Some time ago I wrote a column entitled “Don’t Just Do Something—Stand There.” Its point was that a normal American president would be very popular, given the state of the economy, but that President Trump was undermining his popularity with his incessant and ill-advised tweets. That observation, timely then, is more timely now.
Going into the 2020 general election, President Trump has problems. Most public opinion polls report his approval rating remains stuck in the 40% range—abnormally low for a president in office during a robust and growing economy. He’s made no progress in expanding his base beyond white nationalists and conservative Christians, and apparently doesn’t even want to.
But not all the signs are bad. The Republican Party remains solidly united behind the President, and a united party is always a great asset to its nominees for office. Moreover, there is a real danger that the Democrats will descend into chaos, dissension, and extremism—another plus for the GOP.
However, for the Democrats to maximize their self-inflicted damage and thereby give President Trump four more years in the White House, they must be left alone. But President Trump, with his continuous tweeting against the Squad, obviously fails to grasp this simple fact.
Exactly what is motivating the President to butt in is not clear. Perhaps he believes that by attacking the Squad, he will unite the Democrats in their defense, thereby making the entire party seem as extreme as its most extreme members. The upside is that the more extreme the Democrats are made to look, the more likely the President can win re-election. But the downside is that a united Democratic Party may well be more difficult to defeat than a divided party.
The wiser course of action is for President Trump to simply say nothing, do nothing, and let the inevitable infighting among the Democrats take its course, to the advantage of the GOP. For example, earlier this year, there was turmoil among Democratic members of Congress over remarks made by the two Muslims in the Squad—Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib. Both support the so-called “BDS” movement—the movement to boycott, disinvest from, and sanction Israel for its policies. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said the movement is “anti-Semitic.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has gone one step further: It is not only “anti-Semitic,” in her estimation, but—and keep in mind, this is Nancy Pelosi, not Donald Trump talking now—“anti-American.”
Another example: AOC, the apparent leader, or at least most outspoken member, of the Squad, has darkly speculated on why Speaker Pelosi seems to be singling out “women of color” for chastisement. The implication, of course, is that the Speaker, in AOC’s estimation, is racist.
And while we’re on the subject of racism, let’s review how the long knives are being brought out for Joe Biden, and by whom. In her first debate with Biden, Senator Kamala Harris said she didn’t think Biden was a racist, but she then went on to eviscerate him for his civility towards white racist Democratic Senators in the 1970s, when he began his own career in the Senate, as well as for his opposition to the court-ordered bussing of African American school children into the predominantly white school districts—a policy that Harris, who says she herself was a beneficiary of bussing, claims was “hurtful.”
So President Trump should stop tweeting, sit back, and enjoy the entertainment the Democrats are offering.
The President should stop calling into question the degree to which members of the Squad are truly American—he should let Chuck and Nancy do his dirty work for him, as they’ve already begun.
The president should get out of the line of fire over who’s racist, and let AOC slug it out with Nancy while Kamala and the gaggle of Democratic presidential wannabes go after Joe.
In other words, unless and until President Trump can expand his own appeal, he should simply let the Democrats minimize their appeal with their public bickering. He can best accomplish this if he will simply SHUT UP.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.