Donald J. Trump is going to ask Americans to re-elect him to another term as president of the United States. I am baffled to the max over this question: How is he going to make the case that he has earned a second term?
Trump got elected in 2016 by demonizing his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton and by stoking fear of enemies outside of our borders and of those within them. He promised to vanquish them all. He told us that “I, alone” can repair all that ailed the nation.
Well, he hasn’t.
He has been bedeviled by questions concerning his relationships — business, personal and political — with foreign governments. He claims today that he has been “exonerated.” He hasn’t been cleared of anything. That’s another story.
As he ramps up his re-election campaign, Donald Trump is facing a critical question. How is he going to sell himself for another four years in the White House?
I am reminded a bit of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, who ran for re-election as governor in 1994 against a political novice, a fellow named George W. Bush. Richards was thought of at the time to be highly popular. She had good — if not great — public approval ratings.
She made a critical error during her first term. She vetoed legislation that would have referred a concealed handgun carry bill to the voters for their endorsement. The veto enraged gun enthusiasts.
More than that, though, Richards hardly spoke of how she would govern during a second term. She spent a lot of public time blasting George W. Bush, calling him a lightweight and a “jerk.” Bush remained focused on his campaign themes.
Bush ended up winning. Richards was gone.
There ought to be a lesson for Trump here. Except that he won’t accept it. He won’t campaign on a second-term vision because, in my view, he doesn’t have one. Heck, he didn’t have a first-term vision, other than banning Muslims from traveling to this country, building The Wall along our southern border and eliminating the Affordable Care Act.
He stoked fear and loathing. He appealed to our darker instincts.
Is he going to brighten his vision for the future? Hah! Hardly! A 70-something-year-old man isn’t likely to change the strategy that won him election to the first public office he ever sought.
In my humble view, these basic tenets remain the same today as they were when Trump rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his presidential candidacy:
- Donald Trump is unfit at every level imaginable to be president.
- Trump will continue to be the fear monger in chief.
- He will continue to lie incessantly.
- Trump will demonize his opponents in the most venal, disgusting, disgraceful, personal terms.
Donald Trump doesn’t deserve re-election any more than he deserved election in the first place. I intend to do everything within my meager power — through this forum — to make that case.