Fear and Loathing On the Way to November
Unemployment is at historic lows – for whites, for blacks, for Latinos, for Asians, for men, for women, for just about everybody. The stock market is up and so is consumer confidence. Even Americans who don’t like the president give him high marks on how he’s handling the economy. Wages are rising for the least skilled and least educated among us. We’re not at war. Except with each other.
We’re bitterly divided in ways that aren’t good for the country. We’ve chosen sides and we’re dug in. I remember 1968 when this nation was angry and divided over the war in Vietnam. Now we’re angry and divided over everything.
And Donald Trump, of course, is right in the middle of it all.
Nothing the president does pleases his political enemies. Nothing he does displeases his most loyal supporters. One side will never embrace him. The other will never abandon him.
If Donald Trump says 2 and 2 equals 4, the left would say he’s lying. If he says 2 and 2 equals 3, his supporters would nod their heads in agreement.
During his State of the Union address, he laid out his accomplishments. While Democrats sat on their hands, Republicans cheered, repeatedly and enthusiastically. They shouted "U.S.A." and "Four more years." It was all too much for a longtime liberal friend, who was watching on TV and sent me a text message. “Republicans are an embarrassment,” she wrote, not hiding her disgust with the president’s allies who she said were shamelessly “slobbering” all over him.
I didn’t respond. Why waste my time? She’s smart and usually civil, but Donald Trump has made her, and millions of others just like her, irrational.
When the speech ended, Nancy Pelosi was the irrational one. She dramatically ripped her copy of the president’s speech into pieces – and she did it right there on national television.
A few days earlier, Congressman Jerry Nadler called the president a “dictator” – and he said it not on some left wing television show, but on the floor of the United States Senate.
I’m starting to believe that what we’re witnessing on the left is not just the usual loathing of Donald Trump. I’m starting to believe what we’re witnessing is fear.
Fear that despite all his shortcomings, the man they despise will win re-election, no matter who the Democrats nominate to run against him.
Fear also that despite the fact that they impeached him, his approval numbers didn’t go down; they went up -- to 49 percent according to Gallup, the highest of his presidency.
Maybe that’s not only because he’s benefiting from a strong economy. Maybe it’s also because impeachment didn’t have the desired effect Democrats had hoped for; that instead of hurting the president it’s hurting the party that impeached him, which it did along partisan lines.
I get the impression Democrats are worried, and wondering: How could this happen? How could a man they find so detestable fool so many Americans?
I suspect they conclude that those blue-collar workers who support the president are just too dense to know any better; that a good chunk of Trump supporters hate blacks, Latinos, women, gays and are the very same deplorable right-wingers that Hillary Clinton warned us about — right before she lost the election.
And if Donald Trump wins a second term, they’ll blame the president’s lies and his supporters’ supposed bigotry for the victory – because it couldn’t possibly be their support for free medical care for everyone, including illegal immigrants … and free college for everyone … and a gazillion dollar break-the-bank Green New Deal … or the gloomy picture they constantly paint of America at their debates, a picture that doesn’t conform to the lives most Americans are living everyday.
Even James Carville, who helped elect Bill Clinton twice, has noticed what's going on and says he's "scared to death" as he helplessly watches his party lurch to the far left.
Liberals are obsessed with what they say is the “existential threat” that climate change poses for our planet. I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Today I worry that we live in two Americas – one blue, one red -- and each side despises the other. We’ve lost friends over this great divide; even families are split. That’s the existential threat I worry about.
It’s a long way to November and so Donald Trump has plenty of time to stir things up with needlessly provocative tweets that will push the two sides still further apart, which he inevitably will do (or has already done by the time you're reading this). Democrats will have plenty of time too, to provoke the president and half the country that supports him. The “not guilty” verdict in the Senate impeachment trial ended nothing. The “fun” is just beginning.
I try to stay upbeat but I just don’t see things getting any better – not if Donald Trump wins in November. And not if he loses, either.