If the Democratic portrait of Mitt Romney in 2012 was a Netflix blurb, it might read something like: “An out-of-touch vulture capitalist seeks the presidency to protect his plutocrat friends from paying their fair share of taxes.” McCain’s in 2008 could have been “An increasingly befuddled Washington insider makes an irresponsible VP pick and fails to articulate a vision for the country’s future.”
The point of this exercise is to demonstrate the normal oppo strategy against a normal candidate: Pick a couple-few weaknesses and hammer them hard, so that a clear, simple, sour picture develops in the minds of voters.
But with the Democratic convention in the books and the Dems’ strategy coming into focus, that isn’t what they’re doing with Trump. Right now, Trump’s Netflix blurb is something like:
“An erratic, sexist, racist, heartless, reckless, selfish bully without a clear plan for the country, apart from plans that are terrible like banning and registering Muslims and breaking up immigrant families, who was also born rich and isn’t a very good businessman, and don’t forget he’s a brazen liar, runs for president to feed his massive ego, and maybe for the money too.”
One one level, that’s not a very good Netflix blurb. But on another level, it actually is.
First let’s take our brain elevators to the level where it’s not. The conventional wisdom is that people are so stupid you can’t give them too much information, or else they’ll tune you out and even distrust you because you said so much words at them. So you give them “Romney eats jobs, poops sadness” and you repeat it constantly.
But are people really that stupid? My theory is that they’re not.
My theory is that the normal strategy of focusing on a few key negatives is effective not because people can’t process more than a few attack lines, but because most politicians to get this far in a presidential campaign only have a few key negatives that will really resonate with undecided voters in the first place.
This is not the case with Trump. Maybe you noticed this! Maybe you have been following this campaign and you know that there is ample evidence that Trump really is, in his black little pebble heart, an erratic, sexist, racist, heartless, reckless, bullying, egotistical, lying, greedy, silver-spoon suckling small-minded shithead.
Now, I’m sure there are a few nervous liberals with stomach acid literally burning a hole through their abdomen saying, through their abdomen acid holes, “You fool! He’s edging ahead of Clinton the polls! All is lost, O Lamentation! O national Wasteland! I Die!”
Chill Winston! Most normal people don’t pay attention to the presidential election until after Labor Day. Less than half are following the election very closely right now. This indicates that they are sensible and well-adjusted, and therefore not natural Trump voters.
But seriously. It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure the image of the non-politics junkie thinking about the election for a second between dropping Aiden off at Pokemon class and having a chuckle at Donald Trump calling that lady Pocahontas. That’s not nice, he thinks but maybe the country needs a Trump right now, for vague reasons he can’t articulate.
It really, really should not be much of a challenge to convince this type of voter that the country does not, in fact, need a Trump right now. This is why the apparent strategy of throwing everything at Trump and seeing what sticks is the best, at least for starters.Especially since so much of it is sticky. If a given voter isn’t persuaded by talk of NATO or sexism, he might still wonder what Trump’s hiding in his taxes. And if someone (a tax evader?) doesn’t care about Trump’s taxes, maybe she will find attacks on Trump’s judgment to be persuasive. There’s something for everyone to hate about Trump.
That’s the hope at least.