Trump’s Grand Strategy for Reelection

A year ago, following the mid-term elections in America, I wrote a piece stating that if the Democrats wanted to take back the White House, they should concentrate on getting things done. Doing so would resonate with voters, I argued, rather than envisioning another two years of bitter partisanship and yet another U.S. Congress more focused on getting reelected than on accomplishing what the American people had sent their representatives to Washington to actually do. Sadly, that has not been the case.

Democrats argue, rightly, that they had no choice but to pursue an impeachment inquiry against Trump, given the many outrageous things he has done over the past three years, and in particular, vis-à-vis Ukraine. And Pelosi can argue, rightly, that she was extremely patient on this subject, and acted only when circumstances dictated that to do otherwise would have been a dereliction of duty.

Trump is often accused of being clueless, meandering through the wilderness like a fawn taking his first clumsy steps into the world. I have long maintained that he is anything but clueless, and that he is extremely deliberate, strategic, and calculating in his actions. Having established the 24/7/365 “all Trump all the time” news cycle even before he assumed office, he has succeeded in brainwashing the American people (and its media, of all political persuasions) to become accustomed to talking mostly about him. This has ensured that his supporters will back him no matter what he does, that his opponents will become more and more enraged, and that the country will become more and more divided in the process.

Whether they realize it or not, Trump could not have proceeded with his plan without the express complicity of the American people and a variety of players on the global stage. Rather than ignore him, the media has embraced him, with CNN, MSNBC, and PBS being as guilty as Fox of disseminating Trump’s grand plan to their brethren. His allies abroad-such as Putin, Orban, Netanyahu, and now, Erdogan-have also helped to ensure that this unfolding disaster of a script is successfully implemented.

Democrats have consistently underestimated Donald Trump’s appeal. (Dominique A. Pineiro/U.S. Navy)

So, where does that leave us? Trump will, of course, be impeached, but not removed from office, given the unlikelihood that the Senate will vote to strip him of his powers. The result is that, although the historical record will put Trump in a select club of former presidents who have been impeached, his supporters will only become more emboldened. Democrats will, by voting day next year, be apoplectic, with rage. But, in the end, it will all boil down to which candidate for president will be the most electable.

Democrats have a serious problem on their hands. Despite current polling that might suggest otherwise, neither of their top three candidates at the present time – Biden, Warren, or Sanders – is likely to beat Trump in the electoral college. Biden’s support is slowly eroding, Warren and Sanders are too far left, and Sander’s recent heart attack alone raises question about his electability. Although Buttigieg is, in my opinion, the best candidate in the democratic field, his youth and sexual orientation mean he will never be elected, even if he should clinch the nomination, which also seems unlikely.

Despite everything – all the outrages, all the gaffes, all the mean-spirited and insensitive things he has said – as of today, this race still appears to remain Trump’s to lose. Ultimately, the economy may tip the balance, but with the “ignore the bad news and overreact to any good news” stock market, which refuses to act like a bellwether and instead reacts like a “greed machine,” and an economy that continues to perform reasonably well, only the onset of a recession in the next year could make a difference. That also appears increasingly unlikely.

So, assuming that nothing much changes economically, and that no one new appears on the Democratic stage, it may well be the case that Trump is in for another four years. Indeed, the schizophrenic American voting public, which has demonstrated its propensity to elect Clinton, then Bush, then Obama, and Trump in succession, seem strangely prepared to reelect Trump. Although no one can get inside his mind, he is no dummy. Rather than write him off as an aberration of American history, American voters, and its media, should perhaps consider the possibility that they have all been instrumental in his probable reelection. Trump had a grand strategy for getting elected, and now reelected, and it is all going according to plan.