If an American election were held today, the verdict would be a Democratic landslide. An average of recent polls shows President Donald Trump about 10 points behind Democrat Joe Biden and trending downward. A Fox News poll has Mr. Trump 12 points behind. A New York Times/Siena College poll has him losing by 14.
Mr. Trump never trailed Hillary Clinton by numbers so large. He’s never been in a free fall before. He’s en chute libre now. Parts of his tenaciously loyal political base are finally breaking away. He is behind Mr. Biden in virtually all the swing states. His Republicans are on course to lose control of the Senate as well.
Americans are giving Mr. Trump a stiff thumbs down for his handling of two converging epic crises – the racial justice conflagration, and the coronavirus pandemic, which has tanked the economy.
A broader, more devastating trend is also in play. Mr. Trump and his conservatives are losing the culture war. It’s the platform they won on during the populist push of 2016. But a transformation has seen the ground shift out from under white cultural reactionaries toward a burgeoning progressive movement for social equality.
Locked in a time warp, Mr. Trump and his Grand Old Party troglodytes are being overrun by the change flaring up all around it.
What better metaphor than the monuments to the Confederacy, defended by Mr. Trump, now being torn down because they are seen as testaments to racism? Or the uprooting of the sculpture of Frank Rizzo, the former police chief and mayor of Philadelphia whose roughneck, prejudiced style bears some likeness to that of the current Oval Office occupant. Mr. Rizzo’s statue, said Mayor Jim Kenney, was a “deplorable monument to racism, bigotry and police brutality for members of the Black community, the LGBTQ community, and many others.”
It was just in February that Mr. Trump was saluted with resounding applause while acting as the grand marshal of the Daytona 500. It was his kind of crowd. Two weeks ago, the display of the Confederate flag was banned from all NASCAR events and properties. “We all need to listen more and be united in the stand against racism, hatred and senseless violence and loss of life,” NASCAR said.
While he’s mocked the Democrats for their support of kneelers who protested the national anthem at football games, Mr. Trump now watches as support for the Black Lives Matter movement jumps far above majority numbers.
Polls are showing an exodus of white voters who are bread-and-butter Republican voters. Given the huge advantage Democrats have among Black and Hispanic voters, and the party’s strong support among women and younger people, Mr. Trump’s only hope is the white demographic.
In any culture war, population trends favour the Democrats. According to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday, the Hispanic population grew by 20 per cent since 2010 and the Black population grew by almost 12 per cent over the decade, while the white population increased by only 4.3 per cent. In 2019, a little under 40 per cent of the total U.S. population was either non-white or Hispanic.
Rather than come to grips with the progressive cultural transformation, the President has dug in, insisting there is no systemic racism within police forces, refusing to allow the renaming of U.S. military bases that honour defeated Confederate generals, belittling protesters, downplaying the coronavirus as it is surging, and refusing to wear a mask when public opinion calls for it.
For authentication of Mr. Trump’s bull-headedness, there is no better source than The Room Where It Happened, the memoir just published by John Bolton, the President’s former national security adviser. Because of his credentials as a staunch Republican hardliner interacting with the President on a daily basis, this 577-page tome is the tell-all of tell-alls.
On detailed display is documented evidence of the incompetence, the ignorance, the malevolence, the vindictiveness and the sacrificing of the national interest to Mr. Trump’s petty, narcissistic needs.
A major message of the book is that this is a man who cannot change. Mr. Bolton recounts occasions, for example, when the subject of Mr. Trump’s exclusionary immigration attitudes were raised, and Mr. Trump would cut off the discussion. That’s what got him elected, he said.
He can’t change. But his country is changing. Just in time to seal his doom.
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