Sunday, November 19, 2023


Donald Trump likes to tell his followers, "They're not coming after me. They're coming after you — and I'm just standing in their way." It's not true -- he's the one charged with 91 felonies -- but his fans believe what he says.

I've begun to suspect that the dire warnings about a second Trump term are the mainstream equivalent of this message from Trump. And judging from the polls, it looks as if many swing voters don't believe Trump is coming after them, so it doesn't seem to matter to them that Biden is standing in the way.

This month, the press has issued many dire warnings about a second Trump term. We read this in The Washington Post:
Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations....

In private, Trump has told advisers and friends in recent months that he wants the Justice Department to investigate onetime officials and allies who have become critical of his time in office, including his former chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and former attorney general William P. Barr, as well as his ex-attorney Ty Cobb and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley....

In public, Trump has vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” President Biden and his family.
I think this is alarming, but many ordinary citizens undoubtedly feel that this doesn't affect them. They're not members of the Biden family. They're not ex-officials or aides who got on Trump's bad side during his term in office. They're probably not planning to take to the streets on Inauguration Day if Trump wins.

AP reports:
Trump would try to strip tens of thousands of career employees of their civil service protections. That way, they could be fired as he seeks to “totally obliterate the deep state.” ...

Trump ... would immediately direct U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to undertake the largest domestic deportation operation in American history. He would target people who are legally living in the United States but harbor “jihadist sympathies” and revoke the student visas of those who espouse anti-American and antisemitic views.
If you're not a federal employee, you probably don't see how the reclassification affects you. And if you're not an immigrant or a green-card holder, Trump's immigration crackdown is unlikely to harm you.

The Economist has also raised an alarm:
The Economist said in its annual "World Ahead" guide Thursday that another four years of Trump in the White House would be "more damaging" than his previous term.

"China and its friends would rejoice over the evidence that American democracy is dysfunctional" and Beijing "could easily miscalculate over Taiwan, with catastrophic consequences."

And Russian President Vladimir Putin "would have an incentive to fight on in Ukraine and to pick off former Soviet countries such as Moldova or the Baltic states," according to the outlet.
But no one is certain how China will react to a second Trump term. And voters may assume that a rampant Putin is a small price to pay for gas under $3 a gallon (and that the former will probably lead to the latter).

And, generally speaking, a president who threatens democracy might not frighten an electorate that thinks the democracy we have isn't doing a very good job for them.

Journalists at elite media outlets are focused on threats to people at their own level, such as current and former government officials. If we want swing voters to be afraid of a second Trump term, we need to identify threats they can relate to. Otherwise, we can't expect them to believe that the risks are too great.

No comments: