One week on. Have we learned anything about how effectively to counter Trump? As in, counter in a way that ameliorates what he is doing, and reduces the chance of a second term? Yes. In my opinion.
1) Ignore what comes out of his mouth. Period. Ignore anything to do with the media. Period. Simply do not waste column inches, organizing time, social media space engaging with him or his troops on his terms, on his battlefield. Period.
2) Do not hold him to account on his promises. This is pretty much the same as (1). His promises do not add up. Meeting them. With Executive Orders. Whatever. Produces a short-term photo op. The effects of which will dissipate once the consequences begin to take hold. And that is there we make ground on Trump.
3) With discipline, focus and nerve. Hold Trump to account on the three metrics which I believe will determine the 2020 Presidential Election: (A) Did Trump create a job for you, your partner, your son, your daughter or a friend? (B) Did Trump reduce your health insurance premium, as he promised? (C) Has your monthly cost of living or doing business increased? Food? Automobile purchase? Farm labour? Availability of markets?
I know there are going to be so many moments of pain, for so many people, in need or at disadvantage. And we should, of course, be concerned about each and every instance. And the temptation is going to be to want to push those to the front of all of our media engagement. That is only natural. But, we must resist that urge.
This is where discipline will be required. It is my opinion that, in order to do the best we can for all those who will suffer under Trump, the single most important thing we can do is to ensure that neither he, nor anyone like him, is elected again for at least a generation.
That means, again, in my opinion, that we have to win back a lot of misguided swing voters, likely former Democrats, or working Republicans. They need to be our focus.
And as awful as each heart-rending story may be, if it relates to the sort of voter Democrats can already be pretty sure will vote for us, then we achieve little by focusing our attention on them.
Instead, we need to highlight the areas where those who voted for Trump are themselves getting hit. And those areas, one last time, in my opinion, are the metrics in (3).
As tough as this may seem, we are not going to win in 2020 by appealing to peoples’ hearts. We should have learned that much in 2016. We need to appeal to the pockets of the swing voters who are going to count.
I know this may sound hard-hearted. But, after this past week, it is clear, at least to me, that we need to be as hard-headed as Trump, if we are to defeat him.