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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Donald Trump Could Actually Help the Democratic Party

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Let’s just get something out of the way up front: There’s no mystery about how today’s election is going to unfold.

In an opinion poll I was asked about the morning after the election. It said: “Donald Trump will win over Hillary Clinton.”

I’ve never doubted that Trump will get 42 percent of the popular vote, since very few people think he could lose. But even though Trump and Hillary Clinton will enjoy very little crossover appeal, the poll also said in the aftermath: “Clinton will likely govern with a sizable Democratic majority in the House.”

I believe that will happen, but I wonder whether it’s true that Clinton will likely govern with that large majority.

How will Trump govern? And what is her governing coalition?

Let’s start with this fact: Neither party will probably put up a candidate who can win the 20 governorships it is now widely expected to lose.

Sure, Donald Trump could easily make some enormous missteps. But given the narrow support of his supporters, he might do well to wait it out.

Finally, what we’re really looking at is not even an election but a much broader far-right agenda that will govern our nation.

So let’s look at the very low turnout predictions and chalk up all of those people to voter suppression. Never mind that the vast majority of those who don’t cast a ballot are actually women and minorities.

We could make a case for how the lower turnout will give us an even bigger divide, as Democrats who don’t vote for Hillary Clinton say, “It wasn’t worth it.”

Or we could blame Clinton’s opponents — those they call the “elite media” — and say they prevented the public from understanding what was important to them.

Which is why the easy part is over: We know that whatever happens, the post-election landscape will be less polarizing than the months leading up to the election itself.

The most provocative theory, which I haven’t heard from anyone else, is that Trump could fail and therefore help the Democratic Party. Maybe it would be better if the president we vote for has a national poll average under 38 percent.

Indeed, there are some things that the Democrats are doing right.

They’re moving fast with a coordinated strategy on minimum wage, immigration, and the environment. The general election is a different thing — many Democrats think there are a lot of discrete problems, but they feel constrained by their positions on health care, taxes, trade, and to some extent even abortion, and everyone in the party is putting on the brakes.

But with Hillary Clinton in charge, that will change. There are things she can do fast, such as overhaul America’s outdated tax code, as she’s promising to do. And it seems to me, as an advocate for a more balanced economy and a woman’s place in society, it would also be wise to begin to repeal the parts of the tax code that make it hard for women to realize their own potential — what could be better than that?

True, that tax code is also stacked against African-Americans, Latinos, and immigrants. It’s so troublesome that Paul Ryan has stopped by on the campaign trail to reassure them — an important step.

But no matter what happens, one thing is sure: Democrats will ultimately get the House. It’s just a question of how big of a majority they will have. And that one thing to keep in mind is: Under the Republican past, a party with majorities as narrow as Republicans’ likely will end up becoming a prisoner of its own narrow political base.

I am very dubious that that is what will happen now.

The Republicans have a candidate who belongs in a real-life third-rate gangster movie. They have a bigot, who is not just a racist, but who now explicitly says he wants to ban all Muslims from America. His supporters, not a sliver of them, think it’s okay to rape their sisters and take away their daughters. What they really want is to disempower women.

So Americans will likely have an opportunity to overturn one of the most alarming trends of the past 50 years: the expansion of women’s economic, political, and societal independence.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are just a few of the Republicans’ wrong-headed and dangerous ideas — such as repealing the Affordable Care Act — that will now be discussed in the run-up to next year’s elections.

So let’s not pretend that anything Hillary Clinton does on her own will change the balance of power. It will change the balance of power.

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