Former vice president Joe Biden could still win America’s presidential election, but Donald Trump’s performance in the wake of a deadly pandemic, hugely negative polls and a mainstream media almost universally hostile to him shows that cultural and political elites in the United States keep getting things wrong.
The Trump program
Trumpism, while inchoate, does have discernible features that allowed the president to perform better in 2020 with every demographic, except, ironically, white men:
- Distrust of cultural elites, their arrogance and their overly cosmopolitan, rather than national, values.
- Tough on China.
- Pro-industrial policy.
- Pro-deregulation and -jobs.
- Pro-religious freedom.
- Pro-secure energy.
- Against endless wars in the Middle East.
- More pro-family policies.
This is the framework future Republican presidential aspirants will work within. A more disciplined candidate, with less personal baggage, could turn this framework into a blueprint for a political realignment.
A wildcard is whether Trump does pull out an upset. If not, his narrow loss could lead him to run again in 2024 and seek to do what no other American president has done since the nineteenth century: seek to become a two, non-consecutive-term president.
Democrats must decide whether to seek moderation and embrace elements of Trumpism, or seek further polarization by going further out on the limb of “intersectionality” and “woke” politics.