Just published on Impakter, here’s the opening:
Previous articles about why populism is dangerous have addressed the issue of austerity (here), the public health crisis (here), the false “migrant crisis” (here), and the propensity for war (here). This article explores Trump’s midterms strategy to drive voters to the ballot on November 6: stoking up fear and anger with fabricated crises and false solutions.
The 6 November midterm elections are seen by many as a referendum on how American citizens are ranking Trump’s performance as President. Democrats are favored to win the House and Republicans the Senate.
Surprisingly, even though the economic news are favorable, with 55% of Americans rating current economic conditions as excellent or good, the political climate is not correspondingly as good for Republicans and Trump, the latest Gallup poll shows.
Congress’ 21% job approval rating is 10 points below the average since 1974 and similar to approval ratings in the 2010 and 2014 midterms. Trump’s approval rating at 40% is well below the 52% average at midterms since 1974 and is one of the lowest ever for a president prior to a midterm election.
With such results, it is not surprising that Trump has pulled all the populist stops at his disposal: fake news, fabricated crises, false solutions. All designed to fuel emotions, stoking fear and anger to push voters to the polls. Even famous memes are used, like the Stark family motto of HBO’s Game of Thrones “Winter is coming”, to announce the reimposition of sanctions on Iran. They will take effect on Monday 5 November, the day before the elections. To make sure everyone would notice, Trump exceptionally took the trouble of pinning the tweet at the top of his thread:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
This caused a storm on Twitter and HBO did not appreciate the use of its intellectual property for political purposes.
No matter that this stokes divisions. That the country is increasingly polarized. That people die while praying in a synagogue. That the public postal system is used to send pipe bombs. For Trump, it’s collateral damage of little import. The point is to win.
This is the populist strategy for maximum voter turnout: as a populist, you may hold a minority of the voters but your hold on them is stronger because they are emotionally pumped up. It’s not a question of pushing the “undecided vote” as analysts have traditionally called it; it’s a question of pushing those who already support you to actually go to the voting booths. You don’t need to convince them (that’s done). What you need to do is fire them up so that they will make the effort to vote.
Trump’s Fear and Anger Strategy
Trump is in campaign combat mode. The language on race and gender is strident, the anti-immigrant message oppressive.
The rest on Impakter, click here to read. Let me know what you think, I love to hear from you!