Trump’s rise: Are Democrats to blame?
“Did Democrats cry wolf?” asked Frank Bruni in The New York Times. Political commentators on both the Left and Right have been warning for months that Donald Trump’s bigotry, nativism, and volatile personality make him a unique threat to the country—yet the tightness of the polls suggests many voters aren’t convinced. Maybe it’s because they’ve heard it all before. Four years ago, many liberals denounced the mild-mannered Republican nominee Mitt Romney as a “bloodsucking capitalist vampire whose indictment of Obamacare was ipso facto proof of his racism.” In 2008, John McCain was portrayed as a “combustible hothead who couldn’t be allowed anywhere near the nuclear codes.” When hyperbolic invective like this is deployed against decent politicians, how do you convince Republican voters that this year’s nominee truly poses a “much greater, graver danger”? Liberals have often portrayed opponents “as not just wrong but evil,” said Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in TheWeek.com. So as voters hear them hyperventilating about Trump, they’re asking, “Why should we trust you this time?”
“Liberals may be accused of many sins, but enabling Trump is not one of them,” said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. We have been warning for decades that Republicans were using “racial coding” to appeal to whites, and “descending into unhinged, knee-jerk, anti-intellectual reaction.” They can’t blame us just because we’ve been proved right. It’s pretty rich of conservatives to claim Republicans were “blinded to Trump’s inadequacies” by extreme rhetoric, said Jonathan Bernstein in BloombergView.com. The Right accused President Clinton of being “a drug-running murderer and a likely communist”; attacked John Kerry’s service record in Vietnam; and declined for years to disown racist allegations that President Obama wasn’t a U.S. citizen. It’s Republicans who “are responsible for Trump.”
Voters aren’t actually ignoring Trump’s deficiencies, said Aaron Blake in WashingtonPost.com. He’s the most unpopular presidential candidate in history: 44 percent of Americans think he is a racist, and 59 percent that his campaign appeals to bigotry. Trump is competitive only because we live “in a highly partisan country”—in which majorparty nominees are almost guaranteed 40 percent of the vote—and because Hillary Clinton is almost as unpopular as he is. “In another universe with even a modestly more popular Democratic candidate,” this race would be long over.
■ During George W. Bush’s final year in office, in 2008, 49% of Americans considered themselves to be “thriving.” Now 55.4% do. Among black Americans, the “thriving” percentage rose from 46.8% in 2008 to 59.7% in 2010, but has now dropped back to 53.2%. Gallup
■ 73% of U.S. adults read at least one book in the past year, up from 72% in 2015. 65% read a print book, 28% read an e-book, and 14% listened to an audiobook. Pew Research Center