In the White House driveway Tuesday morning, Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was asked about the spontaneous surge in contributions to Democrats since Republicans announced, 80 minutes after the first report of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, that they would ram through a replacement.
“I’ve heard the reports of Democrat fundraising going through the roof because of this particular event,” Meadows said, using Republicans’ bastardized name for the Democratic Party. He called it “very sad” and concluded: “But that just shows you, at this particular time in history, we have a very divisive electorate.”
A divisive electorate? No, we have a divisive president. The voters aren’t divisive.
Perhaps Meadows misspoke and meant “divided.” But the electorate isn’t that, either. There is partisan polarization, but voters aren’t really divided on the issues. They simply don’t like what Trump is doing.
This isn’t the first time Team Trump has blamed voters. Back in 2015, when Ben Carson was surging in the Iowa Republican caucuses, Trump said Iowans were fools for believing a personal story Carson told. “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” Trump asked. “How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”
The American people are not stupid, and they are not with Trump. The “silent majority” Trump often refers to is in fact a boisterous minority artificially amplified by the electoral college, the Senate’s structure, gerrymandering and the Supreme Court’s rollback of voting rights. Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million in 2016 and he has been below 50 percent public approval for his entire presidency. He trails Joe Biden badly in nationwide polling, and his campaign strategy indicates he isn’t even contesting the popular vote.
And what of the Senate majority, which now claims to be fulfilling a mandate from the American people? Senate Republicans received 18 million fewer votes than Democrats in 2018, and 10 million fewer votes in 2016.
Vast majorities of Americans are concerned about the coronavirus, support the mandatory wearing of masks and say they avoid crowds. Trump mocks mask-wearing, holds mass rallies and boasts about playing down the virus. Monday he falsely said covid-19 “affects virtually nobody” under 18. Meanwhile, The Post reports, his Pentagon spent $1 billion of pandemic-relief funds on military hardware.
Americans overwhelmingly oppose choosing a new justice now. A Reuters/Ipsos poll finds 62 percent, including half of Republicans, saying the winner of the election in six weeks should make the choice.
But Trump on Tuesday shared radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh’s call for a nominee to be confirmed without even holding hearings. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brazenly reversed his pious defense of the voters four years ago. Back then, when he refused to consider an Obama nominee more than eight months before the election, he said: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”
Nearly 90 percent of Americans, of all stripes, have pleaded for more civility from public officials. Yet this week, Trump attacked Ginsburg’s granddaughter three days after the justice’s death and claimed that Democratic leaders had ghostwritten Ginsburg’s dying wishes. Trump also celebrated the “beautiful thing” of authorities shooting a television correspondent with a rubber bullet at a nonviolent protest.
Most Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Trump gives himself an “A-plus.”
Two-thirds of Americans have at least a fair amount of trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trump and political appointees have attacked the CDC director’s remarks about vaccines, attempted to edit the CDC’s scientific bulletins and accused CDC scientists of “sedition.” Now the CDC has retracted (correct) information it had posted three days earlier warning about airborne viral spread.
About three-quarters of Americans believe citizens should be allowed to vote by mail — even after Trump tried for months to undermine it as fraudulent.
More than 8 in 10 Americans insist that Obamacare’s protections for those with preexisting conditions remain in place. Yet the Supreme Court is poised to invalidate Obamacare, at Trump’s request, including protections for preexisting conditions. Obamacare may well go down because of the vote of the new justice that Republicans plan to jam through to confirmation against the wishes of the American people.
Don’t blame the voters, Mr. President. Blame yourself.