Then he did scale that policy back and, in true Trump-running-for-reelection form, that move became the ne plus ultra of what could be done for the suburbs. Trump has repeatedly claimed that he saved the suburbs, as credible a claim as his repeated insistence that funding historically Black colleges and universities moved him next to Abraham Lincoln on the list of presidents who delivered for Black Americans. Trump does a thing, declares it the best thing and insists no one could do better. It’s his shtick.
But polling still shows that women — and, particularly, college-educated suburban women — plan to vote for his opponent next week. So he’s gotten increasingly direct, explicitly asking, begging, those women to like him. To this point, they seem disinclined to do so.
At a rally in Michigan on Tuesday, Trump turned the volume up a bit on his appeals. And at the same time, he reinforced why suburban women might be skeptical of his outreach.
He was rattling off his victories four years ago, as he does regularly. Then he switched to the why.
“At the end of the evening, they were analyzing it,” Trump said of his victory. “They said, ‘You know what? Donald Trump did great with women.’ And that’s gonna happen again.”
The crowd cheered. Trump lost women by a 15-point margin, though he won with White women, if that tells you anything.
“Because women, suburban or otherwise, they want security,” Trump Trumpsplained. “They want security. They want safety. They want law and order. They have to have law and order, and we’re gonna do great. And I love women, and I can’t help it. They’re the greatest. I love them much more than the men. Much more than the men. So I’m saving suburbia. I’m getting your kids back to school, get your kids back to school.”
Got that? Women want security, for suburbia to be saved and for their kids to be in school. Quite a complex portrait being painted there.
It got worse, but not before Trump went on a little riff about how bad Michigan’s governor is. That, of course, is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), a woman whose skepticism of Trump is probably higher than most and for whom Trump’s treacly pitches are no doubt particularly ineffective.
Then Trump really made women an offer they couldn’t refuse.
“And you know what else? I’m also getting your husbands — they want to get back to work, right?” he said. “They want to get back to work. We’re getting your husbands back to work, and everybody wants it.”
Look. We can all agree that it would be great if we could get people back to work given the economic devastation that’s accompanied the prolonged coronavirus pandemic. But assuming that women are mostly concerned about their husbands finding work and not finding work themselves is straight out of “Ozzie and Harriet” — a reference that no one under the age of 50 will get, which is the point.
Nearly 6 million women have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. There are now 2.3 million fewer women working than there were when Trump took office. Those people need jobs, too, not just their husbands, should they be married.
But regardless, Trump isn’t even getting married men back to work. The government tracks employment by marital status, and nearly 2.5 million married men have lost their jobs during the pandemic. The losses had hit nearly 4 million, before rebounding — and then again getting worse.
There are now as few married men working as there were in October 2013. There are 2 million fewer married men working now than when Trump took office. More than half of the married men who lost jobs since March haven’t yet gotten back to work.
Inaccuracies aside, it’s just an odd thing to pledge in October 2020, as though the dynamics of family relationships haven’t changed since Trump was a kid growing up in Queens. Just under half of those employed in the United States are women, a group who Trump suggested were instead mostly waiting dutifully at home, watching soap operas while their partners were grinding away at the auto plant.
In reality, of course, millions of men and women across the country are both at home, juggling work with raising kids. Millions more are heading to jobs where the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus is significantly higher. Employment doesn’t look the same way it did a year ago, which Trump should know. But he should certainly know it doesn’t look the way it did 70 years ago.