Lukewarm Liberalism Won’t Win Over Voters
As the unrest across our nation continues and misinformation about law enforcement is circulating, there have been conflicting talking points from the Trump Administration.
The two competing narratives are that there must be law and order vs. aren’t we great for passing criminal justice reform. The later argument frequently being contrasted to Joe Biden authoring the 1994 Crime Bill. This supports the viewpoint that Trump can win over black voters if he lets black criminals out of prison. This is a bad idea. It will not win over voters on the left and will discourage voters on the right.
Donald Trump ran as a law and order candidate. Focusing on immigration heavily, Candidate Trump defeated his opponents by portraying them as insufficiently concerned with border security. Marco Rubio went from being the golden boy of the GOP to winning only three contests: Minnesota, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. Rubio lost when he was tarnished by his own actions as a member of the Gang Of Eight, which attempted to pass an amnesty bill in 2013. Even Ted Cruz, who was always strong on border security, was portrayed as weak compared to Trump. This because Cruz wasn’t as forceful and bold in his messaging, like Trump hammering the wall and deportations. Even though that hasn’t amounted to much. Cruz still promised that he would have undone President Obama’s executive amnesty upon being sworn in. Trump said he would as well.
Fast forward four years later, Candidate Trump is now President Trump. No wall has been built. DAPA was rescinded, only after Texas sued to make the federal courts intervene. DACA was only rescinded at the behest of Jeff Sessions, President Trump’s first main endorser. Sessions accepted the the position of Attorney General as Trump started his cabinet. Their friendship faded when Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe, making way for a special prosecutor. Trump blames Sessions for this happening, but Sessions supporters believe that he had to recuse himself. They say the only reason a special prosecutor had to be hired was because Trump told Lester Holt that he fired James Comey because of the Russia hoax. Years later, evidence would prove that Donald Trump did not collude with the Russians, though it remains a conspiracy theory on the left and provided tremendous stress for Team Trump.
Now Sessions is running for his old Alabama senate seat and Trump has done his damndest to prevent him from retaking it. Instead he endorsed former football coach, Tommy Tuberville. This makes little sense, as Sessions is much more close in policy to Trump circa 2016. Nevertheless, Trump is trying to ensure Sessions doesn’t retake his seat. This is the type of behavior that made me dislike Trump in the primary. Some attacks were just unwarranted and patently untrue. For example: the retweet of an attack on Heidi Cruz’s appearance and the pushing of the bizarre conspiracy theory that Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.
With these attacks on Sessions, Trump has lost some of his most loyal supporters. Ann Coulter was so in favor of Trump that she wrote a book called “In Trump We Trust.” His treatment of Sessions and not fulfilling his promises on immigration have led her to turn on him. Last week, Coulter went after Trump on Twitter for his attacks on Sessions, calling him a “disloyal actual retard.” Immigration restrictionists have been very disappointed in Trump’s reluctance to walk the walk on what they see as his defining issue.
Many of these people see Jared Kushner as the key to Trump’s backpedaling on these issues. Kushner was a registered Democrat and Independent after that. He only registered as a Republican in 2018. Conservative critics have blamed him for pushing Trump toward more leftwing policies. I don’t think Kushner is badly motivated or purposely trying to sabotage Trump. I simply think he still holds onto a lot of his old leftwing ideals. Similar situation with his wife, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. They might be becoming more conservative as the left shun them for their associations, but I don’t think we should pretend they are solid conservatives. Especially when liberal policy is pushed.
Kushner stands in a unique position. He is an advisor to the President of the United States. Most of Trump’s advisors haven’t lasted because they’ve been thrown under the bus at some point and either fade into obscurity or join CNN. This will not happen to Kushner because he’s family. Even if Trump gets mad at Kushner, he can’t turn on him like he has other former staffers.
Kushner’s position in the White House has been attacked by both Republicans and Democrats alike. Democrats have made the wildest accusations, painting Kushner as a corrupt puppet. Republicans, on the other hand, don’t like the leftwing policy he’s pushed. Kushner promoted the First Step Act, as a package of “criminal justice reform.” This bill was passed and signed into law in December of 2018, and numerous people were released from jail. This issue was close to Kushner’s heart, because his father served in prison for over a year, in the 2000s. That still doesn’t mean that passing this legislation was right.
Nevertheless, some people on the right have bad motives for attacking Kushner. Here, I speak mostly of the alt-right, that promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories. Alt-righters connect their ire to Kushner’s Jewish heritage, making dual loyalty accusations with respect to Israel. These claims are absurd on their face. Kushner has done work in Israel, but the good policy associated with Kushner is mostly due to the Palestinians being standoffish, as usual. This is the case for Trump as well, and we can be thankful they both learned that the Palestinian Authority isn’t a peace-seeking actor.
Some of the conservative criticism aimed at Trump is less justifiable. Like those who oppose military intervention even when warranted and had a fit when we struck Syria. Trump has a tendency toward non-interventionism and tariffs, which can be detrimental when not evaluated closely. But sometimes it is appropriate to propose tariffs, and likewise, to avoid intervening. For instance, China’s property theft and botching their response to the novel Coronavirus require consequences. In similar accord, we shouldn’t seek to create democracy in places that can’t maintain it or will turn into a worse situation. Though trying to keep places stable helps the US because we won’t have to worry about the threats targeting our shores or resulting in another refugee crisis.
Going back to criminal justice reform, Team Trump believes they can make in-roads with the black community if they portray themselves as sympathetic with regard to criminal justice. Cut to commercials highlighting the fact that Joe Biden authored the 1994 crime bill. Biden has been running away from this history to earn respect from the woke crowd. That doesn’t change the fact that the legislation was successful in reducing crime. And it doesn’t prove the narrative that black people are incarcerated more than whites for the same crimes. The issue is further confused when people like Mitt Romney march with Black Lives Matter protesters. Romney’s participation accepts their premise that there are lots of people who believe black lives don’t matter and that there is a systemic racism stemming from America’s founding. We shouldn’t adopt a leftwing position because we think it’s a smart strategy. Most importantly, it’s wrong. And on a pragmatic level, it’s also foolish. Republicans will not suddenly win over the social justice warriors because we accept their narrative and throw them some red meat. The Democrats will always have a better offer for them. It will only alienate our voters and those who wish to be kept safe.
Tucker Carlson focused on Kushner in particular in his monologue last week lambasting the handling of the riots. Carlson said that Kushner is disdainful of Trump’s voters and is trying to placate people who will never vote for him. I have disagreed with a lot of Carlson’s recent takes with respect to foreign policy and economic, but he was right on the money with this and a lot of the cultural issues he goes over. Running as a tough on crime candidate, and then turning around and springing criminals from jail is not a reassuring turn of events. The claims that criminal justice reform proponents make about mass incarceration and supposed racially disparate sentencing are simply inaccurate. As is the claim trotted about that there are scores of “nonviolent drug offenders” wrongfully serving time. Most cases that are classified as “non-violent” were pled down from a more serious charge.
This is also the case with immigration. We won’t win over those who favor open borders if we give illegal immigrants amnesty. Immigration doves have been pushing for codification of Obama’s executive amnesty. Even some hardliners have considered it as a trade for a larger immigration bill. When Trump was running, he was adamant that all illegal immigrants had to go back where they came from. Including DACA recipients. The order was rescinded under Sessions, but the DHS has not considered their deportation a priority. Now Trump has stated that he wants them to stay. It is a similar situation with criminal justice reform. Kushner and border doves in the GOP are said to be pushing for a package that makes reforms in return for an amnesty for the so-called DREAMers. Some Republicans think that they can win Hispanic votes by offering amnesty. This is equally foolish. Hispanics are not a monolith. It would be much better to try to communicate conservative values and let minorities know that we have more in common than we think, than by adopting the rhetoric of the left.
I plan on voting for Donald Trump in November and I am rooting for him much more than I was in 2016. At large, Trump has governed more conservatively than I expected, and his bad urges haven’t been as apparent as they used to be. That said, we must make sure that President Trump runs the best campaign that he can. That means no self-sabotage. Be it from personal vendettas to adoption of policy that is contrary to the platform he ran on.
We need to earn the votes of people in minority communities, but it is self-defeating if we change who we are in the process. Nor will it be effective. Lots of black Americans are socially conservative and religious. As are many Hispanics. We need to get our message to them and we don’t do that by becoming a lite version of the Democrats. Running away from our values as Republicans isn’t the way to go. It shows weakness and that we don’t really hold our principles in as high regard as we claim. If we believe in conservatism, we shouldn’t pervert it.