There are three major sets of voters in the United States: Republican Reds, Democrat Blues and undecided Purples.
Except for a tiny sliver who suffer from full-blown Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), most Reds would back the former president in a 2024 run or support another Trump-like figure, such as Florida Gov. Ron De Santis. They’re voting Republican no matter what.
At the other end, Blues will vote Democrat no matter what. They think Trump’s boorishness is off the charts — it’s the flaw they condemn so loudly — but nonetheless wouldn’t consider voting even for a polite, gentlemanly Republican like Sen. Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee or Mike Pence.
Presidential elections are decided by that sizeable middle camp, the Purples.
Most people reading this column are probably Red. I’m with you. We’re on the same team. Except, not all Reds are alike.
Many Reds follow the narrative that President Joe Biden can do nothing right, that he hides in his basement, wears adult diapers and can’t remember his own name. Not only don’t they care that such talk is disrespectful to the office of the president (“Hey, they did it to Trump! What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!” they’ll clamor), but they don’t realize that from a strictly practical perspective, it turns off multitudes of much-needed Purples.
I’m part of the Red subset that would rather overestimate than underestimate, and I believe in Ronald Reagan’s “run every race as if you’re behind” mantra. Needless to say, that helped Reagan win two landslide victories, including an astounding 49 out of 50 states in the second one.
Foolishly, Reagan’s political opponents in 1980 hoped he’d gain the Republican nomination because they thought he’d be easily beatable in the general election. It wasn’t the first time such monumental miscalculations were made, and it wouldn’t be the last. In 2008, I vividly remember shaking my head as conservative pundits actually supported Barack Obama in his primary battles with Hillary Clinton because they thought she was the unconquerable one, whereas he’d be another George McGovern.
That brings us to Biden’s State of the Union address.
Granted, it was heartbreaking to watch such a traditionally grandiloquent occasion reduced to a socially-distanced humdrum non-event — a lackluster vignette that so eminently captures the essence of Biden’s presidency to this point. But to those who can take off the blinders and don’t keep Biden under a microscope, scrutinizing every imperfection, the speech itself wasn’t half bad.
When Biden insisted that we need to fund — not defund — the police and called for a secure border, he sounded like the centrist Biden who fended off countless progressive primary challengers to win the 2020 Democratic nomination, as well as the White House, not like the progressive in centrist clothing he’s become ever since taking office.
Many Reds will shout, “He’s such a liar, he’s so two-faced, he says one thing and then does another!” Yeah, that’s great, but Reds aren’t voting for him anyway, Blues will no matter what, and if he says centrist things now, Purples won’t care about his previous leftward dalliances.
To this point, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped Biden, too. Sure, Reds will point to how Biden’s weak demeanor emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin, and how Biden’s halting of the Keystone XL Pipeline project enriched Russia’s own energy coffers, thus making an unprovoked invasion financially sustainable.
But again, no matter what, Reds aren’t voting for Biden anyway, and Blues are. Purples only care that he slapped sanctions on Russia, seems united with NATO and is talking tough about crippling Russia’s economy.
It didn’t help the GOP any to select Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to deliver the State of the Union rebuttal. Simply having a friendly face doesn’t mean Purples will automatically embrace her.
Oh, when she said Biden has taken America back to the late 1970s, she wasn’t wrong. But it would’ve helped to begin by saying something nice and unifying. If all of Washington united after 9/11, why not now that Russia has launched the first major offensive in Europe in over 70 years?
In stark contrast, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the radical leftist “squad” members who infamously called for the impeachment of “the motherf***er” Trump early and often, in her post-speech commentary came across to Purples as a peaceful, happy, patriotic soccer mom.
Those unfamiliar with Tlaib’s extremist views –- and that’s most of the country, because, for the most part, we’re still an apolitical people — probably sized her up as a sympathetic populist merely railing against corporate fat cats and Beltway lobbyists. You know, the same populist rhetoric that got Trump elected in 2016. Wisely, Tlaib didn’t refer to binary pronouns and didn’t mention Trump’s name once.
After recovering from the shock of Trump’s election, Democrats have outmaneuvered Republicans ever since. “They cheated!” you say? OK, and I suppose Tom Brady won seven Super Bowls because of deflated footballs.
Thank goodness Democrats are so horrible at governing that Republicans are more popular now by default. But the GOP can’t afford to coast on default.
Now is the time to pounce on Biden’s subpar record with incontrovertible facts, of which there are plenty — not with wishful thinking that he drinks hot cocoa out of a sippy cup. Cheap shots like that make Purples turn Blue.
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