On Nov. 9, Let’s Forget Donald Trump Happened
by Noah Feldman at Bloomberg:
(Bloombeg and Feldman are Jewish names.)
“With Donald Trump’s chances of winning the White Housenarrowing, it’s not too soon to ask: If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in November, what attitude should Democrats and Republicans alike take toward Trump voters? It will be tempting to excoriate or patronize them, or to woo them to your cause. But all of these approaches would be mistaken. A much better strategy — for both parties — is to engage in selective memory, and to treat Trump voters as though the whole sorry episode of his candidacy never occurred.
That may seem counterintuitive, especially because there’s no doubt that Trump’s candidacy shows the system needs fixing. But it’s based on the solid intuition that Trump voters, many of them alienated already from mainstream party politics, will only be further alienated by anything that associates them with a candidate whose brand was victory and who delivered defeat.
Even assuming a convincing Clinton win, many, many Americans are going to vote for Trump on Nov. 8. They will do so for various reasons, and I don’t want to make the mistake of assuming that those reasons can be captured in a few sentences.
What can be said definitively about Trump voters is that they will have judged that, whatever his flaws and demerits, he was a better pick than Clinton. That doesn’t necessarily mean all Trump voters will have thought Trump should be president; if the polls are sufficiently lopsided on Election Day, it will be logically possible to vote for him as a protest.
But it does mean at a minimum that the voter wanted to communicate that Trump’s vision is preferable to Clinton’s.
This brute fact about what Trump voters must be trying to say could lead to some potentially dangerous responses from those who don’t vote for Trump. One characteristic risk would be moral outrage. Democrats might be tempted to say that anyone who voted for Trump has bad morals and belongs in the much-discussed “basket of deplorables.” The Republican version of moral outrage against Trump voters would be to say that the candidate’s words (and maybe conduct) around sexual morality made him undeserving of election, and that anyone who voted for him must share his morals.
But moral outrage would be a moral mistake. Plenty of Democrats who don’t care for Bill Clinton’s personal sexual conduct voted for him — twice. Lest we forget, it’s a credible (if today highly unpopular) view that a candidate’s sexual morality is irrelevant to his or her qualifications for the presidency. That view may be wrong, but it isn’t inherently morally outrageous…….” Please continue reading below: