President Trump relishes turmoil, especially if he creates it. It keeps opponents off-balance, keeps his own staff on high alert and keeps the attention on him.
But exactly 71 weeks before Americans render a verdict on renewing Trump’s Oval Office lease comes a new poll revealing that such turmoil displayed through divisive and harsh political discourse is concerning an awful lot of fellow citizens.
Elections, of course, are about dividing a body politic into Them and Us. Trump is very good at that. And he’s clearly not the only politician to talk harshly these days. See name-calling House impeachanados for prime examples.
But the president is the most prominent public speaker — and tweeter. So, he possesses the loudest voice.
Trump has many accomplishments to tout, including the economy, stock market, record low unemployment especially among historically struggling segments, rebuilding the military and crushing the ISIS caliphate, as promised.
Moderating the rhetoric would force more attention on Trump’s fulfilled promises, inviting doubtful and crucial voters among swing independents to swing his way.
Trump’s remaining staff probably isn’t up to telling him. But Trump has become such an astute politician in many ways he might want to take note of these new findings and dial down the rhetoric a couple notches, for his own reelection’s sake.
Here are some of the major findings in the Pew Research Center’s wide-ranging survey of attitudes on public discourse and political speech from among 10,170 adults:
- “Large majorities say the tone and nature of political debate in the United States has become more negative in recent years – as well as less respectful, less fact-based and less substantive.”
- Nearly eight-in-ten feel “heated and aggressive” language by public officials makes violence more likely.
- Everyday conversations among friends, acquaintances and co-workers have become “stressful and frustrating.”
- Fifty-five percent say Trump is responsible for a decline in the nature and tone of political debate; only 24 percent say he’s improved it.
- Trump’s comments make 76 percent feel concerned, 70 percent confused, 69 percent embarrassed and — this one is important when you vote on a repeat performance — 67 percent say his comments are exhausting.
- Perhaps not surprising for a reality TV star and producer, 54 percent say his comments are sometimes entertaining.