Here we find an unusual instance of someone calling for everyone to stop calling President Trump a racist. Well, that’s not unusual in and of itself. Trump’s supporters do that on a daily basis. But what makes this particular incident fall well off the top of the bell curve is that the person saying it is the very liberal WaPo columnist Dana Milbank. Has he suddenly become a Trump supporter? Is he simply trying to be charitable and defend the honor of the Oval Office? Has anyone checked to see if he’s recently fallen and struck his head on something?
No, it’s nothing like that. Milbank is making the argument that the more Democrats call Trump a racist, the more likely a bunch of marginal voters will show up and vote for him next November. And we can’t have that, can we?
President Trump is a horrendous racist. And it’s time for Democrats to stop calling him one.
Counterintuitive? Yes. But substantial evidence shows that labeling Trump “racist” backfires against Democrats. It energizes his supporters without providing any additional motivation to Democrats, and it drives soft partisans — voters who could be up for grabs in 2020 — into Trump’s arms.
This doesn’t mean letting Trump off the hook for being the racist he obviously is; I’ve been using the term for four years because it objectively describes him. But this means talking about his racism in a different way:
Milbank doesn’t simply disagree with Donald Trump’s policies. He hates the man with the burning heat of a blazing star. It shows in virtually everything he writes, so don’t mistake this column for the author trying to cut the President a break. He repeatedly calls Trump a racist himself, while offering no proof beyond the idea that some of the President’s policies designed to enforce existing laws may disproportionately impact minorities.
But what about this idea of his that Trump gathers more support when his political opponents call him a racist? It may not be as crazy as it sounds. He cites one study showing that identifying Trump as racist affected soft voters and those with “high levels of racial resentment” (including moderate and independent whites), driving support for Trump upward. Milbank offers up another recent poll showing very similar results.
It’s actually not all that crazy and falls in line with something I’ve been saying for years. Democrats and liberals constantly overplay the race card to ridiculous levels. When everything is racist, nothing is racist. And when you call everyone you disagree with a racist, nobody is going to listen when the actual racists, Klan members, and neo-nazis show up.
But hey, don’t let that stop you. People were calling him an antisemite all last year, despite a complete lack of examples to support that idea. And if you drive a few more wavering voter’s to hold their noses and vote for Trump, I’m sure he’ll send you a thank you card after his next inauguration.