How two traditionally minor issues could determine a historic election
After the RNC, there’s no question that Trump is making an all-out push for the black vote. And despite numerous Democrats trying to play “hide the candidate”, it looks like the debates are still on – which means Biden is finally going to have to answer questions for himself. Given the stories on FoxNews during the DNC, that makes it clear that Tara Reade (and Rose McGowan, for that matter) aren’t going away. Though Tara Reade’s accusations themselves won’t sink Biden, his authoring of the Obama Administration’s Title IX guidelines will (potentially).
The end result of this is that, even in the face of race riots and COVID, two relatively minor issues – both subsets of ‘education’, which seems far from voters’ minds at the moment – could sway the election for Trump.
Black Voters and School Choice
I’ve written previously how black voters often have to take a backseat to other groups within the Democratic fold when it comes to policy priorities – nowhere is this more clear than the issue of charter schools. Despite overwhelming support among blacks, Democrats continue to oppose charter schools. Furthermore, it’s a difficult issue for Democrats to justify to black voters. Behind every legitimate argument lurks the unspoken elephant in the room – charter schools hurt the teachers’ unions, a (more) important Democratic constituency.
The fact that opposition to charter schools comes more from the left wing of the party than its center presents a second opportunity. The Democratic Party, especially the progressive wing, has become increasingly skeptical of religion, veering at times to open hostility. Black voters, by contrast, embrace religion, demonstrating above average levels of religiosity. If Trump can make school choice a central issue, the left’s anti-religion prejudices are likely to surface, allowing Republicans to exploit another cleavage between African-Americans and Democratic elites.
Tara Reade and Progressive Hypocrisy
I honestly have no idea how Democrats thought the Tara Reade accusations would just go away. Their response of essentially (though more respectfully) dismissing and moving on from the accusations would have been the best strategy – if the Tara Reade accusations were the actual issue. They weren’t. The Kavanaugh accusations and the Democratic double standard was the issue. Though it is possible to distinguish the cases – by, for example, believing Ford while disbelieving Reade – given the similar (lack of) hard evidence* in both cases, it’s difficult to believe that anyone is actually doing so without relying heavily on motivated thinking. Simply put, both are ‘he-said, she-said’ cases involving events that are decades old. No one with a brain can feel comfortable saying for certain what happened in either situation.
Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue for Biden. He wasn’t in power at the time of the Kavanaugh hearing, and could easily distance himself from the more unsavory moments of the affair. What he can’t distance himself from, however, is his role in developing the Obama Administration’s Title IX guidelines on sexual assault, under which he would have been convicted and removed. These same regulations have resulted in numerous young people being kicked out of school on accusations with no more merit than those of Biden’s accuser. Given Trump’s propensity for showmanship, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a couple of those former students make an appearance during the campaign.
*Though it should be noted that at least Tara Reade could establish she had actually met Joe Biden at some point. Reade 1, Ford 0, I suppose.
A Broad Pattern of Hypocrisy
Donald Trump’s own questionable pattern of behavior demonstrates one of two reasons Reade provides such a stumbling block for Biden. Trump would have to be completely shameless to bring up these accusations given his own checkered past, but that’s never been a problem for him before. The difference is that Trump’s issues are well-known. They won’t have an impact because they’re already ‘baked in’. Biden, on the other hand, has been hidden in his bunker by his handlers.
Normally, issues like this would have been brought up during the primaries or the summer, he would have taken whatever lumps he needed to take, and voters would be ‘inoculated’ from further attacks in the fall. Because of the Democrats’ willingness to sweep this under the rug when the allegations first surfaced, Biden is going to have to justify this double standard in the heart of election season.
The second issue for Biden is how well the Democratic response fits a pattern of exempting themselves from the standards to which they hold others. Democrats love protests – but not outside Lori Lightfoot’s house. LeBron and the NBA love social justice – but not for Hong Kong. We needed everyone to stay home – yet massive protests are alright if they cause is sufficiently liberal. These provide a common theme of elitist hypocrisy, which could allow Trump to ride the same anti-elite sentiment that carried him in 2016 to re-election.
If this happens, it may be the first time an incumbent has won as an anti-establishment candidate.