On Sept. 10, 2016, at a fund raiser in New York, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton infamously called half of Donald Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables.”
I’m sure you remember the moment. In a very real sense, Hillary lost the election that day.
The Trump campaign seized the opportunity. Mr. Trump had been behind in the polls but had started to make up ground. He needed an opening to pull even and eventually overcome the poll numbers. Hillary handed it to him on a platter. Donald Trump then hijacked the Democratic base.
Many of those deplorables, as Hillary called them, were actually hard-working “blue collar” voters who had been forgotten by the elites of the Democratic Party. Hillary was so wrong about them because her party had stopped listening to its base long before she categorized them as racists, homophobes and sexists. It took a billionaire candidate from Fifth Avenue to hear the cry for help coming from desperate American working families.
After the beating they took in 2016, you would think representatives of the Democrats, the party that had once championed the working men and women who built this country, would have learned their lesson.
As one of my heroes, President Ronald Reagan, once famously said, “There you go again.”
In midterm races across the country, the Democrats are back calling Trump voters racists, this time for their stance of strong border security. As the caravan of 7,000 migrants moves ever closer to an illegal border crossing into our southern states, dog whistles have become blatant slurs.
Rightfully so, this slanderous language is an insult to the “blue collar” voters around the country. And once again, Democratic candidates are driving away the very people who were once the lifeblood of their party.
Americans may well see the extent of this alienation after the midterm elections next week. Over the past two decades, the president’s party has lost an average of approximately 30 House seats in midterm elections. That’s because the opposition party — after two or four or six years of sustained resistance — is usually more energized and better-funded than the incumbents.
The Democrats must pick up 26 seats next week to regain control of the House. For months, the establishment media has droned on incessantly about the coming “blue wave,” a supposed cadre of young, progressive candidates that would trounce Republican incumbents all across the country, and especially in blue-collar districts that had voted for Mr. Trump in 2016.
Yet a number of races in states like Ohio and Minnesota see Republicans beating back the advances of better-funded Democratic candidates; races like Ohio’s 1st Congressional District and Minnesota’s 8th appear to be breaking Republican in the final stretch.
Democrats may indeed take back control of the House in November. Such a result would conform with recent history. It appears Republicans are on track to keep control of the Senate. But it seems clear now that the media-made narrative of a “blue wave” is largely a myth; and, if enough Republican incumbents can hold on and the party manages to retain control of the House, Americans may yet be in for a repeat of President Trump’s historic and shocking victory in 2016.
That is because Democrats, yet again, have overlooked — or worse, deliberately ignored — the concerns of middle-class voters in this country. Americans of all political persuasions desire strong border security, a healthy economy and job security. Instead of providing their own blueprint for how to achieve these things, Democrats have gone on the attack against their own would-be “blue-collar” voters; calling them racists, xenophobes, uneducated and “privileged.”
My own upbringing could be called quintessentially “American blue collar.” My father began his working life digging sand for an hourly wage, while my mother raised three children at home. Because of my parents’ hard work, I was able to attend good schools and reach for goals in business beyond anything I could have imagined. In return, my parents, and “blue collar” parents like them from across the country, asked only for respect. It was a pretty good bargain, if you ask me, but it’s one that’s still lost on the Democratic Party.
• Anthony Scaramucci is a political consultant, co-founder of SkyBridge Capital and the author, most recently, of “Trump: the Blue Collar President” (Center Street, 2018).
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