Thursday, April 30, 2020

Why 2020 Could Be Another False Equivalence Election

President Donald Trump has an uncanny ability to project his own weaknesses onto his opponent: He’s rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off him and sticks to you. It’s a strategy that worked remarkably well against Hillary Clinton. He nicknamed her “Crooked Hillary” while his campaign was under federal investigation for ties to Russia. He reignited the debate over her husband’s sexual misconduct after multiple women came forward to accuse Trump of sexual assault, which he denies. He even accused Clinton of fomenting the ‘birther’ conspiracy theory about Barack Obama. Reminder: it was Trump who did that.

That doesn’t worry Republicans much. “Whether it’s a false equivalence is by nature kind of moot,” says Brown. “The way people consume information, it kind of nullifies whether it’s false or not. It becomes less a values question and more of a volume question.”

These are not exactly complicated campaign maneuvers. Trump is skilled at the age-old political trick of blowing enough smoke at his opponents so that voters assume there’s a fire there, even when he’s being consumed in his own conflagration. One Republican strategist called it “the ultimate whataboutism.” It also reflects the political rule that the best defense is a good offense. “It’s a tendency of most people in politics when they take fire to freeze and bunker,” says Brad Todd, Republican strategist and author of The Great Revolt. “President Trump understands that when you take fire you fire through it.”

Biden backers say he may be less vulnerable than Clinton was to the fog of false equivalence coming his way. Biden is a known quantity with consistently high favorability ratings since he left the Vice Presidency. Clinton had been tarred with right-wing vitriol for decades, which softened the ground for many of the attacks against her. “It cemented in voters minds a skepticism and an undercurrent and dislike towards her that Joe Biden just doesn’t have,” says Sams. “That allowed Trump’s attacks to catch on with voters in a way that I don’t think they will with Biden.”


  1. Once again, the liberal media misses the point.
    Trump succeeded with the "Crooked Hillary" brand because she WAS crooked. It was well documented. Tons of information on the Clinton Foundation and its corrupt ways of doing business. Tons of information on her and her missteps. What Time calls "whataboutism" was Trump simply pointing out hypocrisy. You think I'm corrupt and a thief? Well so's your golden girl so if you're just calling me out, it shows your moral deficiencies.
    When stuff comes out about Biden - Ukraine connections, stuff he did as vice president, his groping of women, his dementia, Time and the others will do the same thing. "You're just saying that to distract us from your evils!" they'll shout. And yes, that's exactly why Trump will do it, but people will ignore Time and the rest because even if it's true about Trump, it's also true about Biden.
    The liberal left's election platform has been "It doesn't matter if we run a pedophile murderer, you'll vote for him because he's not Trump! We have no moral responsibility because we're not Trump!" And the electorate doesn't agree.

  2. You have to remember that there are two ways to attack your opponent during an election. One is to attack his platform. Your economic plan won't work. Your foreign policy is going to cause problems. Any retort like "Well you're sucks more!" can be rebutted.
    The other is to attack him personally. "You're corrupt!" This time a retort like "Well so are you!" can't be rebutted. "I'm not corrupt!" Who will believe that, especially when we know he or she is.
    The Democrats almost exclusively attack Trump on a personal level. Hillary's campaign platform was "Trump's evil. Vote for me!" But enough voters thought "Well no, she's also evil" and that gave Trump the election. In 2020 the Dem's show every sign of doing the same thing, with the same possible result.


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