A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph:
Donald Trump’s approval ratings in the UK have never been good. Rarely achieving above 25 per cent among the British public, the latest YouGov ratings see him with a mere 15 per cent approval rating. Thankfully for The Donald, he is not seeking the endorsement of the British public, and among Americans he enjoys far greater support.
One reason that explains the divide is that almost everything the British public see of Trump is the negative stuff. He is undoubtedly brash, boastful, offensive and often coarse, which offends British sensibilities. What the British public often miss are the considerable achievements, which often do not travel in a media that is almost unanimously sniffy, if not downright hostile to him.
Take the foreign policy breakthroughs of recent months alone. When it comes to Middle East policy, the British Government remains wedded to an approach based on the belief that peace in the region depends on the Palestinian cartel agreeing to a deal they have spent seven decades rejecting. By contrast, the Trump administration has sought to break that deadlock. Country after country in the region have signed “normalisation” deals with Israel, with more to come. Instead of getting America tied up in wars in the Middle East, the dealmaker Donald Trump has turned out to be a peacemaker. The American public has noticed this.
As it has also noticed the success of many of his policies at home. At the height of his economic boom – before the coronavirus shutdowns – America was experiencing record lows of unemployment, with hundreds of thousands of new jobs created each month. To achieve this, Trump did things that no US president had dared to do, cutting deals and imposing tariffs that incentivised employers to create jobs in America, rather than outsourcing abroad. Not least to China.
And then there are the cultural wins. In the US – as in Britain – there are ideologues of the radical Left who do not just have specific concerns about our history, but seem to hate all of it. American activists of BLM-Antifa, along with simple anarchists and looters, have in recent months been busily pulling down statues, torching cities and smashing up businesses across the country. In Portland, Oregon, I recently saw these paramilitary groups laying siege to a federal facility, provoking federal police into running battles. Later that night those same activists went out to topple one of the last remaining statues in their town.
The best of these thugs claim that they are waging war on a racist, formerly slave-owning state that must be punished for its crimes. Trump rejects all of this as the ahistorical, spoilt, anarchistic nonsense that it is. As he said at a rally I attended in Florida last week, the country needs to stop teaching its young people to hate their country. They need instead a “patriotic education” which helps them see the historic good that America has done.
When the issue of mandatory “implicit bias training” came up again earlier this year, Trump responded by announcing that he was banning it. Neither federal employees nor those who work for private companies should be radically indoctrinated by their employers. Besides, as Trump pointed out, these exercises are by their nature simply racist.
Of course, a lot of the opinion-forming classes are caught off-guard by this sort of action. Even where they are not supportive of such anti-Americanism, they are keen on “on the one hand, on the other hand”-ism. But that is not the Trump way, and when it comes to countering decades of cultural, political and media rot many frustrated voters believe that the blunt Trump approach is the right one.
Who knows if this will make an impact on Tuesday? The polls still do not look good for him. But there is one factor that British and American observers have not taken in to account. That is the radically different message which the two camps – and their media – are now giving out.
Apart from expecting victory, the Biden team and their supporting media talk of social distancing, the virus, mortality rates, lockdowns and more. After a Biden victory, the future looks scary, isolating and bleak. By contrast, the Trump team – and the media who support them – are keen to get America going again, to downplay the virus and to talk up the opportunity America has before it. The world may be expecting Biden to win big this week. But from the centre of the storm, I wouldn’t rule out another upset.
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