Opinion | Muftic: Donald Trump has a nasty woman problem
Have you noticed how obsessed FOX and social media favorable to Donald Trump have become obsessed with Rep.Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (AOC)? In his rally announcing his second term, President Trump spent a significant amount of his speech time, fixated on Hillary Clinton, much to the delight of his audience who chanted “lock her up”. I pinched myself to make sure this was not in the middle of the 2016 campaign. It was the third presidential debate in 2016 when Candidate Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman”. In June this year, he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “nasty, vindictive, horrible person”. His name calling is not a problem aimed at a few powerful women. It is a millstone around his re-election neck.
Trump supportive media often reports AOC’s inflammatory words, usually with a visual image showing her angry. So much extensive hackle-raising coverage by media must have explained why I had a strange conversation the other day. A friend of mine, a dedicated Trump supporter and FOX fan, insisted to me that AOC was running for president. I tried to set her straight that AOC was not running for president. Oh yes, she is, my friend responded. I changed the subject to gardening. Eventually, my friend would figure it out herself when AOC never appeared on the Democratic candidate debate stage.
Why I asked me, is there such an obsession with very outspoken women politicians by those in the Trump camp? Clinton’s ideology, mainstream old fashioned Democrat, more middle of the road and AOC’s democratic socialism, a more radical view expressed in blunt and inflammatory ways, were not the same, either on issue positions or in style. AOC is much younger and more photogenic. Trump is justified in fearing Pelosi because she indeed has the power, skills, and official position to challenge him, but not because she is “nasty”.
There had to be some reason that caused such a devotion of time to promote fear and loathing of women who were not running for president in 2020. You would expect Trump, as a candidate to spend even more time to boasting of the great economy or his method of keeping America free of immigrants. However, “Build the wall” is still a chant at Trump’s recent rally, but even then AOC became the icon of wall opposition, too. Hope springs eternal, but Trump’s failure to build it is countered by announced ICE mass deportations and the building of more detention camps. Tongues on both sides of the aisle wagged at AOC’s calling these camps “concentration camps”. Granted, no one was being marched off to Nazi ovens, but the image of such facilities is hard to erase. Media coverage of unaccompanied migrant children crammed into unsanitary facilities, lice infected and dirty, and remaining there far past the few days they were supposed to be kept there may be a bargaining chip to force Democrats to fund border security, but cruelty to so many so young is a turnoff even to some women who profess to be Evangelical Christians. The Marist poll found 62% of women said that Trump’s emergency declaration at the border made them less likely to vote for Trump in 2020.
I have my theories about this obsession with AOC and Hillary Clinton, but from a political strategy, does it make sense or not? One way it could make sense is to consider it a method to paint every single woman candidate with the same brush of an uppity, nasty woman to be feared as some radical force infecting the entire Democratic field. More likely Donald Trump is simply ginning up his base that already contains voters hostile to women as a way to increase their enthusiasm and turnout. A study by a Tuft University professor post-2016 as reported in the Washington Post concluded that “Most voters with hostile sexist views were in the Republican camp, …; they had been moving Republican for many election cycles.” The researcher found that other factors were more important in determining the 2016 outcome.
On the other hand, looking at the results of the 2018 midterms and the failure of the GOP in attracting suburban women that most attribute to flipping the House from red to blue, it makes no political sense as a strategy to continue vilifying women if the GOP wants to expand its base. If the GOP is to regain control of the House and keep control of the Senate and White House in 2020, it certainly would not be helpful to continue to vilify women candidates. The gender gap between the GOP and the Democratic party has always been there, but a recent poll by PEW research late spring 2019, as reflected in Trump’s job approval by gender showed there were real problems for Trump’s re-election. PEW research found “..over his first two years in office, Trump’s average approval rating was much higher among men (44%) than among women (31%). This 13 percentage point gender gap is wider than for any of his recent predecessors, dating back to George H.W.Bush… ” For more, visit http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com
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