How President Trump Just Won Re-Election
It's visuals that take down a president, and the video of George Floyd's death is about as graphic as it gets — just like the victims of Hurricane Katrina stranded on rooftops, waving for help that was slow to come.
Katrina was the end of President Bush's presidency, even though it occurred at the beginning of his second term. After Katrina, Bush lost credibility and limped through the last three and a half years of his administration. After Katrina, Republicans lost control of Congress, and Bush was powerless to accomplish anything, even if he had wished to.
Bush was charged with being too slow and ineffective in his response to the storm. In fact, it was local and state Democrats who were slow and ineffective. The mayor of New Orleans seemed to have no advance plan and left much of the city submerged and in chaos, and it was Louisiana's governor, also a Democrat, who was slow to call out the National Guard. Slow on purpose, many would say. In reality, Bush's response was about as effective as it could have been, given the inept response at the local level.
But George Bush failed when he crumbled in response to media criticism and flew to New Orleans to abase himself in front of the cameras at Jackson Square. There he apologized to the black community and promised billions in reparations for what that community had gone through. It made no difference: the left hated him even more. But by demeaning himself in this way, Bush lost what support he still had on the right.
President Trump faces a similar moment, but his response has been just the opposite. In the wake of the Floyd protests, the president has defended law and order. He has defended business owners and police at a time when Democrats are claiming that reliance on the police is a form of "white privilege."
So when a violent criminal is breaking into my house and I call 911, that's "white privilege," and I should just let myself be robbed and murdered?
This is the crucial moment of the Trump presidency, but not in the way the media have framed it. By standing his ground and resisting calls for change, the president will win another term. Conservatives are watching Trump's response with intense interest because in defending law and order, he is defending us as well. Conservatives know that they have nothing to apologize for. It is the rioters, looters, and killers in the streets, including many young white radicals, who should be apologizing — and they should apologize from inside a prison cell.
Despite a recent Quinnipiac poll showing that 51% of Americans believe that the president is a racist, conservatives know that he is not and that racism is not a systemic problem in America. Nor do they believe that the police response in George Floyd's arrest was typical of policing in this country. Conservatives know that a disproportionate level of crime exists in black sections of American cities, and they believe that the problem lies with criminals, not the police. Policing broke down in the case of George Floyd because police in Minneapolis operate under a Democrat administration that appears to have exercised little control of its force. A well run police force is not going to retain an officer who has 17 serious complaints on his record.
Conservatives know that the Floyd case has been blown out of all proportion by the media for political purposes. We are tired of hearing that Floyd was a saint who was the victim of systemic racism. He was not. He was a repeat offender and drug-user who was the unfortunate victim of incompetent and perhaps criminal policing. There is a problem, I believe, in Minneapolis and other Democrat-run cities, but Larry Kudlow was right when he said on Wednesday that the U.S. does not have a problem with systemic racism.
The only real solution to the violence in our cities is for criminals to stop committing crimes, and for that, young men must be brought up differently. Black males, on average, commit seven times the number of murders as do those in the general population, and blacks themselves are six times as likely to be victims. It is the criminals who are responsible for the violence in our country, not the police.
It would help if black leaders like the Rev. Al Sharpton would acknowledge this fact. Instead, as he did in his eulogy for George Floyd, Sharpton maintains that the problems blacks face are the fault of whites. "Ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed to being is you kept your knee on our neck," he declared.
No—whites don't have their "knee on your neck." The fact is that with affirmative action blacks have opportunities denied to whites. Blacks go to the head of the line at school and in the workplace, but apparently that's not enough.
Now some are asking for a lump sum in reparations and for community self-policing outside the control of state, city, or federal government, as well as for abolishing the police everywhere so that criminals can rob, rape, and murder with impunity. How much farther do we have to go before we realize that the solution is for all of us to adhere to the same civilized rules?
Fortunately, President Trump has been unwavering in his opposition to the left's radical proposals. He has pointed clearly to the source of the violence. He has been ready to assist cities in putting down riots, and he is insisting on prosecution of those responsible for violence.
Most importantly, he has not given in to the demands of protestors and critics. Conservatives expect President Trump to defend what is right, and they know that the looting and rioting are not our fault or the president's. He must act in a manner that makes that clear. If the president stands his ground, he will retain the conservative vote in November and win re-election.
The Floyd case need not be President Trump's Katrina. Only by abasing himself, apologizing, or offering reparations can he make it so. All he need do to retain conservative support is to stick to the truth: Americans are not racists, American police are overwhelmingly honest and decent, and America offers more opportunity and freedom for all its people than any nation on Earth.
So far, the president has stuck to his guns, despite pressure from the left. By doing so, he will retain his conservative base and win re-election in the fall.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).