Trump’s loyalty test and the path to 2020
PHOTO: AP IMAGES
President Trump drew scorn with his recent comment that Jews who vote for Democrats suffer from knowledge and loyalty deficits.
We Jews are renowned for our intelligence. The 70% to 80% of Jews who vote Democratic in presidential elections are indeed quite loyal — to the Democratic Party. And questioning Jewish “loyalty” spooked some Jews to recede into the dark fear that comes with the canard of dual loyalty over our ties to Israel.
Taken at face value, Trump’s comment seemed off-message. Which takes me to a recent off-the-record conversation I conducted with a long-standing source with close ties to the Trump administration. My source assured me that the president always knows exactly what he is doing and how he proposes to get it done before sounding off or embarking on any new policy.
It requires a great leap of faith to agree wholeheartedly. No political leader, or CEO for that matter, can lay claim to infallibility, although that’s not what my source was implying. Applying his contention to the case at hand, Trump, either intentionally or unintentionally, is trying to capitalize on a clear trend — in America and worldwide — where voters are shedding their long-standing partisan alignments.
Surveys conducted by the American National Election Studies group find that partisanship among young voters under age 30 has declined by about 25% compared to youth in the early 1960s. Russell J. Dalton, a professor of political science at the University of California at Irvine, labeled this trend “dealignment” in an academic paper he published last year titled “Party Identification and Its Implications.”
While noting political partisanship is normally formed early in life from a combination of factors, including parental transmission, geographic location, and social and religious backgrounds, the younger generation is decidedly fickle.
They will vote for a “flash” party that trumpets a single issue close to their hearts, which helps explain why one brand-new party always makes a splash in every Knesset election.
Dealigned voters stress personality over party, which helps explain how Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are leaders of the world’s two strongest democracies. Dealignment also explains why pollsters are so confounded every election: Many voters without party loyalty are deciding on a candidate at the last minute based on campaign events.
This is Trump’s target market for 2020.
Trump’s loyalty statement only offended the 100% of liberal American Jewish voters who were already offended by him. Personality issues aside, they don’t identify with Trump’s trashing of the two-state solution or his support for Bibi Netanyahu and Bibi’s coalition with the chareidim.
If Trump can leverage the political dealignment trend by lopping off even 5% to 10% of the Jewish vote and tack on similar percentages from other target audiences, he will pad his already formidable base of support.
If that’s indeed what Trump is after, what he really needs from American Jews is more disloyalty, not more loyalty.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 775)