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Bankole: Democrats will have to fight hard to win Michigan


Bankole Thompson  |  The Detroit News

The president’s visit to Michigan Thursday confirmed this: Democrats cannot afford the luxury of playing it safe. They will have to fight in making the case to voters that the nation will be headed off a cliff in the next four years with Donald Trump.

In this campaign battle for November, Democrats will have to convince those who have been crushed in the four years of the Trump presidency to show up. That includes families of the victims of the pandemic.

What Trump demonstrated at his Freeland rally is that no stone will be left unturned in defense of his presidency, and he is not ready to show any remorse for the scandals and missteps that have rocked his reign.

In his most outrageous remark yet this election cycle, Trump claimed that he saved the American auto industry. It was Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, who came to the rescue of the auto industry in Detroit, at a time when another Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, had earlier disagreed with Obama’s plan to bail it out.

“I was in the room when President Obama made the-then unpopular decision to make a big bet on the American auto industry,” David Axelrod, former senior adviser to Obama, told me the day after Trump’s rally. “Without it, it would have crumbled. The history is very clear.”

There is no doubt the bailout of the auto industry accounts principally for the survival of GM and Chrysler today because of not only the jobs that were saved, but also the impact letting them go under would have had on Detroit and the rest of the Midwest.

Taking credit for what Obama did was purely Trumpian — and facts don’t hold much sway in Trumpian politics.

That’s the danger Democrats face in this election. Trump is not going to be defeated easily. He will do whatever it takes to retain the White House, and his rally showed that. A reality show presidential campaign that his supporters seem to revel in should not be taken lightly.

The fact that some 5,000 supporters showed up in Freeland for the president in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic explains the long-held belief that Trump’s base seems more enthusiastic than those who are following Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president. 

I recall visiting several polling locations on Election Day 2016 in Warren to examine the kind of support Trump had in Macomb County. Several people I spoke to kept repeating that they liked Trump’s personality. Few were interested in discussing the real issues that were at stake.

In fact, one particular supporter of Trump asked for the meaning of NAFTA when I brought it up, because weeks earlier Trump had campaigned at Macomb County Community College discussing the wider implications of the trade deal on the auto industry.

What I deduced from most of the people I spoke with in Warren was that they were taken in by the personality of Trump rather than his policies. No matter how absurd it sounds, some viewed Trump then as a messianic figure made for this era. They still do.

This is all the more reason why Democrats are facing a real danger in 2020, and this line from the science fiction thriller “The Hunger Games”: “May the odds be ever in your favor,” explains everything for the Biden campaign.

bankole@bankolethompson.com

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which broadcasts at 11 a.m. weekdays on 910AM.