By Jake Novak
It’s one thing to lose an election; it happens to everyone in politics.
It’s one thing to lose a sports match; it happens in every sport.
But something even rarer is happening in American politics right now, the losers don’t know why they’re losing and many of them don’t even realize they’re losing at all.
In this case, the losers are the Democrats. They not only lost the 2016 presidential election, but continue to lose major battles with the Republicans over key issues like tax reform and the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation.
Many of them are shocked by these losses for a number of reasons. But they mostly stem from a fundamental lack of understanding of President Donald Trump and his supporters, with a lack of self-awareness thrown in.
If you have family members, friends, or acquaintances who dislike President Trump intensely, (and it seems like we all do), there’s a good chance these are the three biggest mistakes they’re making when they try to understand, let alone debate, people on the other side.
They Don’t Get How Trump Communicates
Ask people what they don’t like about President Trump, and people who hate him and even a good percentage of people who voted for him will both say they’re offended by a lot of what he says and tweets. They’ll talk about how his bragging and overall bravado is “unbecoming the office of the presidency.” And many will add that President Trump often simply doesn’t tell the truth.
Here’s a newsflash for all of you: this is by design.
For example, when President Trump talks and tweets about how U.S. economic growth is the “best ever,” he knows that’s not quite true. But he also knows that if he simply said it’s the best in 10-15 years, no one in the general news media will report it. So instead, he tricks them all into writing and broadcasting extensive stories about how he “lied” and the economy is “only” growing at the best levels in more than a decade.
This kind of thing happens all the time with a number of Trump boasts. The news media and the Trump-haters gleefully point out inaccuracies in the president’s statements and truly believe they’ve damaged him politically. Meanwhile, they’ve given every word he says and every issue he discusses the most possible publicity.
This leads to the strong dichotomy that exists between the way the public perceives what President Trump says and what he does. Again, ask people what they don’t like about this president and you’ll most likely hear a litany of things that he’s said that angers them. But if you press them to explain the specific policies and actions they oppose, things get a little quieter.
Again, this stems from a media-generated misconception that most Americans want their presidents and politicians to be eloquent and respectful speakers; guys and gals that they’d be proud to have speak at their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah or just have dinner with.
In reality, the American people want their politicians to get things done. And while not everyone likes what President Trump has said, many more people approve of his actions. Politicians love to value words over action; everyone else thinks the other way.
They Don’t Get How Much Obama and Clinton Bring them Down
I’m sure a lot of us know people who absolutely loved President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But both of them had enormously high negative poll ratings considering the fact that one was a two-term president and the other was a major national party’s presidential nominee.
This lack of awareness seems to extend to Obama and Clinton themselves, as both of them have become more visible in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections. For those of us who pay closer attention to polling and the tenor of the voting public, it’s evident that every time Clinton or Obama show their faces in public it’s a net positive for Republican candidates just about everywhere.
By contrast, too many Trump haters seem to assume that his supporters revere him like many Obama supporters seemed to worship the former president. What they don’t get is that almost every Trump supporter will be happy to talk about how they’re aware of President Trump’s failings as a person. Then they’ll go into how they voted for and want to continue to support someone who “gets things done.”
Too many people on the left, and a good number of people on the right, long for politicians they can personally admire. Trump deeply offends them because he not only isn’t worthy of worship himself, but he stands as a strong reminder that no politician should be revered or considered anything other than an effective or ineffective servant of the people.
Trump Haters Are In a Bubble
A new national survey by pollster Scott Rasmussen shows Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to have no family members or friends who are not members of their political party. (73 percent of Republicans said they had Democrat friends and family members while only 52 percent of Democrats said they have Republicans as friends of family members).
Another problem is that Democratic voters are concentrated in the coastal big cities. That means they have large overall numbers in the general population, but it also means they aren’t as spread out across the country as Republicans are. This leads to cultural and political isolation.
Trump supporters would have to be living under a rock not to hear a daily dose of attacks on the president. They come from news broadcasts, entertainment TV and movies, and even in sports contests. There is no escape.
By contrast, Trump haters can easily avoid ever hearing any praise for him or his policies at any time. They may enjoy not having to hear the other side, but it comes with the likely lack of realization that there is any other side at all.
All of these factors favor the Republicans and Trump supporters because it makes it easier to keep their opponents off their game. The Democrats can’t defeat what they don’t understand, and they can’t understand what they don’t see.
Jake Novak has been a TV news producer and editorial columnist for more than 25 years, with expertise in political, economic, religious, and cultural issues. He has produced shows at CNBC, CNN, FOX, and several local stations across the country. Novak is a graduate of the Yeshivah of Flatbush, has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University, and a master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny and watch out for future columns on 5TJT.com.