Donald Trump is very worried about losing the vote of that prize of every election cycle, the suburban woman, who in his mind is a white woman and housewife who still lives in 1968, loves Richard Nixon, dutifully makes dinner every night, and consents once a week to having bad sex where she doesn’t orgasm. Which explains why, on Thursday, Trump and his administration announced they would fully repeal an Obama-era fair housing rule meant to fight racial segregation and discrimination, a rule that Trump warned in a tweet would “destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” specifically the neighborhoods of the “Suburban Housewives of America.”
Unsurprisingly, Trump is completely ignoring the fact that suburbs today are some of the most racially diverse—if still segregated—parts of the country. In his addled brain, the suburbs are still cookie-cutter white, full of nuclear families and wives who don’t work. He knows he has some major problems with white, college-educated women who live in the ’burbs, who are finally turning their backs on him. (What took y’all so long?) But if he thinks that doubling down on white grievance and emitting extremely loud dogwhistles about mobs who want to, in his words, “abolish our beautiful and successful suburbs” constitutes a winning strategy—versus, say, competently dealing with a pandemic and ensuring that public schools can safely reopen—he’s probably going to be disappointed.
For instance, large numbers of those white suburban women whose votes he’s so desperate to win disapprove of how he’s responded to the Black Lives Matter movement (even if they don’t support some of the key goals of the protest movement, which, hmm).
Take Jane Scilovati, a Pennsylvania schoolteacher who recently told the New York Times that the way Trump handles issues of race is a “disgrace” and “deplorable,” and that she regrets her decision to vote for him in 2016. “He doesn’t have any compassion or empathy; he doesn’t reference historical facts correctly,” she told the Times. “He’s brought more division to this country than we’ve seen since the Civil Rights Act.”
All the suburb-dwellers like Jane want is some peace and quiet, not necessarily a new civil rights movement. They want a president who can say the right words about racism, and not necessarily do anything to combat decades (or centuries, if we want to be accurate) of discrimination and segregation. But all Trump has in his playbook is division and white grievance. It may have worked once, but if polls are to be believed, it’s unlikely to work again.