The fact that democracy as we know it would be fundamentally altered if Donald Trump were to win the 2024 election is a major driver of anxiety among pro-democracy voters across the country, and for good reason.
But here’s at least one tactic for defeating Trump: mocking him rather than playing into his strongman image. Trump's MAGA faithful love the fact that Democrats (own those libs!) and so-called RINOs alike fear him. What Trumpers don't like is being laughed at. And the good news is: The older Trump gets, the weirder and more addled he appears. As Daily Kos’ Mark Sumner wrote recently, the age issue is catching up with Trump as he more routinely mangles words and burps out head-scratchers, such as proclaiming that America will be on a collision course with "World War II" if President Joe Biden wins reelection.
But then there's video like the one below, circulated by the anti-Trump group Republican Accountability Project, where Trump is just, well, laughably bizarre. And in many ways, it doesn't matter that we don't have any idea what the heck he's attempting to relay to the audience at this recent campaign rally in Houston, Texas.
One of the most notable parts of the video is the crowd’s reaction—or lack thereof. Attendees fall mostly silent as Trump enacts some strange, infantile-esque contortion of trying to lift his clenched palms above his head. At one point, Trump squeaks out, "Heh, Mom, I'm sorry." Um, okay. This is their guy? This is the person they've bet all their marbles on—the only one capable of righting the ship and restoring America to its former glory, in their view? Wow. Seems pretty desperate, not to mention embarrassing.
In the latest “Pod Save America” podcast, the former Obama-bro hosts talked about the worthiness of poking fun at Trump as a strategy, even as we remain clear-eyed about the threat he poses. They recalled a 2020 attack ad from Team Biden highlighting world leaders literally laughing at Trump at international events.
The ad’s main goal was not to promote Biden. Instead, it aimed to remind soft Republicans and anti-Trumpers what a weak, weirdo figure he cut on the world stage. Doubling down on the tactic in 2024 will be an important part of reassembling the anti-Trump coalition that prevailed in 2020. Democrats absolutely need agitated anti-Trumpers to get to the polls and cast a vote against him—and that vote must be for Biden rather than some third-party alternative.
One of the reasons that Trump is polling reasonably well against Biden right now in head-to-head scenarios is the fact that many voters have forgotten how viscerally offensive it is to be confronted with Trump invading their space (i.e., their newsfeeds and televisions) on a daily basis. They are also not super enthused about Biden at the moment. The problems are related but are perhaps best attacked separately.
Mocking Trump, demonstrating how insufferable he is day in and day out, will play a critical role in reminding voters how invested they are in defeating him.
The good news is, even mainstream outlets like The New York Times appear to be catching on to the fact that Trump ain't all there these days. As much as reporters fixate on Biden's age, if they start giving Trump the same treatment, that in itself would be worthwhile. There's certainly plenty of fodder to work with, and if they are going to harp on Biden's age, then Trump's age is equally worthy of scrutiny.
Not all mockery of Trump is created equal. His MAGA acolytes aren't exactly concerned about the fact that he doesn't realize World War II isn't in the offing anymore. In general, policy gaffes never land with them. Trump's cultists also aren't particularly concerned right now about his legal trouble, as Daily Kos’ Hunter recently wrote. They have convinced themselves that Democrats are unfairly attacking Trump precisely because he's so fearsome (own the libs!). But viral videos and other news stories that make their supposed strongman look weak in real life and, indeed, laughable—that will pack a punch worth taking.
So the next time you wonder whether sharing that mockable TikTok or tweet you saw about Trump is really worth the effort—go ahead, live a little. Have some fun at his expense. It just might help.