The biggest takeaway from the 2016 presidential election was that Main Street America was so sick of elites in Washington DC telling them how to live that they elected a politically inexperienced, trash-talking billionaire from New York City to ‘drain the swamp’. While some suburban women appear to have tired of Donald Trump’s style, there is little evidence that the mass of voters who sent that message regret their decision, especially in key states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
With the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump shockingly is getting his third appointment to the Supreme Court in less than four years. That appointment will shift the Supreme Court from a soft 5-4 conservative majority dependent on the institutional concerns of Chief Justice John Roberts to a cushion 6-3 conservative majority that can afford to let Roberts wring his hands in concurrences and dissents. To say this shift is monumental would be an enormous understatement.
Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett will do far more than just supercharge hardcore pro-life and pro-choice voters and impact future judicial decisions. Barrett’s nomination will bring many disaffected suburban women back into the Trump fold and greatly increase his chances of again carrying key Midwestern states. This effect will occur for two reasons.
First, Democrats and their liberal-progressive allies won’t be able to resist a full-on assault on Barrett and her family, which will turn-off Midwest suburban women far more than Trump’s past tweets. Before Trump even nominated Barrett, they launched their preemptive strike against Barrett by tying her Catholic faith to the dystopian _Handmaid’s Tale_ where women are subjugated by men, which seemed an odd attack given Barrett’s appointment would make her one of the most powerful women in the world.
On Friday night, left-wing comedian Bill Maher attacked Barrett by claiming she is so crazy Catholic that she ‘speaks in tongues’, which isn’t really a Catholic thing. Long-time Democratic operative Dana Houle went even further on Twitter on Friday night by attacking Barrett’s adoption of two black kids from Haiti, demanding an investigation of those adoptions. Arguably this is more repulsive than anything Trump has tweeted.
The second and more important reason Barrett’s nomination will bring many suburban women back into the fold is entirely due to who she is. Many women will view Barrett as a regular suburban mom just like them. This is where Barrett’s biography is deadly to Democratic attack lines: small-town, middle America, Catholic, teacher, mother of seven, with two kids adopted from Haiti after a devasting hurricane and one kid with Down’s Syndrome. Demonizing any part of her biography inherently demonizes thousands of other women sharing that same trait or who will find nothing but goodness in Barrett’s biography.
Other than Justice Clarence Thomas, who attended College of Holy Cross before heading to Yale Law School, Barrett will be the only Supreme Court Justice who didn’t attend an elite Ivy League school for college, law school, or both. She went to Rhodes College in Tennessee and Notre Dame Law School in Indiana. You know, Notre Dame, the one college in America given its broad national appeal that has its own television football contract, a cult classic movie (_Rudy_) based on a benchwarming local who finally gets into a game, and, lest we forget, gave us Ronald Reagan’s famous movie role in which he asked his Notre Dame coach to ‘win just one for the Gipper!’
Other than Neil Gorsuch, who lived in Colorado following his appointment to the 10th Circuit, she will be the only justice who didn’t spend the bulk of her adult life since turning 18 in elite Ivy League schools or among the elite lawyers and politicians in the Acela corridor. She spent most of her life in South Bend, Indiana, living among her working-class neighbors who largely make up that city.
Barrett is a wholesome, Walmart soccer mom who drives a minivan.
If you think I’m overstating Barrett’s appeal, look no further than fellow South Bender former Mayor Pete Buttigieg. On about the thinnest résumé possible, Buttigieg raised over $75 million, won the Democratic Iowa Caucuses, and came in second in the Democratic New Hampshire primary. Buttigieg accomplished these feats largely due to his Midwestern appeal, seeming to be a ‘Regular Guy’ in the eyes of Democratic voters. Barrett’s appeal to voters in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will be even stronger.
Barrett’s appeal, however, likely won’t stop in the Midwest. Given her strong Catholic faith, Democratic attacks on her beliefs run the risk of turning off Hispanic voters densely populated in the key states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, as well as in red Texas. According the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Hispanics claim Catholicism as their religion. Thus, Democratic attacks on Barrett’s Catholicism will alienate some Hispanic voters. Keep in mind, in a close election, a few percentage points swing from one side to the other could be enough to win the state so Democrats attack Barrett at their own electoral peril. Arizona and Colorado also have tight Senate elections so Barrett could result in more than just Trump’s reelection.
It would be ironic if the Democratic demonization of Barrett contributes to the defeat of Joe Biden. After all, it was under Biden’s chairmanship in 1987 that the era of personal demonization of Supreme Court nominees began, when he and Ted Kennedy launched their smears on Robert Bork. Amy Coney Barrett is far more than a wicked smart conservative judge. She is middle America personified.
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