It’s easy to say that America is facing instability leading up to the election. Whether it is the government’s COVID response, police brutality, or confrontations between protesters and counter-protestors. Americans are looking for stability and leadership. Right now, Trump isn’t providing that.
If he wants to have a shot at being reelected, he needs to change things. President Trump needs to make it so he is trusted in the areas that he is weak, such as race relations. He needs a Sister Souljah moment.
What is a Sister Souljah Moment?
A Sister Souljah moment is when you repudiate completely an extreme idea or movement within your own party. The term comes from 1992, when Bill Clinton fully condemned the statements of Sister Souljah and Jesse Jackson in the aftermath of the LA Riots. Sister Souljah was quoted defending the killing of white people during the riots.
To most moderate Democrats and independents, that statement was completely unacceptable. It warranted a response. Bill Clinton responded by condemning her remarks at a Rainbow Coalition event, comparing them to the rhetoric of David Duke
The move was completely calculated to give him credit with moderate voters and to distance himself from more extreme elements within his party. This has happened multiple times. For example, John McCain had a Sister Souljah moment in 2000 when he criticized Pat Buchannan for his divisiveness and extremism. In 2008, Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson Jr. both distanced themselves from Jesse Jackson Sr. following damaging open mic comments.
Why President Trump Needs One
According to a July poll, 56% of Americans strongly disapprove of President Trump’s handling of race relations. People see him as an agent of chaos throwing fuel on the fire. There needs a complete repudiation of extremism and police brutality. He needs to say something without making it a repeat of his controversial Charlottesville remarks.
The problem is that Trump has a tendency to go off the record during prepared speeches. He has a tendency to equivocate when he needs complete moral clarity. An example of this is when Senator Tom Cotton wrote the op-ed about sending in the troops to restore order in the twin cities. Sending in the troops was broadly unpopular among African Americans. This was a layup to pivot a seek more reconciliation with the African American community. Instead, President Trump tweeted that it was a good idea. This is a clear bobble when polling indicates Americans believe Biden would do a better job handling the protests, reducing violence, and keeping America safe.
What Trump Needs to Do
He needs a speech yesterday fully condemning violence from cops, white supremacists, and anyone else. In the same way that Biden fully condemned any violence on the side of the protestors, Trump needs to condemn police violence and white supremacist violence without slipping into moral equivocation. He can’t repeat his Charlottesville remarks, where he famously said there were “very fine people on both sides”.
It is clear that Trump needs to do something. The problem is that he might not be able to. Regardless, it’s clear that what is going on right now is not working. Trump needs to change if he wishes to win.