After President Trump ordered airstrikes that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani, tensions have steeply risen in the Middle East and around the world. World War III has become the top trending topic on Twitter. Naturally the question becomes, why is Trump doing this at the beginning of an election year? War in the Middle East has proven to be highly unpopular among the electorate, so why escalate further?
Trump’s approval rating has been steadily rising over the past months, up to above 45% in the wake of the impeachment debacle. Polling in key swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and others is trending in his favor.
So why increase Middle East troop presence and launch brazen attacks now? George Bush was barely able to win in 2004 despite a post 9/11 approval rating in the lower 80’s. Care to guess why? Turns out voters in key swing states do not care about fighting a war 6,000 miles away and care more about the way their lives are improving on the home front.
President Trump won in 2016 on four major issues: fixing the broken immigration system, draining corruption in Washington, combating radical Islamic terrorism, and fixing bad trade deals from the three previous administrations. He militarily defeated ISIS in a little over a year and in my opinion, has done a solid job fixing trade deals and standing up to China. While the push to drain the Washington swamp hasn’t moved as steady, that was the least realistic objective of his campaign that could be achieved. However, an escalated war in the Middle East will torpedo his re-election bid. The only people rooting for this war are the hawks in Washington who want to destabilize the region and profit off America’s suffering. Men like John Bolton who will turn on Trump out of spite, even though he’s getting his Iran conflict.
Over the next week, we are going to hear the historical argument that “a President has never lost an election during times of war”. Well, that argument simply doesn’t hold up. The notable wartime Presidents who were re-elected are Lincoln, FDR, and George W. Bush. All 3 had high popularity around the election and in Lincoln’s case, it was unlikely the country would vote out the sitting president in the midst of a Civil War.
No one will talk about the fact that Lyndon B. Johnson’s approval rating went from nearly 80% when he was sworn in to under 40% towards the end of his second term. You can argue other factors such as higher tensions due to the Civil Rights movement, but the primary reason is due to the fact was that every month we were bringing thousands of caskets back from a war that many people could not explain.
Overall, this conflict could not come at a worse time for Trump. He is only 10 months from the election and his approval is nearly at it’s highest since he took office. The left-wing media is going to take this and run with it for months. Outside of Biden, the entire democratic field is heavily non-interventionist and will throw out daily attacks against this decision. The only thing we can hope is that the tensions simmer down but it’s unlikely. Iran is fully preparing for war and the US appears to be also preparing for any counter-attacks.