Pollsters discuss the “shy” Trump vote; but a great many voters aren’t “shy;” they are self-preserving. In this “cancel culture,” there is high risk in expressing any pro-Trump sentiment in public, in workplaces, and even within social circles and families. The crypto-Trump supporters driven underground are political Marranos. And they will vote.
Originally published in The Times of Israel
And the winner is…Donald Trump! At least, if my political-Marrano theory is correct.
We all see the same polls. Other than a couple of outliers, they currently project a solid Biden victory. Some show a double-digit lead in the popular vote. Even digging down state-by-state, it looks like an uphill battle for President Trump. He’ll need a lot of variables to break his way to eke out an electoral victory. That is, however, if the polls are accurate.
One big break could be turnout among what pollsters are calling the “shy Trump vote”—those Trump voters who stay under the pollsters’ radar or otherwise hide their true intention to vote for Trump; how many is inherently a matter of speculation.
I suspect that when the count is over, that number will blow people away. Because even discussing a marginal “shy Trump vote” shows a lack of appreciation for what is actually going on out there. The truth is that a great many voters aren’t “shy;” they are self-preserving. In a public environment so ubiquitously hostile to the president, there is little upside—and a lot of risk—in expressing any pro-Trump sentiment in public, in workplaces, and even within social circles and families.
Pollsters from the outside likely see this differently than do voters actually living in their hyper-politicized reality. To the pollster, this is yet another bruising American election season; but for many Trump voters, this is more akin to the Spanish Inquisition. And in this environment, many Trump voters have opted to become political Marranos.
“Political what?” If that is your reaction, here is short historical refresher. Spain (and Portugal) had been comparatively hospitable to Jewish populations during roughly five centuries of Islamic rule, as long as Jews accepted their second-class dhimmi status and paid special taxes. Christian reconquest introduced coercion of Jews to convert to Catholicism. In the 14th and 15th centuries, pressure increased greatly; Jews converted under duress in ever-greater numbers, many under the highly persuasive technique of periodic massacres of Jewish communities insufficiently enthused by the “choice” of Christianity granted to them.
Among these conversos (Jews who had opted for Baptism) were a great many who, to the extent possible, secretly maintained Jewish practice and belief. These crypto-Jews were known as Marranos by Spaniards, a word most likely meaning “swine.” Discovery of their secret Jewish practice meant death.
The Spanish Inquisition went into high gear to root out secret Jewish practice with the appointment in 1483 of Tomas de Torquemada as inquisitor-general. In 1492, Spain (and Portugal, in 1497) presented its Jews with a decree ordering conversion or expulsion; in the years following, Torquemada’s Inquisition tribunals arrested and tried tens of thousands of conversos for secretly practicing Judaism, burning thousands of the condemned at the stake.
Those suspected of practicing Judaism could be accused by anonymous witnesses, with the defendant having no right to see evidence or question an accuser. Tortured confessions were treated as legitimate. Those who reconciled with the church were still punished; many had their property confiscated—creating an incentive for politicized accusations—and were banished from public life. Those who refused to confess were burned alive at the stake; those who did confess were treated better: they were strangled first, then burned.
Judaism, to put it mildly, was not politically-correct in this environment. All Jewish practice was thus driven underground. Under these conditions, even the best Spanish pollsters of the Inquisition period would have undercounted Spain’s Marrano population.
I know—no one expects the Spanish Inquisition! Nor should they, in 2020 America. Yet, to what else should we compare the metastasizing demonization and cancel-culture facing anyone with beliefs insufficiently consistent with those of the self-appointed “woke” clerisy and social media inquisitors? While 2020 America does not burn alive its politically incorrect population, it certainly extracts punishment everywhere possible. All must watch their step. Even the Girl Scouts: last week, Girl Scouts USA, dedicated to educating young women about their unlimited potential, drew fire for this innocuous tweet: “Congratulations Amy Coney Barrett on becoming the 5th woman appointed to the Supreme Court since its inception in 1789.” Attacked by the likes of “Squad” member Ayanna Pressley, the Scouts scrambled to delete the post. And to “confess.” And apologize.
Similar examples follow one another so quickly that it’s hard to keep them straight. The result, to borrow from Stalin, is that while one “cancellation” is an injustice, a million cancellations becomes a statistic.
Social media giants Facebook, Instagram, Google, Twitter, YouTube and others lock or “shadow-ban” the accounts of conservatives for saying things progressives and Biden supporters don’t want said, sometimes after an opaque Kafka-esque “fact-check” process by their crack team of “experts:” twenty-something political partisans who apparently can instantly judge the accuracy of statements about everything from virology to constitutional legal history. Black conservative politicians seem specifically targeted for censoring. The process may not be transparent, but its use as a pretext to skew opinion is crystal clear.
Dennis Prager—Dennis Prager!—has had his popular Prager University videos (short, topical lectures by renowned figures and actual experts, including Alan Dershowitz and Bret Stephens) repeatedly “restricted”—ineligible for ad revenues, limited access, unavailable in schools and libraries—as being “inappropriate for children.” That is the category usually reserved for restricting pornography. Twitter recently locked the account of the New York Post for two weeks for breaking the Hunter Biden/Joe Biden bribery story. And locked the account of anyone else who linked to the bombshell story. Including the White House Press Secretary.
The outcry by supposed-liberals to this most illiberal suppression of political speech? [Cue sound of crickets.]
And it’s not just social media. University campuses in particular already enjoy the brave new world of inquisitional political punishment: one professor faced discipline after a student complaint that she used the “N-word”—in discussing James Baldwin’s use of the “N-word;” another was suspended for his “woefully racist” refusal to give lenient markings for black students’ final assessments; another was seen watching a “Back the Blue” pro-police rally in a park. Activists called for his boycott, and he now has no students in some of his classes—a mixed blessing, as that will give him time to fight the concurrent demands for his termination; another was been suspended for discussing a Chinese term (“nei ge”) because it sounds like the N-word. Sort of; a head football coach was seen in a picture wearing a t-shirt with the logo of a conservative-leaning news network. He saved his job with a self-flagellating “confession” of his sin and a $1 million pay-cut.
And it’s not just campuses. David Shore, a data analyst, was fired for tweeting the results of a study that found violent protests to increase voter turnout for Republicans, and peaceful protests for Democrats. Longtime San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Curator Gary was forced to resign for “racism” for having said half-jokingly that the museum would still collect art created by white males. His groveling apology could not save his career. Niel Golightly, a top executive at Boeing, recently lost his job because of an article he wrote in 1987 in which he opposed allowing women to serve as fighter pilots. Not even all the right apologetic confessional buzzwords were enough to save his job.
And it’s not just powerful people. Teachers and security guards with families, whose health insurance is tied to their employment, have been fired for sins such as failing to use a student’s self-identified gender pronoun. Students suspected of “Zionism” are hounded and harassed.
And it’s not just in public. Personal lives suffer, too, even within families. I know of one woman still keeping her promise to her father—to never speak to him if he voted for Trump. Anyone who has seen a dating site knows the frequency of profiles stating, “No racist Republicans or Trump supporters.” A woman I recently met asked to see what articles I wrote. I forwarded her my last column (about old-style Democrats fearing a progressive Democratic victory), to which she responded: “I’m glad you sent me this. Now I don’t have to waste time talking to you.”
And it’s not just things people say. Letters are showing up at Trump-supporting homes across the country warning: “You have been identified by our group as being a Trump supporter. Your address has been added into our database as a target for when we attack should Trump not concede the election. We recommend that you check your home insurance policy and make (sure) that it is current and that it has adequate coverage for fire damage. You have been given ‘Fair Warning.’…Always remember that it was ‘you’ that started the Civil War. Be prepared to face the severe consequences of your pre-emptive actions against democracy.”
The threats against people and property with Trump yard signs and bumper stickers has had its intended effect: over two-thirds of Trump voters forego Trump-supportive paraphernalia out of fear their homes will be vandalized.
The “peaceful protesters” assaulting restaurant diners, forcing them to raise their fists and pledge support for BLM; the implicit threats to businesses “requested” to put BLM supporting signs in their windows; the targeting of individuals by mobs massing outside their homes, invading their property, shining lights in windows and generally menacing the families inside—all with little or no police interference; these things hardly make people eager to reveal to pollsters their intent to vote Republican. But they do, to the shame of the country, drive underground any political expression by a great many citizens.
The unholy alliance between pro-Biden politicians and the BLM and Antifa mobs they enable may squelch public expression of support for Trump. But for those on the receiving end of the intimidation, it can only steel their resolve to vote against the inquisition.
So, to circle back, are there enough of these political Marranos to erase the substantial Biden lead in the polls?
Hard to know. But there have been some interesting attempts at quantifying crypto-Trump voters. Last week, a Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, explored whether a “spiral of silence” is skewing polling outlooks as a result of Trump supporters being too wary to publicly express their support for the President. Some creative questioning was used to tease out their answer, but it becomes clear that the answer is yes, and the numbers are substantial.
In 2016, the polls underestimated the Trump vote—by some 4% nationally, and over 7% in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. As much as the pollsters try to correct for their past errors, the crypto-Trump vote should be at least as substantial in this year’s more toxic environment. The Real Clear Politics polling average shows Ohio as tied, Biden up by over 6% in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, and generally a couple of points ahead in most other swing states.
Unlike the original Marranos, these underground Trump-supporters can still vote for their leaders. As can everyone. Crypto-Trumper or not, anyone who thinks the Inquisition was a bad idea should think twice about putting today’s Torquemadas and their enablers in power.
We’ll know soon if there are enough Marranos and their anti-Inquisition allies to upend today’s polls. I’ve been wrong (occasionally) before; but I suspect there are far more than we think.