President Donald Trump has something in common with his opponents: Both are very much looking forward to 2020. Trump loves campaigning, and his opponents love the idea of him getting voted out of office.
Well, President Trump’s already started his reelection campaign. He officially filed his bid with the Federal Election Commission on Inauguration Day, and has been raising millions for his efforts since then. Now he’s sponsored and released his very first reelection ad (it’s unofficial, though it literally features a campaign sign).
The video launches within a particularly tense climate in the United States, after a terrorist drove a car into a counter-demonstration at a white power rally in Charlottesville on Friday, killing one woman. President Trump blamed “many sides” for the violence in a statement.
On Sunday, two days after the Charlottesville attack, President Trump released an unofficial reelection video that deliberately stokes divisions within the country and uses language condemning his opponents as “enemies.”
The video blames Democrats, the media, and career politicians for obstructing Trump’s agenda. “The president’s enemies don’t want him to succeed,” a voiceover narrates, “but Americans are saying, ‘Let President Trump do his job.’” As the next election season approaches, he’ll undoubtedly keep using this victimhood defense to respond to critiques that he hasn’t fulfilled his campaign promises.
But the video also assures viewers that “President Trump’s plan is working.” It cites the fact that 1 million jobs have been added to the economy as proof of this, and that figure is correct; but as Fortune reports, “Experts warn that it may not be the best measure for taking the temperature on the economy, and certainly not an accurate reflection of Presidential efforts.” 1,074,000 jobs have been added to the economy under President Trump, and 1,246,000 jobs were added under President Obama in 2016 over the same time frame.
How do Trump’s reelection moves compare to those of past presidents? Barack Obama announced his bid for 2012 reelection in April 2011, or 19 months before the election. President Bush and President Clinton both launched their campaigns 18 months before their reelections. President Trump filed his bid 48 months before the 2020 election (again, on Inauguration Day), and this ad comes 39 months before the election.
The rise of the internet makes it practical for campaigns to launch earlier than they could before. This YouTube video costs Trump much less than running a more traditional television ad; he can now release propaganda easily and cheaply, as well as trust that it will reach a wide and diverse audience.
It looks like we’ll be subjected to Trump’s campaigning for the entirety of his tenure in office.