Joseph Sabino Mistick: The Frank Costanza campaign strategy
“Serenity now!” That was Frank Costanza’s mantra in a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.” Frank, who learned the anger management device from self-help tapes, used the phrase anytime he felt that life had gone off the rails and his blood pressure was rising.
Instead of softly repeating “serenity now,” Frank shouted it, which was anything but soothing and only added more pressure to the situation that had provoked him. But he was on the right track conceptually. Sometimes you need to take everything around you down a notch.
In a recent CNN article called “If you think this week was bad, just wait,” Chris Cillizza listed one week’s worth of headlines coming out of the Trump administration. Starting July 19, every day was marked by chaos on several fronts, enough to make any American’s head spin. And last week delivered more of the same.
On a single day, the following headlines appeared: “Trump denies racist tweets were racist,” “Treasury secretary says he doesn’t find Trump’s tweets racist,” “Trump admin dramatically limits asylum claims by Central Americans,” “Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services chief says he does not know details of ICE raids,” “ ‘Squad’ responds to Trump: The US ‘belongs to everyone’” and “Trump gets his third acting secretary of defense this year.”
Before Trump, that was enough news for a month, but the provocateur-in-chief believes that he was elected to start trouble on every front, and he is doing it. And it is a task made for his New York City real estate developer’s style.
Just as some guys love a good bar fight — the sound and smell of it all, the deep rumble rolling across the floor, furniture crashing and glass breaking, with it ending as suddenly as it began — Trump loves political brawls. And his fans love it when he brawls.
But if you like to stop into a bar for an occasional cold beer and some regular conversation, too many donnybrooks can ruin it for you. And if you are an average American who does not follow politics carefully, but you check in when you can to stay informed, all the screaming heads can make you nuts.
Somewhere out there is a bloc of “serenity now” voters that can no longer take what’s going on, that just wants peace. And these “serenity now” voters cut across all parties, including Trumps, Non-Trumps and Never-Trumps, every religious and ethnic group and race, conservatives and liberals, and just about everyone who has had a family holiday ruined by the crazy politics that started during the last presidential campaign.
“Serenity now” voters know that we are Americans behaving badly, and they care about what our kids are seeing and hearing and whether America has changed for the worst forever. And many are sick and tired of the turmoil and chaos and meanness that greets them every morning and leaves them angry and unsettled every night.
As in 2016, it will not take much to swing the 2020 election, and “serenity now” voters could make the difference. A new chant, softer and quieter, may join the raucous calls to “lock her up” and “send her back.” Listen for it: “Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now.”
Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected].