Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti said Sunday that President Donald Trump is able to rally his base and some independents by using symbols of American patriotism.
Continetti’s comments came during a discussion on NBC’s "Meet the Press" of Americans’ views of NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Host Chuck Todd introduced the discussion by referencing a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that showed a majority of Americans believe it is inappropriate for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem. Fifty-four percent of Americans deemed kneeling inappropriate, while 43 percent disagreed.
Eighty-eight percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Independents said kneeling was inappropriate, but only 23 percent of Democrats answered similarly.
Continetti noted that the poll shows Trump continues to stand with most Americans on the issue. "A few things struck me from the poll. First, Trump continues to be on the majority side with this issue."
Continetti added that the poll points to how Democrats miss the cultural element of populism which the president grasps and employs to rally support.
"For all there are discussions of populism, Democrats tend to view populism strictly through an economic lens, but they have to understand there’s also this cultural lens that has to do with symbols of American patriotism and the American story," Continetti said. "Trump is very effective at seizing on those symbols, polarizing them and rallying his base and some of those independents to his side."
A Washington Post poll from May also showed a majority Americans opposed players kneeling. Fifty-three percent of Americans said it was never appropriate to kneel in protest during the national anthem, including 51 percent of independents polled in the survey.
Trump has criticized the NFL over its national anthem policy in recent months. He tweeted in August that players should find another way to protest.