It ain’t easy winning a presidential race, even if you’re running against a corrupt incumbent like Donald Trump or his hapless, sleepy eyed successor, Mike Pence.
Democrats will need to be on top of their game to defeat either member of the less than dynamic GOP duo. A majority of Americans may dislike Donald Trump a lot, but he still enjoys the support of 35 to 40 percent of an electorate who will walk barefoot over hot coals of hellfire with him. The president also has a unique way of cutting his opponents down to size, which is the best tool he has in his bid to win re-election. The late Democratic politician Congressman James Michael Curley of Boston even demonstrated that a candidate could win federal office running from a jail cell.
There are divisions within the Democratic Party which the incumbent can exploit. The Bernie people and the Hillary people are still at odds. There is also an ongoing debate within my party over tactical choices. Should Democrats nominate a presidential hopeful who can motivate the emerging ascendant coalition of Millennials, Blacks and Hispanics? Or does the party focus on winning back the older white voters who supported the GOP in 2016.
There is no easy answers to these “either/or” questions facing the Democratic Party in 2020. To win in 2020, Democrats need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
There will be a battle between the Clinton and Sanders factions within the Democratic Party. Should the party nominate a populist progressive like Bernie Sanders or a centrist like Joe Biden? Establishment Democrats dismiss Sanders as a fake Democrat who is too liberal to woo moderate voters. Berniecrats believe that a Biden nomination would be a rerun of the 2016 defeat of a status quo politician who has no appeal to voters starved for change.
The answer is the party needs to find a candidate who appeals to both camps. The two factions may not like each other but they need each other. Sanders may have lost the nomination but almost half of the Democratic primary voters supported the senator from Vermont over Hillary Clinton. The exit polls in 2016 indicate that a tenth of the Sanders primary supporters did not vote for Clinton in November. They voted for Trump, Green Party nominee Jill Stein or didn’t even bother to show up at the polls. The Democratic nominee will need all those votes in November 2020. The Stein vote was larger than Trump’s victory margin in a few key battleground states.
Since neither Sanders nor Biden are acceptable to both factions, the best bet would be to nominate one of the other potential candidates such as Beto O’Rourke of Texas or Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Both hopefuls haven’t spent much time in Washington, are natives of states with lot electoral votes and can raise tons of money. All of these factors are important considerations in the campaign to beat Trump.
Democrats also need to reject the false choice between courting the ascendant coalition and the white working class voters who jumped ship in the last presidential election. The only way for Democrats to win is to get back the electoral votes in the industrial Midwestern states that put Donald Trump over the top in 2016. The Democratic Party must boost minority turnout in big cities like Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee and woo the working class white voters who live in the suburbs of those large urban centers.
An appeal to both groups is not mutually exclusive. Both groups of voters are struggling financially. Sluggish wage growth and surging inflation have left most Americans worse off financially than they were in 2000. The monthly increase in jobs obscures the problems low income and middle class Americans continue to have making their monthly mortgage payments, feeding their families, paying medical bills and planning for retirement.
Democrats flipped 40 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The set of talking points the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent its winning House candidates during the 2018 campaign is a useful guide to reaching the hearts and minds of voters in 2020. The successful platform was an exercise in basic kitchen table economics.
“Lower your health care costs and prescription drug prices.”
“Increase your pay through strong economic growth by rebuilding.”
“Clean up corruption to make Washington work for you.”
Democratic presidential hopefuls need to steer clear of shiny objects and stick to the basics. Sex and corruption scandals get a lot of attention but garner few votes. Cultural issues divide Americans. Economic concerns bring them together.
Americans supported Donald Trump because he said he would change things for the better. But all he’s done is make things worse. Donald Trump promised to help working Americans and he responded with tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans. Individual 1 pledged to help middle income Americans but all he done is to use his office to fatten the Trump family coffers.
Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is a simple solution. It’s not “sexy,” but the best way to go after Trump is his failure to do the job he promised to do. Democrats can make promises, but the easy way to topple Trump is to hold him responsible for not keeping his.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.