What the Hell are We Running On?
Right now everybody is focused on Russia, William Barr and on impeaching Trump but no-one seems to be asking the question: How do the Democrats win in 2020?
Can they win by fixating on Russian collusion when the majority of Americans don´t support impeachment and as the information that is emerging is beginning to indicate that maybe Trump was right about this being a witch hunt. Have we on the left just been hoping for the silver bullet of the Mueller investigation instead of providing a real opposition to the substantive policies of this administration? Have we failed to elaborate a clear program for government that is not just “we hate Trump”? Have we in fact allowed Trump to steal our clothes on policies such as criminal justice reform and infrastructure?
Whatever the merits of the argument that the current record job numbers and strong economic growth is, in reality, based on the good work of the Obama administration, it’s pretty clear we can’t run on the economy. Whether by art or by accident Trump’s economic policies are producing jobs and wage growth and as Bill Clinton once said when it comes to elections “it’s the economy stupid”.
If we take a look at the current candidates for the Democratic nomination it seems clear to me that there are only a handful of serious contenders. Bernie Sanders has the solid base that means he’s on all the debate stages and competitive but it’s difficult to say if can he get enough moderate Democrats to win the nomination. Joe Biden has name recognition and appeals to moderates but one wonders whether he isn’t already at his peak in the polls and vulnerable to a fresher face. Kamala Harris is a serious contender who will undoubtedly stand out on the debate stage but, please forgive me ladies, there are questions marks about her “likeability”, questions unlikely to be dispelled by her ill-tempered grilling of William Barr. Pete Buttigieg has the freshness of an outsider untainted by Washington but it remains to be seen how long he can remain untarnished as the race intensifies. Although ahead of the debates it’s difficult to definitively rule out any candidate, okay maybe Kirsten Gillibrand, but these seem to be the main front-runners.
But regardless of who the democrats choose, what beyond moral outrage do they run on? The noise and the thirst for scandal threaten to drown out the policy platforms of candidates. The media are fully invested in destroying Trump and while that might be morally right, how far down that road do we want to go and what happens if we come up empty? Making Trump the main argument for your election didn’t work for Hilary Clinton, it rather allowed him to dominate the media coverage and back then he had nothing to run on. Now he has a booming economy, the defeat of ISIS and claims of persecution. It seems to me that the candidate who says enough and stops giving free publicity to Trump should be the one we get behind, but it seems that all the hopefuls are being led down a rabbit hole by the media and Twitter.
Trump has a clear message; we know what he stands for, and voters know what he stands for, but what if anything do the democratic candidates stand for? Nancy Pelosi says Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time when questioned about the distraction of impeachment and more investigations into Trump, but what if the sound of all that chewing drowns out everything else. Is dirtying up Trump going to be enough to win the election or should we expect more from the Democrats?