The Committee to Re-elect the President ... But Not the One You Think
It’s never easy beating an incumbent president. And historically, it almost never happens when the economy is strong, as it is at the moment. The stock market is an especially good indicator of whether an incumbent will win or lose. So, if stocks are up in 2020, Donald Trump should be a sure bet for reelection.
But there’s a great big iceberg out there that could sink the hopes for a Trump second term. And the iceberg, of course, is Donald Trump himself.
I have written before about how if President Trump loses next year, it won’t be because a Democrat beat him. More likely, it would be because he beat himself.
I’m hardly alone believing that. Here’s David L. Bahnsen of National Review on the subject:
“If Trump were a more ‘normal’ president, his reelection chances would likely hinge on his record. The strength of the economy on his watch, the quality of the judges he’s placed on the bench, and the campaign promises he’s kept (withdrawing from the Paris Accord and the Iran deal, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem) would all be enough to see him reelected. But Trump is not a normal president. His erratic behavior and temperament are at the heart of a persona that turns off significant numbers of voters in key demographics. So 2020 will pit his policy achievements vs. his persona. Therein will lie the rub.”
Which brings us to a law in physics, the one about how for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. It’s true in politics, too.
Democrats running for president say Mr. Trump is out of the mainstream. That he’s a divider. So how do they respond? With their own ideas that are out of the mainstream and are more likely to divide Americans than bring them together; with ideas that even liberal Democrats would have found inconceivable not that long ago.
Conservative lawmakers in places like Alabama are passing laws that severely restrict abortion rights. Democrats respond not just by supporting what they like to call “the right to choose,” but by supporting abortion rights with no apparent restrictions.
Democrats say Donald Trump’s immigration policies are offensive to clear thinking Americans. So they support what amounts to open borders; they all want to give “free” healthcare to illegal immigrants. Do they think that policy won’t offend clear thinking Americans?
Democrats denounce Donald Trump and his party for not coming up with a plan to provide healthcare for Americans who can’t afford it. What’s the progressive response? Give the federal government the power to take over the nation’s healthcare system. Just what Americans want: faceless bureaucrats calling the shots on their medical care at a cost in the multi-trillions.
Democrats say Donald Trump's rhetoric is too hot and needlessly provocative. So instead of toning it down themselves, they turn up the heat and suggest he's personally responsible for the murders in El Paso.
They say he's nasty. So Bernie Sanders calls him an idiot. Others call him Hitler.
What the major candidates running for president on the Democratic side haven’t quite figured out is that what plays well with the progressive base, probably won’t play well with moderate swing voters.
Making Donald Trump look reasonable by comparison is not a plan Democrats want to embrace, not if they want to win next year.
Joe Biden was supposed to be the moderate who had the best chance of beating Donald Trump. The jury is out on whether he’ll stand up to his progressive opponents or become one of them.
Is Biden still against reparations for descendants of slavery? What’s his position on packing the Supreme Court? Does he think criminals in prison should be allowed to vote?
In his Wall Street Journal column, William Galston, a former policy wonk in the Clinton administration, writes that, “The positions the Democratic left is pushing would be a very hard sell in a general election. The 2020 Democratic platform could turn out to be the longest suicide note ever.”
Donald Trump and the progressives who want his job may seem to be polar opposites but they have at least one thing in common: both are playing to their take-no-prisoners base … at the expense of the crucial middle.
It’s a big mistake.
Donald Trump has shown no inclination to tone down the divisive rhetoric that would make it easier for moderates in the suburbs to vote for him. And Democrats are suffering from something that looks like the Stockholm syndrome, defined as, “a condition which causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity.”
But forming an alliance with the uncompromising, angry, passionate base may be creating a false sense of security for Democrats who want to replace Donald Trump. And before this is over, it may even cost them the election.
With progressives calling the shots, the gang of Democrats running for the White House may very well become The Committee to Re-elect the President.