Democrats Cannot Stop Trump 2.0
“You’re awake, by the way,” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, deadpan, informed the viewers in a clip shared widely on election night 2016. “You’re not having a terrible, terrible dream. Also, you’re not dead, and you haven’t gone to Hell.” Hillary Clinton, a polished Madam Secretary, had lost an election to a person who had been viewed as a joke — a political outsider, an eccentric celebrity, and a real estate billionaire with a scandalous personal life and some shady business issues. “Donald Trump, the racist, sexist, xenophobic candidate of the Republican alt-right, has been elected President of the United States. … Today, so many Americans are mourning the death of American goodness,” asserted the HuffPost.
For the Democrats who could not accept the new reality, it was not just time to mourn, but time to resist and act.
Act they did. The campaign to impeach Trump started right when he was sworn into office and continued throughout his term. They launched a Mueller investigation, trying to prove that Trump was a Kremlin puppet, and failed. They made a partisan attempt to impeach him in an election year and failed again. To fight him, the leftist establishment carried out a total mobilization, gathering under its banners everyone even remotely fit for recruiting, from swanky Hollywood celebrities to stone-cold Washington bureaucrats, from billionaires Michael Bloomberg and George Soros to violent masked Antifa gangs, from loud-mouthed liberal media to the most influential think-tanks. Now, eight months before the November election, this patchy coalition seems unable to stop the Trump Train.
What are the key factors that spell victory for Trump despite the enormous effort of his opponents?
First of all, it is widely noted that incumbency is always an advantage for a president who seeks re-election. It may be explained by the gravitation of the voters without strong preferences — either partisan or personal — toward the president. U.S. history knows just a few examples when an incumbent president was defeated, and those exceptional cases were always associated with particular circumstances.
Most often, the defeat of an incumbent president is tied to a poor state of economy for which the society blames him as the leader of the country — the three defeated incumbents (Hoover, Carter, and Bush I) all had economy troubles. Another factor hindering re-election and, in general, negatively affecting the approval rating of any president may be the country’s involvement in long-lasting and resource-consuming wars, especially when coupled with the loss of American lives. Among other damaging factors are a formal or actual split of a president’s party, the dispersion of his constituency, or unpredicted emergence of a charismatic independent candidate on a political stage.
In Trump’s case, none of these factors applies. The U.S. economy is on the rise. The “blue-collar boom” that Trump mentioned in his SOTU address is a reality, and no matter how the Democrats try to present it only as a “continuous trend” that was established by the Obama administration, this argument is not just invalid, but also highly unconvincing for the voters. Despite the leftist predictions of economic fallout (and even Armageddon) as a result of Trump’s policies, the stock market indices are routinely breaking records — just like employment levels, consumer and business confidence, and job openings, among other achievements. Apparently, “that idiot” knew a thing or two about how to negotiate trade agreements and how the economy really works (unlike his leftist counterparts who root for socialism).
Then Trump did not start World War III, as anticipated by many, but fulfilled his promise not to get America into new military adventures abroad and avoided full-scale military operations against Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. Moreover, after stripping ISIS off all its territory in Syria and Iraq, he withdrew American troops from Syria — to the hysterical reaction of the presumably peace-loving leftists, who all of a sudden insisted on the U.S. military playing a bigger role in the region. Then there is Trump’s success in beheading ISIS’s leadership. Will it grow back? I doubt it.
Finally, Trump’s support among Republicans seems solid enough. No split is expected within the Republican Party, which got more unified during the impeachment process. That certainly cannot be said about the inconsistent ranks of the Democrats. The split vividly revealed itself back in 2016, when the Marxist wing represented by Bernie Sanders and focused on class issues was opposed by the Hillary Clinton urban liberals who cared much more about identity politics. The DNC’s rigged game against Sanders, whom numerous polls showed throughout the 2016 campaign outperforming Hillary in November, had naturally outraged his supporters, whom Hillary later blamed for her defeat (among other “traitors” and “enemies”). Today, the DNC, still controlled by the Clintonians, has not learned its lesson and continues to snub progressives and leftists. Just like four years ago, it’s improbable that Bernie will be allowed to win the nomination or get any concessions, like an invitation to be the veep or a member of the future Cabinet, or even the adoption of his signature and platform planks, which are way too extreme. That would be a deadly blow of Bernie’s hammer and sickle on the Democrats’ chances this November. On the other hand, if the DNC tries to make peace with him, the name of a renowned socialist on the ballot would scare the moderates away. It’s a lose-lose situation. Truly, Bernie is becoming a pain in the neck the Democrats currently have no remedy for.
At the same time, Trump’s opponents are having a truly hard time choosing among fairly weak candidates. Political heavyweight Joe Biden, considered a frontrunner just a month ago, is rapidly falling behind and running out of funds and stamina. The same is true for Elizabeth Warren. Pete Buttigieg, who’s enjoying the results of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, lacks a strong record of achievements even in South Bend, Ind. Also, he has problems attracting black Americans, whose voting-age population is near or above the national average of 12.5% in swing states Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania needed to defeat Trump.
For the Democrats, Trump 2.0 would mean the last nail in the coffin of their party in the form in which it exists today. Due to age-related reasons, these elections will be the last ones for Biden, Sanders, and Warren. It also means that the Democrats’ ideology, strategy, and tactics, as well as party organization, will require a serious reformation to adopt to the Trump era of strong economy and a more prosperous society that is uninterested in big government. They will need to reject childish finger-pointing and their victim mentality and replace these with an honest internal discussion on their issues and the ways to overcome them.
For America, Trump 2.0 will mean a further rise and, moreover, transformation — to the point where she will not be willing to settle for anything less in 2024.