With a few candidates having entered the 2020 Democratic contest for president and several more on the brink, it will be worth watching which, if any candidates, will have something affirmative and original to say versus those who will just follow a rote script, reciting talking points meant to placate the fashionable leftist activists. Part of the answer will come from what Democrats think it will take to win the party’s nomination and whether they believe President Trump will be easy to beat in the 2020 general election.
In recent years, presidential primaries have resembled a horse race with multiple candidates trying to carve out and occupy a certain “lane” for themselves within the party. But in 2020, Democrats will have too many racers on the track, resembling the chariot race from “Ben-Hur.”
If Trump turns out to have a low ceiling and can’t approach 50 percent, how far left the primaries take his opponent may not matter. But if the possibility of a close race remains, Democrats will have to be mindful of how enthusiastically they adopt a new left agenda that could alienate voters who are otherwise turned off by the president’s behavior. However, to be viable as a presidential contender in today’s Democratic Party means it is essential to properly check certain boxes — no exception will be tolerated.
How far left a candidate moves and, therefore, how difficult it will be to return to the center in the general election will be determined by a few issues. The easier agenda items for Democrats involve signing onto the latest round of giveaways — free college tuition, free health care, etc. Add to that, opposition to anything that inhibits illegal immigration and pledging to do for the nation what they’ve done for Baltimore by adopting Black Lives Matter’s policies.
Next, impeachment. While many Democrats in Washington will continue to see the limits and downsides of an impeachment fight, Democrats on the campaign trail will hear the call for Trump to be impeached. It will be easier in 2020 to be a Democrat who supports impeachment than one who is trying to explain why they do not.
Then there is the embrace of green socialism, also known as socialism. While Trump may have his deplorables, there is nothing like the liberal insufferables rallying behind the green socialist movement. They are the left’s condescending “experts,” the smug elites whom a Hillary Clinton presidency would have empowered, fully knowing their dictates could never pass a vote in Congress.
On foreign policy, most of the Democrat candidates are amateurs even more so than candidate Trump was in 2016. They really have nothing to say except to maybe pander to the anti-Israel movement. They will be fearful of the radical left’s vengeance if they don’t. They may claim to care about restoring America’s traditional alliances, etc. But let’s face it, during the Obama presidency, Democrats thought foreign policy was all about the Paris climate accord, a giveaway to Iran and helping Castro’s Cuba. And today, there is no indication that they have a fresh thinker for 2020.
Finally, Democrats running for president will have to be comfortable with unleashing the politically correct thought police. And the PC police want to become the real police. At the University of Illinois, for instance, students are being encouraged by the campus police to report “acts of intolerance” to the school’s Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART). (I can’t wait to see a BART member’s uniform. Are BART members armed?) Anyway, as Illini Republicans President Jack Johnson has noted, “BART is a politicized tool mainly utilized by upset leftists in a childish last-ditch attempt to press those they find politically unsavory.” Rather than engage in debate, liberals would prefer to shut down conversation altogether under the banner of preventing “offensive” language from entering the public space.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was onto something when she released an ad last year saying she is “not one of those crazy Democrats.” She sensed that the Democrats’ lurch to the left was becoming untenable, but it was too little too late. She had been cozy with the crazies for too long. She could not come back to the center. She lost reelection by six percentage points.
But maybe it won’t matter. Maybe Trump has done so much to alienate voters that anyone could beat him in 2020. And yet, in an era where the Democrats find themselves with plenty of candidates but no particular foreign policy and an economic message that promises to snuff out the current wave of prosperity, it is easy to see how the Democrats could produce a nominee who is frightening to those in the center of American politics. This is exactly what Trump wants and needs. If the Democrats follow their emotions and get swept up and allow themselves to become committed to a crackpot agenda, the choice may be between the lesser of the two crackpots. And that is a race President Trump could win.