Senate Minority LeaderCharles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) did this on Tuesday in a written statement. “The Trump administration’s plan to divert money away from FEMA at the start of hurricane season to continue its efforts to separate and jail migrant families is backward and cruel,” he said. “Taking these critical funds from disaster preparedness and recovery efforts threatens lives and weakens the government’s ability to help Americans in the wake of natural disasters. Congress appropriated these funds to meet the American peoples’ priorities and I strongly oppose this effort to undermine our constitutional authority.” Schumer is laying down a marker: If the response to hurricanes is lacking, we should know who to hold accountable.
Indeed, Trump’s obsessions, delusions and irrationality put Americans at risk in many ways. He’s not devoting resources to fight white nationalist terrorism. He’s not addressing climate change, which produces more extreme weather with each passing year. He’s not willing to take on the National Rifle Association, so gun violence goes unaddressed. He refuses to acknowledge his trade war is inflicting pain on consumers, farmers and businesses, so we are at greater risk of recession. He’s playing Putin’s PR man at the Group of Seven when he should be protecting our election system against interference.
Democratic candidates may think general election voters aren’t paying attention or that voters want to hear fine distinctions between Medicare-for-all and the public option. In fact, now would be a good time to capture their attention as more Americans are focused on just how aberrant his conduct is. If candidates want to position themselves as the most electable, they might consider showing us on a regular basis how they are going to shred him in a general election.
The excuse you hear from political insiders and pundits is that candidates don’t always want to be responding to Trump. Really?!? The entire election will be a referendum on Trump, as reelection campaigns invariably are. Now is the time to fix in voters’ minds the impression that Democrats are the stable, serious, reliable ones.
A benefit of greater focus on Trump will likely be, as it was early in the race for former vice president Joe Biden, success in getting under his skin, provoking even more angry outbursts and, as an added bonus, thereby elevating whoever is launching the attacks.
Another reason for largely ignoring Trump may be that all the candidates agree he is a horror, so there’s no way to differentiate oneself from the crowd. That’s obviously wrong when so few candidates are even mentioning him. A candidate will distinguish herself by being the one to hammer him on a fairly regular basis.
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) has talked about “prosecuting the case” against Trump. Well, the evidence is piling up, and now would be a good time for a preliminary hearing, if you will. At the very least, she wants to influence the jury pool, which in this case is the electorate. Instead of promising to indict Trump, some previews of how she’d do it would, I have a hunch, remind voters of her unique skill set.