Lastly, Trump has focused the party on identity politics, but not the traditional identity politics like those of pro-women or pro-LGBT politics, for example. Rather, he has conned his base into believing that Republicans are the only people that are pro-Israel, anti-terrorism, and pro-USA. He has pandered to ultra-conservative groups attempting to identify himself as a Christian leader and the party as the only party for Christian people. And he has done all of this with very little attention paid to actual policy, but quite a bit of attention paid to rhetoric and catchphrases that are easily tweeted, put on bumper stickers, and chanted at rallies.
What consequences do those changes have in the run up to the Presidential elections?
The biggest consequence of the changes is that the Republican party base and platform have moved so far to the right that there is a huge contingent of moderate voters who maybe held their noses and voted for Trump in 2016 or didn’t vote for him at all that have found the Republican Party completely out of line with their politics. These voters will need a home, and, in a two party system, it is up to the Democrats to be able to provide that home for them.
The Democrats have a number of impressive candidates in the primaries. Many of them have exhaustive, well-thought out, well-reasoned platforms that only further their qualification to be president. But the biggest concern is that too many in Democratic leadership and too many of the Democratic candidates are more focused on their idealistic policies and are not sufficiently focused on nominating a candidate that can beat Trump.
Unfortunately, the Democrats are having the same issue as the Republicans, with the progressive wing pulling the party further and further to the left, leaving lots of open space right in the middle. And the nature of political primaries is such that they tend to pull folks to the extremes only to have them move back towards the middle in the general. So far, the Democratic primaries have focused on the candidates’ policy proposals and records during their time in office far more than they have focused on how they plan on beating Trump, and we expect it to stay that way until we get closer to the general election. But then, if Democrats are to be successful, they must turn their attention to coming together, healing any divides from the primaries, and creating a comprehensive strategy for winning those moderate voters who have lost their political home and, ultimately, beating Trump.
If the election were today, Trump would certainly win a second term, regardless of who his opponent would be. The economy is doing well, his polling is surprisingly high, and the Republican Party has been putting up record-breaking fundraising numbers. But again, there is a political eternity between now and next November. If the Democrats can stop fighting amongst themselves, focus on the battle against Trump, and move to the center just enough to sweep up moderate voters from both sides, they do have a shot. And if the Democrats do win in 2020, we should not expect Trump to leave the White House without a fight. Even if he does not challenge the results of the election, he will likely use those three months between the election and the inauguration to make sure his "legacy" remains, and he will do so by executive order and any means possible.
Copyright : Nicholas Kamm / AFP