Donald and the Dems
Despite Donald Trump’s low poll numbers he can still win if Democrats fail to nominate a candidate that can capture the public imagination. So far the present field does not inspire or impress. On the contrary they sound airy and predictable. Indeed even when they have a foray into what the uninitiated call “socialism” they manage to make that sound dull.
When it comes to foreign policy they resemble George W. Bush advisors on job leave. Kamala Harris when asked whether she wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan answered in the affirmative and added “in a responsible way”. That means in the next ten or twenty years. Pete Buttigieg preaches a hard line against Russia and China and generally wants to project American military power. With the sole exceptions of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders the Democratic field is not good on specifics.
Joe Biden, the most moderate candidate, seems like the Mr. Manners of politics blaming Trump for being uncouth and hence by extension un-presidential. If it had been the election of 2016 would not have been close and Hillary Clinton would be in the White House. With Uncle Joe the wagging fingers and a few more votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania should do the trick.
The only candidacy that resembles Biden’s was the boomlet for Hubert Humphrey in 1976. Liberals eager to stall Jimmy Carter led the chant “Run Hubert run” much like some exhort Biden. Public employees union lead the way and nostalgia supplies the fuel. Remember Humphrey never ran well in primaries and neither has Biden. Edmund Muskie, Humphrey’s running mate in 1968, tried to ride the center and was beaten in the 1972 race for the Democratic nomination.
Buttigieg who resembles Carter is trying to make the election a referendum on integrity – is very vague on issues. As a mayor of South Bend Indiana he is chiefly known for “Urban Renewal” or gentrification which is a code word for removing poor people. In many respects he is a social liberal, fiscal conservative who will probably manage to disappoint many voters.
Both Harris and Buttigieg are really George W. Bush Democrats. They will tack to the center in domestic affairs and swing to the right on foreign policy. They seem to object to Trump’s immigration policy – which is good and offer no real alternative to his international positions. Their greatest complaint is incapsulated by that most banal of catchwords in that Trump is “inappropriate” in his tweets.
The embrace by dissatisfied Republicans – and there are not many among them – is based on a personal revulsion against Trump. As well many want a hardline in foreign policy, for that they will rely on Democrats and if they get a bonus in the reduction in social services to balance the budget they will have a jubilee.
For those who would turn the Democrats into budget and foreign policy hawks I would advise them to not go to any great expense. This is not going to be an election easily influenced by sloganeering.
They will have to put forth a Democratic stance.
For Democrats, beginning with Adlai Stevenson, most of the nominees have tried to win through the educated middle classes. With Bill Clinton and Barack Obama the promises were less than forecast. Perhaps to use Phyllis Schafly’s phrase in context Democrats need a “Choice not an echo” in 2020.