Analyzing the Democratic debates

Published 5:57 pm Thursday, August 8, 2019

Finally, along comes something that prompts more unease than President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.

Tragically, it’s the Democratic debates. Like a masterfully directed horror film, the debates had us watching through the fingers of the hands over our eyes. Trump’s would-be challengers left all but the more liberal among us needing a spiked glass of Sen. Corey Booker’s Kool-Aid.

More soberingly, the show left us dreading a trip to the polls in November 2020.

President Trump has tipped his 2020 strategy: Demonize everyone who doesn’t look or think like he does to drive turnout of voters fearful of or disenfranchised with diverse, representative government.

The approach is similar to what he employed in 2016, except this time, instead of focusing his vitriol mainly on Mexicans and others from beyond our borders, he’s made his fellow citizens the villains.

That the backlash against his “go back where they came from” comments — many actually defended and echoed the sentiments — only encourages such behavior. Hence, his “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess” diatribe about a congressional district represented by Democrat Elijah Cummings.

What Democrats are missing, at least to this point, is that Trump found favor with the “hold-your-nose-and-vote” crowd in 2016. According to exit polls, nearly 20 percent of voters had an unfavorable view of both Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton. That equates to nearly 26 million votes, with Trump ultimately receiving 12 million of those compared to fewer than 8 million for Clinton.

If the economy remains vibrant enough and the Democratic nominee unpalatable enough, Trump could claim that block again. Demonizing corporations and private business won’t endear the Democrats to the moderates squeamish about Trump. Neither will pushing for broader and new entitlement programs, such as Medicare and college for all, or calling for open borders.

Disturbingly, most of the Democrats with good traction are stumping on these beliefs and nudging the debate further and further to the left.

What the Democratic campaign is proving thus far is Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Trump’s harsh, unbending policy approach and pandering to the paranoid on the right is drawing a lets-be-everything-to-everybody progressive response. 

But this is about governing, not physics, and the Democrats court losing with their hard left turn. The old assumption that even an ideologue will move toward the middle once in office no longer holds. Just as Trump has been driven to deliver on his more polarizing campaign promises, so too would a Democrat if elected.

— The Savannah Morning News