Democrats are flail­ing and time is run­ning out

The Korea Times - - OPINION - By Ann McFeat­ters Ann McFeat­ters (am­cfeat­[email protected]­tion­al­ is an op-ed colum­nist for Tri­bune News Ser­vice. Her com­men­tary was dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency, LLC.

WASHNGTON — One year be­fore we elect the next pres­i­dent, more than half — 56 per­cent — of Amer­i­cans say they think Don­ald Trump is likely to be re-elected.

Even though im­peach­ment of Trump by the House will hap­pen, the Re­pub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate al­most cer­tainly will not vote to re­move him from of­fice, leav­ing Trump to in­sist he has been vin­di­cated and able to seek a sec­ond term. He has a war chest of about $158 mil­lion, and it is grow­ing. And he will claim the econ­omy is in great shape.

Even though about 49 per­cent of Amer­i­cans (it goes up and down a few points) say they would like to see Trump re­moved from of­fice, so far Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates have failed to garner a lot of ex­cite­ment among in­de­pen­dent vot­ers.

In re­cent polling, one year be­fore the vote, Joe Bi­den leads Trump in po­ten­tial pop­u­lar votes. But, as we have found out twice since 2000, the win­ner of the pop­u­lar vote does not win the White House if he/she does not win enough elec­toral votes. Bi­den ver­sus Trump in key states such as Michi­gan, Ne­vada, Penn­syl­va­nia, Florida, Ari­zona and North Carolina is a 50-50 propo­si­tion. (Note that Ohio is no longer con­sid­ered a swing state; it is solidly red.)

The bot­tom line of polling data at this snap­shot mo­ment in time shows that if the Bi­den and Trump were run­ning against each other, the fi­nal out­come in elec­toral votes would be too close to call.

If El­iz­a­beth War­ren is pit­ted against Trump at this point in time, she loses. If Bernie San­ders is pit­ted against Trump right now, San­ders loses. Their ideas are deemed too big and out of reach.

Democrats have not yet de­cided how to cam­paign against Trump. They could move to the cen­ter, where more swing vot­ers don’t like Trump and are will­ing to con­sider get­ting rid of Trump. But that is not where War­ren is, with her $20.5 tril­lion “Medi­care for All” plan, which could not pos­si­bly get through a Re­pub­li­can-con­trolled Se­nate. That is not where San­ders is with his free col­lege for all pledge, etc.

Democrats could go all out to en­tice young vot­ers and lib­er­als who voted for San­ders in 2016, voted for Jill Stein or who didn’t vote at all. This would in­volve mak­ing many im­pos­si­ble-to-keep, un­af­ford­able prom­ises of big-gov­ern­ment so­lu­tions to such thorny so­cial is­sues as poverty, lack of ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tion, racism, opi­oid ad­dic­tion, far too costly but of­ten in­ef­fec­tive health care, and lack of wage growth.

Democrats could beat the drums against Trump’s scorn for ethics and nar­cis­sis­tic ap­proach to gov­ern­ment, call­ing out the ram­pant cor­rup­tion he and his fam­ily have in­tro­duced to Wash­ing­ton (al­ready a very cor­rupt place).

Democrats could high­light im­peach­ment, the ob­vi­ously il­le­gal bribery/ ex­tor­tion at­tempts he made in with­hold­ing a con­gres­sion­ally ap­proved $400 mil­lion aid pack­age to Ukraine in a failed ex­change for a bo­gus in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­signed to smear Bi­den.

Democrats could con­cen­trate on how Trump has spent more than $1.5 tril­lion to help the wealthy, failed to help the mid­dle class, re­fused to hike the min­i­mum wage, gut­ted Oba­macare, re­fused to ac­cept cli­mate change sci­ence, alien­ated and aban­doned our al­lies, made the air and wa­ter dirt­ier, made re­pro­duc­tive rights more dif­fi­cult for women to keep, sul­lied our na­tional ef­forts for civil and in­di­vid­ual rights, gave away na­tional crown jew­els to drillers, ap­pointed judges who think like he does. The list is long.

Democrats could em­pha­size that gov­ern­ment is work­ing for the elite, not for all.

If Trump wins re-elec­tion, Democrats

have one hope of fore­stalling his ef­forts to make the U.S. more au­thor­i­tar­ian. Al­most cer­tainly keep­ing con­trol of the House, they might also take con­trol of the Se­nate. The re­cent Novem­ber state elec­tions showed that there is great dis­quiet in the land. The Se­nate is get­ting closer to Demo­cratic reach, but such a goal is too far yet from the realm of prob­a­bil­ity.

Even though tak­ing the Se­nate would be a stun­ning win for Democrats, los­ing the White House most likely would guar­an­tee an­other par­ti­san im­peach­ment-re­moval ef­fort and an­other four-year round of ac­ri­mo­nious de­bate be­tween an even fur­ther un­leashed Twit­ter Trump and civil so­ci­ety.

In the scope of hu­man his­tory, democ­racy is still a foundling. If democ­racy were a hu­man, in the Trump era we could con­clude it has been fail­ing to thrive. But Democrats are flail­ing, and al­though a year may seem a long way away, time is run­ning out.

If there is good news for Democrats it is that while 56 per­cent of likely vot­ers think Trump prob­a­bly will be re­elected, 55 per­cent do not want him re­elected.

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