As the 2020 election becomes less of a mystical happening hearkened to by wishful liberals eagerly awaiting the demise of the Trump presidency, and begins to take real shape, Democrats must begin to develop a cogent, pragmatic approach to dethrone President Trump, take control of the Senate, and build on their existing majority in the House of Representatives.
The first step on this path is and should be self-evident. Whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being will be facing off against the most vulgar, obtuse, and offensive incumbent in recent political memory.
While some may argue that addressing these qualities in the President reduces the height of the candidate’s inevitable moral high ground, doing so will, in fact, do the opposite. Despite the extreme dualism of the current American political climate, the moderate population remains robust (as evidenced by Joe Biden’s continued lead in primary polls).
These moderates – many of whom voted for Barack Obama in 2016 and President Trump in 2020 – may be drawn to the president’s fiscal policies, but given the extent of his infractions, won’t be able to align themselves with his questionable sense of morality.
Additionally, this strategy forces Republican pundits to defend the President’s actions rather than focusing on substantive policy ideas. Ideas that may very well end up deciding the election.
Along this same theme, Democrats must focus on substantive policy issues rather than getting bogged down in Trumpian name calling, bullying, passive aggression. First of all, they won’t win. Trump is a master of ad hominem attacks and appears to be invulnerable to any sort of political retribution as a result.
Therefore, taking the bait will not only allow the Trump campaign to justify his behavior with the platitudinous quibble that “both sides are doing it,” but it will additionally alienate undecided voters who may not approve of Trump’s Twitter antics.
In conjunction with this policy focus, a potential Democratic nominee must appear on conservative media such as Fox News, and on non-mainstream media outlets.
Much of Trump’s base watches exclusively Fox News, meaning they are only exposed to the singular ideology Fox espouses. If a candidate approached them, offering an alternative to what may be the only option ever presented to them, they may just find Trump’s agenda isn’t as enchanting as they may have thought.
As the last election proved, Democrats can’t win by continuing to capitalize on the same base of voters they have relied upon for the past 70 years.
In order to win elections in the modern political climate, they must persuade traditionally Independent and Republican voters that their values and agenda represent a stark contrast to the continued chaos of a Trump presidency.
And finally, in conclusion, Democrats must – for at least this election cycle – avoid the word “socialism” like the plague. While the phrase “Democratic Socialism” has gained significant traction in terms of public opinion recently thanks to the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the term still carries heavy Cold War stigmatization thanks to a relentless stream of conservative propaganda.
No matter how popular socialist ideas may be amongst young voters, the Democratic Party must recognize that their only hope of defeating President Trump in 2020 lies with the moderates and the undecideds.
And while this may very well be the last election in American history in which that is the case, it must be recognized now, or else Democrats can already start looking forward to 2024.