Democrats are understandably excited about the upcoming presidential election. After last year’s midterm rebuke of President Trump and the Republicans, Democratic activists are champing at the bit for a rematch against President Trump, the almost inevitable Republican nominee. Nevertheless, Democratic voters need to carefully consider their primary choices to avoid a repeat of 2016.
There are a lot of former and current-but-dissatisfied Republican voters who would consider voting for a Democrathe t against President Trump. Mr. Trump’s behavior has always been a problem for many conservatives (as opposed to partisan Republicans). His recent attacks on the memory of John McCain, a decorated veteran who is not around to defend himself, and his expansion of presidential emergency powers are especially problematic for many of us.
The assessment from 2016 that Donald Trump was uniquely bad and dangerous for the American republic has been confirmed by the experience of the past two years. Despite promises to the contrary, Republicans have been either unwilling or unable to rein him in and hold him accountable for his excesses. That failure means that those of us concerned about where the country is headed under Trump must consider all available alternatives.
The warning that I must give to Democrats is that opposition to President Trump has not led us to embrace the Democratic platform or veer to the left. In fact, as I recently pointed out, the argument against Trump for conservatives isn’t just his bad behavior, it’s the fact that his policy is far to the left on many issues. If you want dissatisfied conservatives and Republicans to cross over and vote Democrat, you aren’t going to accomplish that with a Democratic socialist. The same is true of country at large which has historically been center-right. Recent polling shows that has not changed.
You may feel that Trump is so unpopular that you don’t need support from disaffected conservatives. That may be true in 2020 but it was a bad assumption in 2016. Without knowing what dirty tricks the Russians will pull (if any) to tip the scales or what skeletons lurk in the closets of political newcomers, are you really willing to take that chance?
Ideological conservatives are not going to vote for Democrats based on domestic policy, but they might consider voting for a Democrat who is moderate on domestic issues and who could stabilize US foreign policy and end the trade war.
The problem is that what has happened so far is that Democratic candidates are proposing such radical ideas that it is scaring conservatives who don’t like President Trump into voting for him in order to protect foundations of the American republic. Many of us don’t want Mr. Trump’s expansion of presidential powers, his trade war, or his isolationism, but we also don’t want to junk the Electoral College, eliminate private health insurance in favor of Medicaid-for-all, or pass slavery reparations, late-term abortions, or the Green New Deal.
What some Democrats fail to understand is the same thing that both the Obama and Trump Administrations failed to understand: Americans don’t drastic change and kicking out one party that abused its power is not a license for the other party to enact the wildest dreams of its base. The Trump Administration will likely be limited to one term because Republicans assumed that an Electoral College victory with a popular vote loss was a carte blanch to force their policies, both popular and unpopular, on the rest of the nation by any means necessary. That’s the sort of thing that tends to anger voters.
If Democrats want to beat President Trump then their best bet is to nominate a candidate who doesn’t scare moderate and conservative voters. At this point, Joe Biden seems to be the best and most likely candidate to deliver the message, “You’re fired,” from the voters. If Biden doesn’t run, the choice is tougher but Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke seem to be the best bets for a moderate nominee. Beto, however, seems intent on alienating more moderates every day.
The main goal of the Democrats should be to come across as less threatening and radical than President Trump. This should not be hard, but if it weren’t a problem I wouldn’t have to write this letter. Every day Democrats like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris are out there saying things that scare the bejeezus out of moderate voters. This is how you get Trump re-elected.
I’m not saying that I’ll vote Democrat if you nominate a moderate. I’m a conservative I disagree with even moderately liberal ideas, but that’s part of the reason that I don’t plan to vote for President Trump. Add in the president’s erratic personality and behavior unbecoming the commander-in-chief and I might be open to supporting the right Democrat for the good of the country. On the other hand, if the stakes are high enough with a radical leftist as the Democratic nominee, you might just push me to vote Trump.
Originally published on The Resurgent