2020 is just around the corner and has the potential to bring with it the most absurd, unconventional and dangerous presidential campaigning the United States has ever seen.
It is no secret Donald Trump will stoop to incredible lows to put himself in a position in which he can claim victory. We have seen him circumnavigate checks and balances by declaring a national emergency in regard to border security.
We have seen his brash, violent rhetoric lead to terrorism directed toward his enemies. We have seen a shift in our media climate in response to his blatant attacks on outlets he disagrees with, regularly calling them the “enemy of the people” and “fake news.” We have seen a 226 percent increase in hate crimes in areas where Trump has held rallies.
We have seen the federal debt, which he promised to decrease, grow by $2 trillion since his time in office. We are also aware that we need to take immediate action for the safety of our planet as climate change imposes increasingly brutal consequences — consequences Trump and his administration seem to have no problem perpetuating for the sake of personal gain.
These factors do not even consider Trump’s personal ties to financial fraud and averse nations.
There are a million reasons Trump should not be reelected, and perhaps for Trump supporters, there are a million reasons he should be. Nonetheless, it is apparent that the stakes of the 2020 presidential election are higher than ever and could be treated as life-or-death.
If anything was learned from the 2016 election, left-leaning voters and politicians should not underestimate Trumpian tactics of winning. As ridiculous as it is to consider him a valid candidate, not doing so can ensure a democratic loss — but who is the champion who might defeat the draconian leader and restore peace to the land?
In 2016, the Democratic National Committee shot themselves in the foot by deriding Bernie Sanders’s campaign in favor of deeply unpopular Hillary Clinton. Many Trump supporters did not vote “for” Trump as much as they voted “against” Clinton in this case, and as many as 12 percent of Trump voters in 2016 conceded they would have voted for Sanders instead of Trump if given the option, but not vote for Clinton.
Today, we see many democratic contenders who fit into Sanders paradigm of democratic socialism: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke and Sanders himself all declared candidacy and all support some variation of environmental restoration, living wages, universal healthcare and cannabis decriminalization or legalization.
There are also relatively moderate candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden, who is likely to be a frontrunner with several prominent endorsements, despite coming under fire for inappropriately touching women.
It is, frankly, too early to guess who the democratic contender will be to face off with Trump, but it is never to early to consider what this contender might look like.
One National Review article asserts that the democratic party’s rhetoric might assure them a loss in 2020. The Green New Deal, a proposed stimulant package to address climate change and economic inequality, would also greatly increase the federal deficit, which could prove to be unpopular after it is debated in a congressional context. Furthermore, some radical ideas, such as those aimed at dismantling the electoral college, are based in sound logic but are thought to be nearly impossible to achieve right now, and therefore might translate as empty promises to voters.
What does the ideal democratic candidate look like? A politician with lots of charisma and a somewhat radical plan for reform can perhaps hold their own against Trump in a debate, but getting the majority of the public on board is another issue. On the contrary, a moderate, “safe” candidate will likely guarantee a democratic loss, as they will likely not have the fiery passion to spit back at Trump and voters. Running on a platform of “Trump is mean” is also, unfortunately, inadequate and might make the democratic party look like pitiful, sore losers as opposed to strong contenders.
Don’t underestimate the rhetorical power of Trump on the campaign trail. It is imperative that democrats formulate a plan that does not assume voters will automatically side with them just because Trump’s presidency is disastrous as it stands. Currently, there are few impressive candidates and the best ones have good ideas with little rationale to combat Trump’s baseless, but nonetheless influential, rhetoric.
We clearly need more from our democratic candidates, but it is unclear what exactly “more” might look like. We are living in an unprecedented political climate and must keep our wits about us to navigate it as we head into the battle of 2020.