State of the Union and Dem 2020
I am trying to make heads or tails out of the early Democrat 2020 effort. It is not easy, but there are implications for the GOP response.
First, there has to be a strong belief by Democrats that Trump is toast and can be beaten. After all, the latest count of Democrat entrants is approaching 837. Hope springs eternal. Or maybe they all realize that 836 of them will lose the nomination, but it doesn’t matter. They are all setting themselves up for something else, and losing seems to be a résumé enhancer. Just look at the man from Texas who has achieved serious contender status on the strength of losing to Ted Cruz.
The conventional GOP wisdom seems to be to step aside, allow Democrats to race to the left, and wait for the electorate to wake up to the fact that socialism doesn’t work. And I’m not just talking about the presidential race. I’m talking about the down-ticket ones as well. In spite of far-left Democrat positions on everything, it would be folly for the GOP to put its chips on Democrats becoming so radical that a supposedly center-right country will eventually come to its senses. Nor can the GOP wager that the traditional Democrat demographics will stay home on election day like they always do.
The genius of Donald Trump is that he realizes this conventional wisdom is folly and took a major step toward defining his agenda and appealing to whatever moderate Democrats still exist in a brilliant State of the Union Address. He also cut quite the presidential figure.
It took Ronald Reagan years to formulate and communicate a coherent conservative platform, and it is not too early for the current GOP crop to begin to do the same. There are ways to craft even the key issues Democrats are trying to capture by contrasting them in conservative terms and designing rational solutions that will appeal to the target demographics that handed Democrats the House in 2018. To be sure, the Democrat race to the far left will provide fodder for contrasting philosophies, and the inevitable Democrat circular firing squad will weaken whomever emerges. But the GOP cannot afford to sit back.
Nothing is absolute, and there are times to pause while the enemy is destroying itself. But the prevailing strategy must be to provide positive alternatives, not just negative comparisons. Trump did both in the State of the Union. Case in point on staying mum is the current Democrat fiasco in Virginia. Have you ever seen any worse PR? First, it would be fascinating to find out the source of the yearbook photo and why it never surfaced in the campaign when now-Gov. Ralph Northam was blasting his opponent as a racist. The GOP opposition-research team should give its fees back.
The timing was curious and may give a clue. The photo appeared right after the governor had gone on radio to describe and support what seemed to be infanticide. Democrats may think that border walls and billionaires are “immoral,” but they cheered the new Virginia and New York laws, which may have been a bridge too far for the vast majority of reasonable voters, including significant Democrat majorities.
The governor let the cat out of the bag — a huge Democrat no-no. It could also be that the governor committed heresy by describing the newborn child in question as an “infant,” which Webster’s defines as a “small child.” In other words, a real live human. This is another Democrat no-no if they are trying to justify abortion at any time, as the laws do. The odds are that someone in the Democrat hierarchy is the leaker-in-chief.
So maybe the photo was the excuse for the Democrat long knives to come out demanding Northam’s resignation, which as of now he has refused to do. He initially apologized for having his picture taken in a KKK hood and claimed that what he did when he was young “does not reflect on the person he is today.” (That doesn’t work when you are a conservative Supreme Court nominee, but maybe he thought the hypocritical media and Democrat Party would give him a pass). Then he denied it was him. But how it wound up in his yearbook section remains a mystery.
As this is being written, the latest is that the guy who would replace Northam is now being accused of a sexual assault from 15 years ago during a Democrat convention. He denies it and the media seems to want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I thought the woman was always right.
The next guy in line in Virginia is also now admitting that he went to a party in college in blackface, which according to what seems like Democrat gospel disqualifies him too. The only problem with that is the one in line after him is a Republican. Politics meets principle. It will be fascinating to see how this turns out. It’s also very illuminating about the Democrat 2020 platform.
But back to the GOP/State of the Union. Let’s take a couple issues where the Democrat donor base seems to be demanding purity. Universal single-payer health care is one of the litmus tests. It is being touted as a “basic human right” and the best way to get rid of all those pesky details that private insurance burdens us all with. Instead of dealing with this head-on philosophically, the GOP reply has focused on the belief that we “can’t afford it.”
I cringe every time I hear that because it can’t be proven (and neither can the rationale that single-payer health care would lead to rationed care and death panels), and there is a risk that certain demographics (maybe enough to swing an election) won’t care. Trump framed the issue as the need to provide access for all to health care, preexisting-condition coverage, and affordable drugs — all appealing to the moderate Democrat wing and contrasting with a government-controlled approach.
The GOP should do more of the same and take the basics head-on. Health care is a privilege, not a right, and people need to take personal responsibility for their own care. If they are simply unable to pay for basic care, then we can find a way for the government to subsidize their ability to buy insurance in the private sector. There should be government pools to deal with the preexisting condition issue that caused so many suburban residents to vote for Democrats in 2018. Since health care should not be the direct responsibility of the government, eventually it would be good to wean the country off of Medicare. But that’s probably a bridge too far for 2020.
Trump also dealt head-on with the race to the extreme left by the Democrats by characterizing it as socialism and focusing on personal freedom and opportunity as the guiding principles for the country as opposed to trying to point to Venezuela and convince Millennials, who have come to distrust capitalism and become addicted to free stuff, that that’s where we’re headed. Combine that with the continued touting of a roaring economy that is giving all Americans, especially women and minorities, opportunity to pursue their dreams and you have a philosophically based platform that will cause Democrats to veer further left. Hopefully that will get the GOP positive support for a freedom agenda and also provide direct evidence that the Democrat hierarchy wants to go so radical that Venezuela looks mild.
Trump also very cleverly used the radical Democrat support for an extreme social issue — namely, late-term abortion or even infanticide — to paint Democrats as woefully out of touch with vast majorities of Americans and totally in the pocket of their radical abortion-on-demand donor base. He did that by proposing that Congress come up with a law against “late term” abortion.
By subtly equating this with the infanticide position of Gov. Northam, and knowing that the Democrats in the State of the Union audience would sit on their hands, he branded all Democrats as being in sync with Northam’s position. Democrats have tried to spin their position as applying only to newborns who have no chance of surviving, and dependent on the impact on the mother’s health, but that’s not what the laws say. And there were no such qualifiers in the governor’s, and by extension all Democrats’, position.
Finally, Trump appealed to Democrats to stop the mindless resistance and work together to solve problems — exactly what the majority of moderate Democrats want to hear. That olive branch was met with a doubling down of intent to investigate all things Trump from the Democrat-controlled Congress, playing right into Trump’s hands. The Democrat 2020 field is having a very hard time differentiating from each other, but the only constant seems to be hatred of Trump and continuing resistance. It tells you all you need to know about who is driving the Democrat train — the extreme-left donor base that Democrat wannabes can’t afford to cross.
The State of the Union was the perfect vehicle for setting the 2020 stage, both as a positive statement on what is going right with the country — economics, foreign policy, commitment to widely held social norms, affirmation of freedom, and border security— and as a recognition of radical Democrat positions, including socialism. Trump has set the tone. The rest of the GOP needs to jump on board.