There is now a lot of talk among analysts, the public, and the Democratic party about strategy. Winning the House, they say, gives them a platform — albeit one that can be misused — to make significant gains in 2020, and potentially win back the Presidency. I fear this is wishful thinking.
I say that not because of an absence of possibility, but rather an absence of the talent and personalities required to take advantage of the opportunity. The Democratic leadership has an average age of 78. That represents stagnation and a lack of innovation and new talent.
Let’s be honest, the only two new and exciting names are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes and Beto O’Rourke. The former is unelectable on a federal level: her views are too radical, too extreme. Beto might have a chance, but his political inexperience and failure to win what was admittedly a very tough Senate race demonstrate weaknesses.
Trump’s self-indulgent, narcissistic tweer with a quote about how brilliant he is may actually have a bit of truth behind it. He does seem to have a particular “magic”, if you will, to get voters out. I prefer to call it ability to stoke up racial tensions, but that’s past the point.
This all proves one thing: the Democrats face more than just a slight uphill battle. It is, for me, incredibly unlikely that they will retake the Senate and the Presidency, and hang onto the House, in 2020. And the biggest problem they face is the strategy of the past two years.
The motives for the block Trump, block Kavanaugh, block everything broad strategy is more than understandable. The Democrats weren’t in the wrong: this was a reaction to the GOP polarising politics, but they were wrong in the sense that the strategy is utterly useless.
The idea that Trump and the Republicans can be “blocked” without repercussion was misguided from the start. These are some of the most cunning politicians on the planet; they will frame you for their own failings and win.
If the Democrats press ahead with the heavy-handed investigation of Trump, they will lose badly in 2020. If they choose to cooperate, the policies they get through will be blamed by Trump for any signs of a worsening economy or higher crime rate.
By reacting to the Republicans’ madness and polarisation in such a way, which seems justified, they have given themselves a much lower chance of electoral success. When that happens in a democracy, one must question the rigour of that country’s democracy and institutions.
This is democratic backsliding at its worst.
Trump coming out after the midterms and threatening the Democrats and attacking poor Jim Acosta for no reason whatsoever only reinforces the re-emergence of the trend of democratic backsliding. Essentially — nothing’s getting better any time soon.
The sorry state of American politics favours the GOP. On a basic level, they are the ones in government, and so a weakened democracy suits them due to a lack of opposition.
More sinisterly, though, this is a much-changed Republican party. No longer does it reside in the centre-ground. Gone are the days of John McCain, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and the moderates. This is a GOP sliding towards fascism: receding off the true political spectrum and into unknown territory for the US.
The Democrats might be able to retake the Senate and the Presidency in 2020. But this will require a lot of luck. If these final two years of Trump’s first term see the economy falter, then maybe there is a way back in. Whilst it doesn’t, however, the situation will only grow more hostile for the Democrats.