Democrats have a dilemma — determine the best candidate to lead the country or search for the best candidate to beat Donald Trump. The Dems acknowledge their Party has drifted to the left, proposing progressive legislation that will more equitably distribute wealth, more assuredly meet all citizens’ health needs, and prevent crises of climate change and nuclear conflagration. Proposed programs are tinged with a Socialist label that alienates many voters in a nation in which the word Socialism is anathema. Former President Barack Obama has advised — nominating one of the more leftist candidates poses a risk to defeating Trump.
Republicans also have a dilemma – should they discard their values and need for genuine Republican leadership to support the self-serving present President of the United States (POTUS), who they believe is their preferred candidate to win the next election?
The dilemmas faced by both political Parties may be exaggerated — self-promoter Trump, cannot win; most any Democrat can beat him, and other Republicans have more potential to win the coveted seat as POTUS.
Why is Trump a sure loser?
Ignore the impeachment inquiry and examine the characteristics and accomplishments that form voters decisions — Trump comes up far from obtaining a majority. Those who believe Trump’s rhetoric that he and his erratic economic policies are responsible for the “greatest economy ever known to mankind,” the more extreme of the Evangelists, White Supremacists, the “Better dead than Red” contingent, those who enjoy the demeaning and degradation of others, and well-meaning citizens who find that certain Trump policies resonate with their convictions — bringing troops home, stopping regime change wars, making friends with enemies, anti-global, and anti-democratic establishment — are Trump’s principal supporters. Only those who are in the category of Trump’s statement, “I could stand In the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” will remain supporters when his erratic behavior, his exaggerations of economic progress, his foreign policy lapses and constant contradictions, his failure to confront vital issues such as climate change, and his management style of Trump first and America last, are exposed during the campaign and in debates. It is impossible that more than 50 percent (make it 35 percent) of the American electorate can be sufficiently devoid of intelligence, compassion for humanity, awareness of disorder, and belief in truth, and allow themselves to support someone who has maligned the dignity of the presidential office, made America the pariah of the world, and endangered their lives by his inept actions.
A Decenber 14 Fox News poll has 50 percent of the voting public favoring Trump’s impeachment and removal from executive office – anyone but Trump. Just get another few percent and almost any Democrat can win the election. Recall that Trump’s previous election victory resulted from “squeakers” in several key states. It is doubtful he has gained votes and more likely that he has lost many votes from the curious who now know the real Trump. The Democrats will examine Donald Trump and his presidency and highlight the failures.
Former President George W, Bush admitted that his ego-tripping landing on USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 for his “end to major combat operations in Iraq” speech harmed his image. Is not the myriad of self-serving and egotistical expressions from the lips of Donald Trump magnitudes more damaging to his persona? Can a nation’s citizens tolerate someone that has characteristics of childlike, meanness, vindictiveness, egomania, mendacity, disloyalty, confusion, contradiction, sparse knowledge, prone to manic-depressive behavior, not acting presidential, expressing admiration for warriors and never for peaceniks, and regarding money as everything and the only thing? Only an immoral majority could vote for a person who has that many faults and that majority does not exist.
Trump’s attempts to take credit for a successful economy is easily contradicted by noting that he has followed Barack Obama administration policies of high budget deficits, and that is the Federal Reserve policies of low interest rates that have provided the economic stimulus, and not him. Obama administration polices occurred as appropriate measures for an economy ravished by a huge recession. Trump’s similar policies are only exaggerating an already mildly prosperous economy, and the “easy” and plentiful money serves to raise asset values, especially in the stock market. Lowering income taxes increased budget deficits and lowering the corporate tax rate increased profits and not investment. Raising defense spending and increasing armament sales, which provoke an arms race and conflagrations, are other schemes that Trump has used to move the economy.
Lots of tweets and bluster but no accomplishments. Russia advances its agenda; North Korea increases it nuclear and ballistic capabilities; the Israel/Palestine conflict worsens; Iranian people are made to suffer from sanctions, while, the regime, after halting development of nuclear weapons, now accelerates developments and generates trouble in the middle East. The fear of nuclear war and return to a Cold War have become more ominous during the Trump administration
Issues not confronted
Climate change, immigration, racism, problems in plastic waste, fossil fuel consumption, gun control, and response to mass shootings are a few of the many significant issues in which the Trump administration has either done nothing to resolve or has been inept in trying to resolve.
It is unlikely that an impeached Trump will be removed from office. The Democrats may not have advanced their position with an awkward and one-sided impeachment process, but, if the public carefully examines the evidence for impeachment, Trump will lose their votes. The essential reason is in Trump’s own response to the impeachment inquiry charge that he asked Ukranian President, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky, for a favor, which was to investigate links of Joe Biden to corruption. President trump said, “When I said, in my phone call to the President of Ukraine, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” With the word “us” I am referring to the United States, our Country.”
Sounds innocent, but regard the direction of the statement. Having Ukraine investigate corruption does Ukraine a favor and not the United States. If Trump said, “I would like you to do yourself a favor,” his intent would have been less debatable. He also must answer a few whys — if the request was not meant to assist him, why was it necessary for him to personally enter in a phone call and make this request when the usual diplomatic channels could have made the same request, and why was military assistance to Ukraine shelved until the impeachment word was used
On what basis can a majority of the public vote for incumbent President Donald Trump?
Three Democratic candidates can decisively beat Trump. Surprisingly, the top three have not generated much support from Democratic Party faithful.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Democrat contender who can most demolish Trump, has been given little chance of obtaining the nomination. As a long time and active senator, with wide appeal in the political spectrum, she has recognized credentials for a capable POTUS. Due to her moderate views and ardent support for Israel, the senator is not popular in the present primary environment. If she gains the nomination, she may lose some votes from the more radical wing of the Democratic Party, but she will not lose them to Trump, and she will gain many centrist votes.
Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York (NYC), has appeal as a countervail to Trump’s business posture. Bloomberg combines more acumen, more conciliatory nature, and better grasp of domestic issues with more preferred personal characteristics. Evidently, the Obama message provoked his late entrance to the race – if beating Trump is top priority then a more moderate and wealthy Democrat with good name recognition is the person for the task. Bloomberg’s qualifications predict a substantial margin of victory, which will be slightly limited by a rebuff from those who feel he is part of the one percent money class, is using his financial advantage and communications empire to capture the presidency, has too much of his own investments tied up in natural gas, and that being a former mayor of NYC is not conducive to leading a nation.
Tom Steyer falls into a similar category as Michael Bloomberg, but lacks name recognition and public administrative experience. In an era in which politicians are suspect, Steyer can overcome his inexperience in public office by totaling his experience in political activism — 20 years of fighting for ballot measures, progressive legislation, and support of progressive Democratic candidates. His record of active and generous participation in environmentalism, renewable energy, climate change, charitable foundations, sustainable agriculture, and community development indicate that Tom Steyer may be the best candidate to lead the country as a progressive Democrat and as one who can decisively defeat Trump.
Joe Biden’s moderate agenda and the dealings of his son, which he excused by showing he is not much of a father by saying, “I do not talk to my children about their occupations,” makes him a marginal candidate, lacking support from the Democratic left and the anti-Trump Republicans who observe Biden as another “wheeler-dealer.”
Pete Buttigieg, as a Mayor of a small city, is too inexperienced, looks too young to be POTUS, and is another marginal choice.
Other present Democratic contenders are more popular with debate watchers and with those who want to regain the forward and progressive look of the pre-Clinton Democratic Party. Former President Barack Obama recognized the problem with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – Americans, in large numbers, are susceptible to the Socialist bugaboo — in time of economic crisis, social legislation may be welcome; in time of relative economic prosperity, there is no reason to fix what is not broken, best to not to mess with the system.
Elizabeth Warren can beat trump by a wide margin if she retreats totally from her support for a single payer health system and projects it as a plan to be pursued after Medicare for all with a public option becomes law.
Bernie Sanders could beat Trump by a substantial margin if he also modified his health plan, which he will not do. His recent heart problem will reduce his constituency. Selection of Stacy Abrams as his running mate, and knowledge that this provides an easy handoff to Stacey for president in 2024 will enable a winning combination by a small margin.
The GOP cannot win with Trump, or with either of the major declared candidates, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh. Their best hope is that Donald S.Trump, 45th president of the United States, is impeached and evicted from office, which will enable the candidate field to widen. Selection of a candidate is complicated by a polarization – those who greatly favored Trump may not receive support from those who disfavored him, and those who sought his ouster may not receive support from his adherents. The polarization limits the field of potential candidates
Former Ohio Governor, John Kasich, last man standing in the 2016 Republican convention, former Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Nikki Haley, and Alaska Senator, Lisa Ann Murkowski, are Republicans that have solid chances against all Democrats. They are moderate Republicans, well experienced in national politics, and, although not friendly toward Trump, have not been involved in trying to unseat him. Democratic selection of a candidate for POTUS may have to consider facing Kasich, Halley, or Murkowski, and not Trump. Some of the candidates, Biden in particular, may be incapable of beating any of them; another Democratic dilemma that leads to the proposition that impeaching Trump may be counterproductive to assuring a Democratic victory in the next presidential election.
Dan Lieberman edits Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy, economics, and politics. He is author of the book A Third Party Can Succeed in America, a Kindle: The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name).
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org