The overarching Democratic strategy for winning the 2020 general election is based on the assumption that outrage over President Trump’s personality and policies will motivate their rank-and-file voters to turn out in record numbers to defeat him. If Iowa was a portent of things to come, and it usually is for the party of Jefferson and Jackson, this “anyone but Trump” plan will fail. Many questions remain about how those caucuses were so comically mismanaged, but one fact is indisputable. The Democrats hoped for an Iowa turnout comparable to the 2008 record of 240,000 but fell short of that goal by 28 percent.
Why aren’t their voters more motivated?
The answer is that a political campaign that relies on stoking voter rage against any politician, including Donald Trump, for an entire presidential term is doomed to become rather dull. This is particularly true if the iniquitous actions attributed to the president consistently turn out to be wildly exaggerated or simply fabricated. The Democrats have leveled so many absurd accusations against Trump that most informed voters just yawn when they read about yet another “bombshell” revelation that allegedly confirms his fell designs on democracy. The latest of these involves what the Washington Post’s Max Boot inevitably dubbed the “Friday night massacre.”
This is, of course, a reference to last week’s long-overdue removal of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council and Trump’s recall of his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. Both of these characters should have been fired long ago. Vindman actively undermined the president’s Ukraine policy and was almost certainly involved in the composition of the “whistleblower complaint” that House Democrats used as the pretext for impeachment. Sondland irresponsibly circulated the “quid pro quo” fiction despite what Trump had explicitly told him. Yet Max Boot is somehow shocked that these terminations sparked no public outrage:
There was, predictably, no public pushback to these decisions from within the administration, because Trump is now surrounded by political invertebrates. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acquiesced to Sondland’s firing just as he acquiesced in the far more offensive campaign waged by Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to recall career Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who retired in late January.
To expect the public to regard any of this as somehow nefarious is absurd. It’s more likely that, having been informed of the facts, most voters would express surprise at the president’s forbearance. These three people worked for Trump and did everything they could to sabotage his foreign-policy agenda, and he finally fired them. Why would anyone not suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome object to this decision? Even Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who is by no means a Trump admirer, defended him: “Ultimately, whether people like it or not, there are consequences to elections. And the president has, within his purview, to make the decisions about who he’d like serving in his cabinet.”
The inability to stoke perpetual outrage over perfectly reasonable presidential decisions isn’t the only reason Democratic turnout is lagging. Anyone masochistic enough to watch last Friday’s Democratic presidential debate will have witnessed another reason voters aren’t showing up. The candidates vying to replace Trump want to fundamentally transform a nation with proposals that are uniformly undesirable. The front-runner for Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, for example, wants to impose a single-payer health-care plan on the country that would eliminate private insurance and decrease disposable income, according to a detailed Heritage Foundation study:
Advocates of this idea suggest that Americans currently covered by private health plans would be financially better off, even after their taxes.… After accounting for both the tax increases and private spending for health insurance and medical care, we find that average annual household disposable income would decline by $5,671 (or 11 percent) under a new government-run health care program.
Why do they want to transform a nation with which 90 percent of the electorate is satisfied? They don’t really like the United States very much. Among the defects belabored by the conspicuously pale candidates was the nation’s “systemic racism.” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the same candidate who wants to shove the above-noted single-payer program down our throats, issued the following indictment: “We have a racist society from top to bottom.” Joe Biden chimed in with the following: “The fact is that we in fact there is systemic racism.” Elizabeth Warren made similar noises, but the longest oration on the subject was issued by Sen. Amy Klobuchar:
There’s something else insidious going on we haven’t addressed, and that is the systemic racism when it comes to voting that moves across the country to limit people’s right to vote.… I have been leading on these bills to automatically register every kid to vote in this country when they turn 18. There is no reason we can’t do that across the country to stop the gerrymandering by setting up independent commissions.
This is, of course, a version of the voter-suppression schtick perfected by failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who still insists that she would now be the Peach State’s governor had she not been the victim of the systemic racism to which Klobuchar alludes. Among the people she has ostensibly convinced of this is none other than “Mayor Pete.” Speaking to the African American Leadership Summit in Atlanta, Buttigieg delivered himself of the following assertion: “Stacey Abrams ought to be the governor of Georgia.” What he really believes is that he badly needs to get his support among African Americans out of single digits or he’s a goner.
Additional proposals these Democrats have put forward to fix America are free health care for illegal aliens, free college tuition, free child care, an end to fossil fuel use, and the repeal of Trump’s tax cuts. This brings us back to Orange Man Bad and discouraged Democrats. The 2020 strategy of their party is to destroy Trump and promise the voters anything, no matter how implausible. Is it selling? A January 30 AP poll reports, “When it comes to the 2020 presidential election, Democrats are nervous wrecks and Republican excitement has grown.” Rank-and-file Democrats know Trump is going to win. Why should they go out in the cold to vote in a meaningless primary?