Misreading the results
It’s easy to understand how a big electoral victory can instill a high confidence level. But such a large victory can also lead to a misreading of its impact on future results. That is particularly true when the warning signs start flashing and many Democrats seemingly ignore them. But history has repeatedly revealed how overconfidence can bring unexpected and undesirable consequences in subsequent elections. Indeed, need anyone be reminded of the failed Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016.
The point is every election stands on its own. Nothing in past success can be taken for granted. Most importantly, the candidate must appeal to the particular electorate for the seat being sought. Certainly, Democratic success in the 2018 midterms was based in large part on revulsion and rejection of Donald Trump. That is borne out by the fact that the results were due more to differences in turnout rates than by significant changes in voting behavior. High sustained turnout by liberals and a decline in turnout by conservatives.
But Democratic success in congressional districts that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016 was also based on candidates more appealing to that electorate than those carried under the Clinton banner. And that is the point. In 2020 those districts could easily revert to Republicans if the Democratic candidate cannot appeal to a broader electorate. This is of import first in the Democratic primaries.
Progressive Liberals and Moderate Centrists
Progressive liberals dominate social media and are clearly trying to move the Democratic Party leftward. Yet progressive liberals do not dominate the Democratic Party. The New York Times recently published an article, The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate. Using data from the Hidden Tribes Project, it concludes that the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats, who typically don’t post political content online, outnumber this group of progressive liberals by roughly 2 to 1.
Once you go beyond the Democratic Party, the large centrist electorate is more moderate. Democrats will need to obtain a majority of this centrist group’s support in 2020 to win the Presidency, hold the House and have even the slightest chance to win the Senate. This will not happen if the Democratic Party moves so far leftward, it chases away the moderates. That doesn’t mean they will vote Republican. They just may not show up at the polls in 2020 the way many conservative Republicans did not in 2018.
Dangers in Another Trump Presidency
It should be obvious why Democrats cannot allow this to happen. First, Trump has been, is and will be a disaster for this country. He has endangered the national security of the United States by focusing on the false issue of a border wall with Mexico and ignoring the real cyber security threats posed by Russia, China, and other countries. He has needlessly inflamed and aggravated issues with U.S. allies in NATO. He has initiated trade wars with allies and others that have already impacted economic growth.
His most touted accomplishment—2017 tax cuts—has enriched corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. Despite his claim that such tax cuts would create increased economic growth to pay for themselves, like his many lies, the actual results have proven otherwise. Instead he has mortgaged the future of the country while personally enriching himself and other wealthy individuals.
Second, despite the zeal displayed by many new House Democrats in pushing their agenda and some good ideas on healthcare, taxes, immigration and climate change, they will have absolutely no chance to accomplish anything if Trump wins a second term, Republicans retain control of the Senate and/or regain control of the House. To avoid this disaster, Democrats must win over centrist moderates. And to do so requires a Presidential candidate and a platform in line with a centrist philosophy.
The Democratic 2020 Platform
That platform should include healthcare reform promoting universal coverage, tax reform with increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy, immigration reform with resolution of the DACA issue, and restoring steps to minimize climate change. It should also recognize that the United States is a capitalist country and will remain so. But because this system no longer provides the greater population with the opportunity to grow and share in its rewards, it is time to examine what has gone wrong and establish the rules to put it back on course. Finally, it should include emphasis on national security as this is an issue in which Trump has truly exposed the United States to serious peril. Democrats can and should own the issue of national security.
But by all means this platform should not be so far left it drives away moderate democrats, independents and even some Republicans fed up with the embarrassment of such a corrupt, racist, uninformed, misogynistic, pathetic individual heading its once proud Party. Remember, while progressives have the largest voice on social media, they are a minority of democratic and independent voters.