Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley walk on the stage at the end of a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party’s first presidential debate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
There are currently 13 Democrats vying to become the 2020 nominee to take on President Trump. The reason is simple: Trump lost the 2016 popular vote, Trump has arguably weak approval ratings and Trump is relentlessly attacked by the Left. In short, they are like sharks smelling blood in the water.
History stands in their way. Since 1900, only four sitting presidents were defeated in their reelection efforts. In 1912, William Howard Taft lost when Teddy Roosevelt formed a third party which split the GOP vote allowing Woodrow Wilson to win. In 1980, Jimmy Carter had to fight off Ted Kennedy who garnered 37% of the Democratic primary vote. With turmoil in that party, Reagan went onto a solid victory. In 1992, George H.W. Bush got delivered a double blow first by an insurgent candidacy of Pat Buchanan followed by a general election third party candidate- Ross Perot. The only outlier was Hoover in 1932 because of the Depression and it is doubtful that any sitting president would have been elected under those circumstances.
Of course, in 2020 no third party candidate has emerged other than ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz who is said to be considering an independent run. Democrats have been in attack mode since they believe he will steal Democratic votes and cost them the Presidency. Leaving aside this scenario for a minute, the Left may have other things to worry about other than Schultz. The first and most obvious is that Trump, at this point, will likely not have a strong primary opponent. Any challenger would have to come from the elite donor class of Republicans and although they have the money, they are not very popular.
In 2016, the NeverTrumpers did put forth an alternative candidate in Evan McMullin. For their efforts, he received a putrid 0.53% of the vote and actually finished fifth nationally. And considering that the best they could do was that embarrassing 0.53%, consider that in 1980 John Anderson pulled in 6.6% of the vote and Reagan still won in a landslide. If you cannot make a mark at 6.6%, then 0.53% is even more of a stretch. Regardless, the NeverTrump contingent is small and growing smaller. Many have made peace with Trump including most of the staff of National Review, Ben Shapiro, Glenn Beck and Erick Erickson. There are, naturally, the diehards who have found a home at The Bulwark.
The 2016 battle between Clinton and Sanders, on the other hand, has left open wounds that have not healed. The Democratic Party will always be the home of liberals with the only question how liberal it should be. In 2016, the battle lines were neatly drawn between the socialists (Sanders) and the neoliberals (Clinton). In 2020, the battle will be uglier with more candidates fighting for position. The more socialist element will be drawn to the likes of Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar while the neoliberals will drift towards Biden and Booker.
One can see it now. The Harris supporters will accuse the Sanders supporters of racism because they do not support a black woman. Booker supporters will accuse black supporters of any white candidate of being Uncle Toms. Klobuchar supporters will accuse Booker supporters of sexism for not supporting a woman. Whoever emerges as the nominee, there will be bad feelings left over the primary, despite the kiss-and-make-up sure to follow. Voters with allegiance to any particular candidate will hold the grudges for the candidates,
If a centrist wins the Democratic nomination (the closest is Biden), it is likely young socialists will bolt the Party and support some further Left candidate, or just sit it out, This happened in 1968 when young peaceniks decided to sit the election out and Richard Nixon won by a small margin over Hubert Humphrey. The Left of the Left have convinced themselves that Sanders would have won in 2016 over Trump and blame the Democratic establishment for crippling them and supporting Clinton instead. If a non-socialist emerges, it may create enough of a rift to make a difference.
Democrats are great at talking about voter suppression, but they may be practicing a form of self-suppression by voting (or not voting) out of spite. Again, it has happened before. Ralph Nader, more than the Supreme Court, cost Al Gore in 2000. It does not take that great of a percentage of Democrats to defect or sit out an election to make a difference in the end.
Further, unlike the Democrats of old, the more socialist among them have no affinity for the party. Ideology trumps party loyalty with this breed of voter inculcated in academia. They have increasing media power with publications like the Jacobin, The Baffler, and Current Affairs. Chapo Trap House is a podcast that attacks the neoliberals within the Democratic Party with as much zeal as they go after the GOP and conservatives and has thousands of listeners. In short, the socialist wing of the Democratic Party is more likely to throw a hissy fit than all the hot air emanating off the pages of The Bulwark and have a greater effect on electoral outcomes.
This does not mean Trump will necessarily win a second term or that it will be easy. Hence, everyone who calls themselves a Republican or a conservative would be well-advised to cheer on the craziness of the Democrats. Every two weeks they seem to out-crazy themselves. For example, notice the number of candidates jumping on the slavery reparations band wagon. The level of craziness will get worse before they inevitably tack to the center in a general election campaign. By then, the level of disgust and mistrust will have taken hold in the minds of voters. Further, if Trump is the GOP candidate, which appears more likely by the day, the dwindling number of NeverTrumpers will have to make an important decision. Do they join the socialists and throw their own hissy fit, or do they realize that the non-Trump (be it a third party candidate or Democrat) is light years worse than the Big Bad Orange Man?
With such a diverse field of candidates (although not greatly diversified in ideology), it may be that which they celebrate the most- diversity- is the vehicle that buys us another four years of Trump. Wouldn’t that be sweet revenge?