The blue wave dialogues
We have begun a remarkable national conversation about issues by those Democratic candidates who have stepped forward, joined the primary contest, each hoping to run against Donald Trump in 2020. It’s a long, grueling process covering months of debates, interviews and speeches wherein their words will be scrutinized and judged, their policy proposals weighed, each promising to un-ring the Trumpian bell.
I would judge, however, that the overriding concern of Democrats will be electability and the candidate chosen must have the “it” factor.
Some pundits have opined that our democracy, irrespective of its institutional resiliency, will not survive a second Trump term. They’ve also signaled, after listening to Trump riffing at his re-election 2020 launch in Orlando, Florida, week last, that this presidential contest will be ugly. Some have used the word “brutal.”
If the Orlando rally is any indication, it’s clear that we’ve all seen this movie before. It was like a class reunion where the band played the standard oldies: “Drain the Swamp,” “Build that wall,” “Crooked Hillary,” “Lock her up!” “Fake News,” “USA, USA,” and “33,000 emails.” There was not one sentence that referenced a coherent rationale for awarding Trump “Four more years!” But for reasons that prove elusive, these MAGA faithful mirror the Deadheads who followed the Grateful Dead from concert to concert in search of that visceral feeling of being part of something that was transcendent. I suppose religious revival might also be an appropriate analog. Here is Trump’s description of the Democrats: “Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and destroy our country as we know it.”
This was followed by a segue into chronic dread: “They try to erase your vote, erase your legacy of the greatest campaign probably in the history of our country.” They will “shut down your free speech, use the power of the law to punish their opponents and flood the country with illegal immigrants, while denying the constitutional rights of hardworking natural-born Americans.” This is grievance politics at its most raw, not policy or hope politics. It’s cynical and nihilistic and has been since the golden escalator.
So the essential question is: who can beat Trump? It’s all but impossible to imagine our nation re-electing this wannabe autocrat. But it happened before.
When asked what the most frustrating thing about being President was, Trump said, “Congress.” Of course. He wants total control over the executive and the legislative branches of government (he believes he’s got SCOTUS handled). The idea of a co-equal check on his power is so tiresome.
How much simpler life at the White House would be without Nancy and Chuck. He could build his wall with one stroke of his extra-wide Sharpie and order ICE to round up “millions” of undocumented immigrants, unmindful of creating a tsunami of pain and separation. Imagine those kids who were born here returning from school to find a note on the door saying Mom and Dad have been deported. He could eliminate birthright citizenship, chain migration, anchor babies, and seriously truncate our asylum laws. Dreamers? Gone, back to countries they’ve never known.
The press: Using that same Sharpie, he could shut down the “failing New York Times,” and censor and disparage the Washington Post, etc.
Free and untainted elections? Sure. Unless his campaign needs just a little help from the Russians who have some “oppo research” that is worth a look before, well, calling the Fibbies.
Picking up on the “Lock her up!” theme, there’s the investigation of the Mueller Report investigators. “Lock them up!”
And there are his role models to consider: President Xi of China appointed himself leader for life. After all, presidential term limits are so yesterday. And there’s the way the North Koreans stand and clap when Kim appears. That’s respect.
Trump’s final rally admonition to the MAGAs: “Vote!” And they will. And so must we.
Magical thinking: A blue wave sweep not subject to the word “rigged.”
Chris Honoré is an Ashland Tidings columnist.