Candidates need to run against their opponents; but someone needs to run against Trump
Democrats are fueled by massive disapproval of Donald Trump but they’re actually running against their Republican opponents.
If Democrats are running against Trump, it’s subtle: They are trying to project calm, stability, decency and respect for tolerance and the rule of law, drawing an implicit contrast with Trump, and are challenging their Republican foes when they dabble in Trumpist xenophobia and veiled racism, as opposed to making it overtly all about the president.
This reality is obvious if you look at how candidates like Doug Jones, Connor Lamb and Patty Schachtner have won in tough Trump territory.
Sargent’s thesis is now being confirmed by some Democrats making the case that the party should be more fixated on Trump. Tom Steyer is putting millions behind the idea that the party must nationalize the 2018 elections in the a way it did not in 2010 and 2014, which focusing on turning out base voters. Jeff Hauser argues in Rewire.news, “If you want to grab attention in 2018, you need to discuss Trump.”
Hauser says that when you discuss Trump, you have to focus on one word — corruption.
“Trump’s corruption is a throughline for how and for whom he runs domestic policy,” Hauser wrote. “And it’s also a threat to national security.”
Many Democrats, especially vulnerable Democrats in red states running in off-year elections, hate nationalized elections. They imagined Obama only activating the GOP base, the same way many feel campaigning on the Supreme Court only motivates the right — even though in 2016 we had a chance to end Citizens United, which unpopular with not just most voters but many of the people we need to vote most.
The fact remains that Obama was going to pay huge role in the 2010 and 2014 elections no matter what Obama did because Republicans were going to make sure he did.
In 2010, PACs and outside groups spent hundreds of millions of dollars turning Obama and two of the most successful things the government has done this century — the Stimulus and the ACA — into albatrosses around Democratic candidates throats. In 2014, the message was basically “Obama = Ebola.” Meanwhile the president was mostly reined in from rebutting these arguments and making a positive case for the party, even though he’d received more votes than any American ever.
Trump will not be reined in. He’s going to hit key swing seats like Indiana, Montana and Florida hard. Meanwhile Democrats candidates are going to be shying away from attacking him and MSNBC is going to be focusing on scandals that mostly only occupy the imagination of die-hard Democrats.
Let’s face facts: There’s an increasingly good chance Democrats will win the popular vote in 2018 and not take the House. This would be a national emergency that would validate the most corrupt and lawless president of this century, if not ever.
Democrats don’t just need a wave; they need a huge wave, possibly as large an 11 percent advantage in the House of Representatives. And to achieve that you need a toxic president.
Yes, we have the most unpopular new president in the history of polling, but he’s not so unpopular that he can’t be an asset to Republicans. And Mike Pence has made campaigning and fundraising his full-time job.
People who think the party is focusing too much on Trump probably spend too much time on Twitter and watching cable.
They’re making assumptions about electorate that Trump has proven wrong. We have to remember that Trump’s entire appeal is based on him knowing as little or less about governance than large chunks of the population. Here’s a shocking fact in 2018: many voters are as nearly uninformed about politics as the president of the United States.
People are busy, the economy Trump inherited as strong as it’s been all century, and the right wing media is so disciplined and powerful that it’s possible that Trump’s approval could keep rising. Know this: A deal with North Korea, even just a BS agreement in principle that eventually falls apart, could bolster Trump by diminishing the biggest fear many voters had about him — namely a nuclear apocalypse.
And as long as Democratic candidates are fixating, as they should, on their opponents and issues, Trump is free to set the agenda. Expect the media (along with some of the left) to keepo being sucked into his vortex that sucks up so much energy on Trump’s horrid words and so little on his horrid actions.
We can’t assume people know the terrible things Trump’s administration is doing to make them sicker, poorer and less safe. People know about Trump, Russia, and Mueller. But they don’t realize how badly these leeches are ripping them off to make themselves and their friends a little richer.
People who pay lots of attention to politics — people like you who get to 75th paragraph in a blog post — know about the Trump family’s multifarious scams. You know the way Betsy DeVos has sided with predatory for-profit schools and set them loose to start ripping off students again. You know how Scott Pruitt is now being investigated for more than a dozen violations of the taxpayers’ trust while covering up information about chemical pollution.
But most people need to be reminded that Trump gave corporations a trillion-dollar bailout while trying to cut Medicaid by almost that much, breaking a sacred campaign promise. They need to be reminded that we have no idea how by how many millions Trump cut taxes for himself, his family and his billionaire cabinet. They need to reminded know that he wants to pay for those cuts by slashing children’s health care.
Most importantly, people should not go a day with out some reminder that millions have lost their insurance since became president and premiums are skyrocketing just because of Trump’s actions.
We must never forget that our disadvantages are massive.
Democrats don’t have a Fox News that coordinates with the party’s agenda. We don’t have massive Super PACs like the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity to run a constant assault on the president. And we don’t have Congress that is acting more like a party Super PAC than a branch of government.
Democratic candidates are doing the right thing by focusing on their districts with a progressive message that is itself an antidote to corruption. But just as we cannot live by the campaign finance laws we are committed to putting in place, Democrats cannot disarm when it comes to exposing this administration and matching the right’s tactics on TV and Facebook.
We need to come up with tactics to show rural GOP voters how brutalized they’ve been by Trump’s policies ourselves. Trump and Pence can’t be allowed to go anywhere without answering for their corruption. They must be made into anchor to be tossed at every Republican in every competitive seat in America.
Now all we need is half a billion dollars to make that happen.