Back when I was in college I recall each Political Science course I took beginning with a discussion of current events. I would like very much if I could sit in or attend a Political Science course happening this week. Each day has been a new adventure in American politics, and that is saying something given our charged political environment and how important this upcoming election feels.
The week started off with the Iowa Caucuses. The beginning of the Democratic primary season and the march to a challenger to President Trump being named at the upcoming National Democratic Convention. Things did not go smoothly. Votes were to be counted by an app that apparently didn’t work and Iowa Democrats seemingly forgot the old methods of counting votes. The process is now forever tainted and if the Iowa delegates end up being the margin of difference the Democratic candidate for President will enter the race under a cloud of uncertainty.
Tuesday brought us the State of the Union address. A time for the President of the United States to address Congress and let them know the direction the government is to take for the upcoming year. This was not what happened. President Trump entered the assembly chamber, refused to shake hands with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and gave a campaign speech with questionable veracity. Due to believing Trump had stretched the truth or told outright lies Speaker Pelosi tore up her copy of the speech.
On Wednesday the Senate voted along party lines with the exception of Mitt Romney to acquit President Trump of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Many Senate Republicans announced that they did believe Trump did something wrong but either weren’t willing to remove him or believe he had learned his lesson. Trump showed them how much he had learned his lesson by immediately sending out a tweet declaring himself the eternal ruler of America or some sort of god king. As the US Constitution is very specific and direct that no elected officials should seek titles of nobility this is a violation of the Constitution and Trump’s oath of office thus opening him up for a new round of impeachment.
As you can see it has been a fascinating few days that could only get weirder. Trump is scheduled to address the nation today at noon and I doubt he will be humble and cordial in his supposed victory. Judging by his latest comments on Twitter he will very much be Trump.
What these last few days highlight, more than anything, is that the Republican party has fully and completely sold out to a cult of personality. There no longer exists any shred of ideals or a party platform and if we were to think the Republican party to be about a small and weak centralized federal government with most of the power to administrate held by the states we would be sorely mistaken. The Republicans are now a big government party just like the Democrats. The only debate now is what should that big government do and as far as the Republicans go their desire for the actions of the governments rest in the whims of Trump.
I look at the upcoming presidential election and see a battle for the very soul of our nation. We will decide if we are a nation that accepts people going broke and dying due to rising healthcare cost, turning away or locking away migrants that have endured unspeakable hardships seeking asylum in our nation, accepting massive wealth inequalities and supporting those that horde money and are the enemies of a free market economy, and a nation that allows a minority of radicals to promote and defend institutions that encourage violence or we can be a nation open and welcoming to those seeking aid and comfort, a nation that provides healthcare, education, and uplifting social protections for her citizens, an economy that frees money from those that horde it and allows it to flow through the market, and a nation founded on promoting the safety and well being of her residents and citizens from public displays of violence.
This is what the 2020 election is about, and so I look back at the last few days as a failing. The Democratic party does not seem to understand what they are fighting for. They are standing on stages debating with each other about public options vs medicare for all and telling us they have plans if we visit their website. The Democratic party lacks a sense of urgency. They are looking at this election as if it is no different than 2012 or 2008 or 2004. The lesson they learned from 2016 is they won the popular vote and if they had done a little better in Wisconsin Trump would never have become President so they just need to repeat that strategy. What they fail to realize and continue to ignore is the fact that Trump didn’t fight over the 6% of swing voters as Presidential candidates are supposed to do. Trump spoke to and visited with and traveled to disenfranchised voters and built himself a new base and coalition.
If the Democrats hope to beat Trump they need to start treating this election with the seriousness it deserves. The primaries have all the attention on them. The candidates need to start talking big picture issues instead of focusing on the minutia and minute differences between them. They need to see this as the battle for the soul of our nation that it is and start telling the American people and the world at large what they are going to do to rebuild the shattered reputation of our country. They need to tell us what policies and laws they will fight for to not only catch America up to the rest of the developed world when it comes to healthcare, education, and the environment but to turn America from a lagging embarrassment into a pioneer on these fronts. Finally they need to discuss immigration reform and what we will do to make America a welcoming beacon of hope for refugees and immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
If America wants to be great again we mus first shed ourselves of the stain of the last four years. The Democrats need to show they can fight for the American people, restore the American dream, and guide America into a future that still sees it as the leading nation of the free world.