Tuesday, February 25, 2020
At this point in 2016, the consensus among the talking heads was that Donald Tr*mp could never win the Republican candidacy, much less the presidency. Surely, they opined, Tr*mp was too extreme, too unorthodox: the nominee would be a far safer candidate. (Remember Jeb Bush?)
What the punditry missed was that it was Tr*mp's unorthodoxy – his disregard the "rules" – that powered his candidacy. Tr*mp was a disruptor – a norm-breaking agent of change – and change was just what many voters desperately wanted. It was the same impulse that helped Obama win in 2008. (The black guy just had to be different – right?)
For decades, American optimism has been in decline. Only a third believe their children will be better off than they are, and the data indicate that the majority two-thirds are probably correct. Over the past three years, nothing has happened to change those attitudes. A low unemployment rate makes it easier to find a second job when your first job won't pay the bills, but that's not a recipe for life satisfaction. In the critical Rust Belt states, Tr*mp's trade wars have reduced the number of well-paid manufacturing jobs; and insecure "gig" jobs with no benefits offer little comfort.
Tr*mp's own weaknesses could make him vulnerable to any potential Democratic opponent (with the possible exception of Joe Biden), but cautious incrementalism doesn't inspire voters to flock to the polls. The real "swing voters" aren't cautious moderates; they're angry malcontents. Like it or not, Bernie is the Democratic Party's best chance to win over those voters and take the presidency.