Hey Dems – This is how to beat Trump

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Before I dive into this topic, let me say that I’ll vote for whoever wins the Democratic primary, even the candidates I’m not too enthusiastic about including Delaney, Sanders, Gabbard, Hickenlooper, and Gillibrand. I have to say too that I am still irritated by Bernie’s behavior during the Democratic primary of 2016, and the fact that he only cooly supported HRC, and to this day wants nothing to do with her or by extension her supporters. By I’ll leave it at that for now.

If there are any lessons from the 2016 Republican primary that Trump opponents could learn, it would be that you can’t out bully Trump.  He thrives on petty fights on the low road.  He’ll give his opponent a nickname, remember “Little Marco”, “Lying Ted”, “Pocahontas”, “Low Energy Jeb”, “Crazy Bernie” and bait the candidate to go on the defensive or to strike back.  As long as the debate is about nicknames, and grade school insults, Trump wins.  The second lesson is that he lies, by the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale’s count, 4,424 falsehoods as of February 20, 2019, nearly 6 lies per day since Trump became president. Practically everything he will say on the debate stage will be misleading, a falsehood or a flat out lie.  Given this fact, the democratic candidates need to understand that Trump supporters don’t care if he lies – truth is of no importance.  Nor do they seem to care that Trump may have committed crimes while in office, that he and his campaign may have colluded with the Russians to win the election. Many Dems and Repubs view events through a partisan polarized lens – us vs. them; good guys vs. bad guys.  What Republicans seem more interested in is fighting culture wars rooted in the fear that they may loose their guns, their cows and hamburgers, their bibles, the right to life, the right to pollute with impunity, the right to large tax breaks, the right to keep blacks, legal immigrants, and the elderly from voting, and the right to keep the country as white as possible by walling out non-white immigrants.

Now that I’ve laid this out, one word of advice to the Democrats is not to engage the extreme right wing or give any oxygen to their conspiracies. The Dems have already won the culture wars by a fairly wide margin as evidenced by the popular vote and the landslide victory in the midterms.  The Dems should focus on the issues that the majority of Americans want action on – climate change, income inequality, racial justice, immigration reform, women’s rights, LGQTB issues, judicial appointments that look like America, infrastructure, and rehabilitating the reputation of the U.S. in the eyes of our traditional allies.

Here’s a look at some of the top candidates and how they could beat Trump:

Booker v. Trump – Trump seems to think he has Booker’s number, that he can intimidate him.  It may be a New Jersey turf competition for Trump who will use his thuggish ways to smear Booker.  Like his racist attacks on Obama, Trump will attempt to diminish Booker’s accomplishments by questioning his education and credentials.  And Trump has some nerve given that he threatened lawsuits against Fordham if they released his transcripts. I think the worst thing Booker could do is go on the defensive.  He needs to challenge Trump’s abysmal record and push forward his own agenda and force Trump to debate the issues.

Harris v. Trump – Trump is going to brand Harris an extreme liberal or a socialist who was bad on criminal justice issues.  He’ll take the Democrat opposition research on her and use it to his advantage.  And don’t be surprised if he pushes out a birther issue calling into question her legitimacy because she lived in Canada and her parents were born outside the U.S. She shouldn’t spend much time on the defense.  If he questions her citizenship, she can demand his tax returns.  I think she could bring issues of race to the fore, citing Charlottesville, the lack of diversity in his cabinet and with his judicial picks.  But she should focus most on her policies and on restoring democracy.  Her message must be positive and aspirational.

Klobuchar v. Trump – Trump no doubt will pounce on Klobuchar’s temper with staff.  He’ll play the sexist card and brand her emotional and unfit for running the country.  She could challenge him on this issue citing his deplorable history with women.  Like all other candidates, though, she has to remain positive and aspirational.  She won’t get enthusiastic support from progressives, but she may pick up centrist Hillary supporters, and support from Independents and Republicans who are simply feed up with Trump.

Warren v. Trump – Warren can win, but she has to navigate the DNA fiasco carefully and not let Trump get under her skin with the Pocahontas chants.  She is a fighter, however, and she may be the only one who could take him down at his own game.  I think it would be a mistake, though, for her to fight him on the school playground. Her bigger problem may be the extremist label.  Republicans like to use the extremist label (because it has this connection to terrorism) to demonize opponents.  Rather than trying to prove that she’s not an extremist, Warren should focus on income inequality which will resonate with most Americans and a vision for a better future.

Sanders v. Trump – Trump will brand Bernie an extremist and socialist, linking his vision to failed experiments in Venezuela and Cuba.  Bernie will need to brush that aside as ridiculousness and instead focus on gaining traction in the African-American community, maintaining the 2016 enthusiasm from millennials, and winning support from HRC supporters who feel betrayed by the campaign in 2016.  For BS to win, he needs a big turnout.

All the Democratic candidates need to stay laser focused on the issues that the majority of Americans care most about – gun control, climate change, racial justice, immigration reform, infrastructure, income inequality, women’s rights, LBGQT issues, restoring U.S. democracy and U.S. standing in the world, and matters of foreign policy.  And while “Space is the Place”, Peace is the Thing. These issues are the path to victory and the best way to out Trump Trump.

 

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