Democrats 2020 Challenges Post-Iowa
By Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH
February 10, 2020
"The biggest bust is former Vice President Joe Biden.
As noted weeks ago, he has lost a step, and his refusal
to monitor or sanction his son Hunter's behavior has
undermined his campaign. To repeatedly insist that
Hunter did nothing wrong in taking a seat on the board
of Burisma, a Ukraine oil company, while Joe Biden was
in office and investigating corruption in that country,
does not pass the smell or ethical test."
As Malcolm X so presciently stated shortly after the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963,"... the chickens have come home to roost ..." as evidenced by the implosion of the Iowa caucuses last Monday. This outcome clearly showed that the Democratic Party and their presidential candidates are in disarray-possibly with the exception of Michael Bloomberg.
The 2020 Iowa caucuses revealed that it is time to end the caucus system in that state and likely everywhere else. The leading Democratic presidential candidates Buttigieg, Sanders, Warren, and Biden are all pursuing failed and/or failing campaign strategies. Let's examine each in turn.
But most important is that they are unable to recognize that a majority of white voters are comfortable with Donald Trump being president as reflected in precipitously declining caucus participation since 2008 and his increasing approval numbers in spite of being impeached. Moreover, white voters provided the slim margins for victory (aided by minority voter suppression) in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin that Democrats lost narrowly in 2016, propelling Trump to the white House. The four Democratic leaders appear oblivious to this reality.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg naively continues to believe that he can persuade a sizeable number of Trump voters to join him in a unity coalition to dislodge him from the Oval office. And Buttigieg has done little to galvanize the Democrat's minority base--African Americans, Latinx, Asians, and Native Americans--where he polls in single digits. Without his prodigious funding from the LGBTQ community, he would not still be in contention.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist, refuses to accept that most Congressional Democrats are opposed or lukewarm to his Medicare for All (MFA) health care plan, with its cancellation of private insurance. He is also hurt by a reliance on his far-left progressive supporters-Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez whose campaign and advocacy styles push him further out of the political mainstream.
In addition, former Ohio state senator, Nina Turner, his key black aide, is sowing further division among Democrats with her calling Michael Bloomberg an oligarch on national TV, implying that he operates along the lines of Vladimir Putin's autocrats.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has crashed and is still burning out as a candidate. She struck out following Bernie in his MFA crusade and then revised her position after major pushback from her Democratic supporters over its costs. Then she attacked Bernie for being sexist and aligned herself with Hillary Clinton who also attacked him on her behalf. Now she is hanging on hoping to regain momentum in the New Hampshire primary.
Warren has stubbed her toe repeatedly, her cultural appropriation of Native American identity, being all in for MFA, and offering a costly plan for everything. She has no one around her that she actually listens to for strategic advice, and linking up with Hillary is likely the dumbest political move that she has made. Warren is flailing and will do so until the money dries up.
But the biggest bust is former Vice President Joe Biden. As noted weeks ago, he has lost a step, and his refusal to monitor or sanction his son Hunter's behavior has undermined his campaign. To repeatedly insist that Hunter did nothing wrong in taking a seat on the board of Burisma, a Ukraine oil company, while Joe Biden was in office and investigating corruption in that country, does not pass the smell or ethical test. It may have been legal, yet his defense of Hunter has been lackluster and has not put the issue to rest.
The Democratic electorate has cooled on Biden who is only in the mix because of his loyal service as President Obama's Vice President. However, he was never a quality presidential candidate during his previous two runs in 1988 and 2008. In 1988, he got caught plagiarizing another politician's speech, and in 2008, he received a political beat down from Obama.
Field contacts suggest that while Biden may win the South Carolina primary, his firewall, it will not be overwhelming. But if he does not perform well in Nevada, it will lessen his chance of winning in the Palmetto state. In the interim, he is sinking nationally, and his donors are pulling back because they believe his campaign is faltering and have come to believe he has lost a step politically. Black voters are also becoming skittish about his possibilities.
Even more distressing are the remarks of the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State during the Obama administration, who serves as Biden's senior campaign advisor and surrogate. They were made while he was campaigning with Biden.
His telephone conversation was overheard by an NBC news analyst as he was "... explaining what he would have to do to enter the presidential race amid the possibility of Bernie Sanders taking down the Democratic Party - down whole." Kerry has denied making those comments, but few believe him. This is another example of Biden's precarious support.
Given the foregoing realities, and the growing disunity within the Democratic ranks, the leading Democratic candidates have almost no ability to win the presidency in 2020. Having lost back-to-back in the Mueller investigation and the Trump impeachment debacle, Democrats are poised to run into a Trump tsunami from which they are unlikely to recover. Trump operates like an American gangster in the way he handles his politics and his businesses.
And he has positioned himself as a victim of Democrats' overreach while launching a comprehensive campaign strategy during his State of the Union address: killing terrorists, fighting immigration, job creation, school choice and criminal justice for minorities (to show his base that he is not racist), and a robust economy. Trump has sized up the Democrats and is set to clean each of their political clocks.
Nonetheless, his most creative tactic is his effort to siphon off black male voters as he sees the schism between them and black females who receive nearly all the credit for Democratic victories as if the black vote is of a single gender. Obama was able to turn them out with their wives and girlfriends in 2008 and 2012 and gave credit to both groups. The lack of black male turnout for Hillary in swing states in 2016 doomed her presidential candidacy.
Had it not been for the work of Joe Reed, chair of the Alabama Democratic Conference (an African American political organization) in turning out black men for Doug Jones during his 2018 U.S. Senate race, it is doubtful his victory would have occurred. The cutting TV ads he produced, that were criticized by the Alabama Democratic Party, energized black male turnout.
Trump peeled off eight percent of them in Florida in 2016, which contributed to his narrow 1.2 percent victory margin over Hillary Clinton. His campaign staff is scrubbing the voter data in all 50 states and is reaching out to selected Democratic groups to provide him the needed margins in swing states. For the moment, the Democrats are still flogging each other politically to Trump's advantage.
The only Democratic presidential candidate paying attention to the multifaceted Trump campaign and who has the financial ability and plan to counter it is Michael Bloomberg. Still Bloomberg has to hold his own on the February 7th Democratic presidential debate stage to ensure his political breakthrough.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell.
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