Finished watching four hours of Democratic debates and wanted to share some observations on how the democratic field is structured and what the challenge is for 2020.
Basically, you can start to see two camps.
On the one hand, there is the camp of those who want to fundamentally change the system, who talk about a “political revolution” and want “big structural change” (canceling all student debt, breaking up big tech, government-run health care, etc.). The leaders of that camp are definitely Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. To them, Trump is not just an anomaly, but a symptom of much more profound problems that need to be dealt with in a more systematic way.
On the other hand, you have a more moderate camp which believes that the you can fix the economy without demonizing the rich or without blowing up the system. That camp believes in the system, but not in who is leading it. To them, Trump is an anomaly and the enemy (not the banks, not the rich, not the system). Leader of that camp is definitely Joe Biden – a moderate, conciliatory figure who represents the party’s values. Everything he says today, he could have run on in 2016. He (and those who fall into this camp) sound like a continuation of Obama’s White House policies.
This inevitably brings up two questions: First, “which camp is best for the country?” And second, “which type of camp has the best chances against Trump.” Regarding the first question, you as a voter need to know behind which camp you want to rally. But regarding the second question, it’s important to briefly look at Trump’s victory in 2016.
Back then, the Republicans and Democrats could each choose between more moderate candidates (like Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton) and more “change-the-system”-style candidates (Trump or Bernie Sanders). The Republicans put forward their “change-the-system” style candidate which was Trump, whereas the Democrats went for their best moderate option, Clinton.
In hindsight of the 2016 election, it became clear how much Trump’s win was driven by people’s frustration and grievance with the system. That’s also why some people feel that a more “change-the-system”-style Democratic candidate like Sanders would have had a better chance than their eventual choice, Clinton.
The problem is that Trump’s base, those who voted for him because they wanted a “change-the-system” candidate (and it was only the Republican party that provided one in 2016), remains super loyal. You can see that loyalty in Trump’s approval ratings that have never fallen under 37% – which is high compared to the lows of his predecessors. Also note that he started office with an approval rating of 46% and is now at 44%. That, in combination with how well the economy is faring, makes it hard to imagine that those voters would NOT want their candidate to have another four years to bring upon the systems change they wanted to see in the first place.
At this point it’s really hard to tell what type of Democratic camp will have the better cards to beat Trump. Those who want to restore normalcy and stability, getting rid of Trump and bringing up some semblance of the government they know and love (led by Biden) or those who want systemic change, draining the swamp, and fundamentally restructuring the way how the economy and government work.
If you have an opinion on this, please share.