Democratic Party; Revolution vs Restoration. : ThyBlackMan

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Democratic Party; Revolution vs Restoration.

July 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Health, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Coming out of the first round of debates for the Democratic nomination for President, the defining messages of the upcoming campaign are beginning to take shape.  The competing themes are revolution  (big ideas), versus restoration (return to a traditional American presidency).  The subtext is a generational battle although, unlike what you would think, the oldest candidate – Sanders – is the avatar of political revolution and the youngest candidate – Buttigieg – speaks of restoring civility.

The debate about healthcare is emblematic of these two themes.  Some of the candidates who favor revolution are seeking “Medicare for all” and complete abolition of private health insurance.  On the other side are candidates in favor of building on the Affordable Care Act, while allowing people to keep their private insurance if they are satisfied with their current provider.  In between are plans for everything from free college to “decriminalizing” border crossings for asylum seekers.

As “new-agey” as Marianne Williamson came across – one pundit said she should be nominated for Secretary of Crystals – she was on point when she said “grand plans won’t win this election.”  She explained, “Trump reached into the American psyche and weaponized fear.”  His whole message in 2016 was predicated on the proposition that he would stop the “browning” of the country and bring back a white America.  It’s interesting that he never said, and wasn’t pressed by the media on, exactly when was America’s golden age that he was going to return us to.  That allowed everyone who his message resonated with to conjure for themselves the past period that needed to be re-established.  This is the meta-dynamic that will shape the 2020 election contest.  Who will be able to create a picture of a “familiar future”, a future the majority of people can imagine, if not see.

While the stereotypical caricature of a Trump supporter is a beer-bellied-bubba from West Virginia, extensive political and sociological analyses of the 2016 vote revealed that Trump won every demographic of white voters: young, old, men, women, high-school dropouts and college educated.  It’s going to take more than rational economic plans to sway these voters away from Trump’s emotional, and not so subtly racist, appeal.

Democrats will also have to contend with their inter-generational contest for the nomination. At the debate, genXer Eric Swalwell was calling on the party to “pass the torch” to which boomer Joe Biden replied, “I’m holding on to the torch.”  Three of the top five polling candidates are septuagenarians and the top two would be eighty before their first terms ended, if elected.  Will the party get behind youth or experience, energy or understanding?  Both?

The 2020 electorate will be younger and more diverse than in previous elections.  The big question is, will they turn out?  We know that in the last presidential election a great deal of effort went into suppressing the votes of young people and people of color.  Russian trolls, using social media, tried to influence young black voters, in particular, telling them “it didn’t make any difference” who was elected so they might as well stay home.

For a Democrat to win in 2020, it’s a much safer bet to work to expand and excite the base than to try to peel away Trump voters.  The defining characteristic of these voters was not economic status, gender or educational attainment levels, but racial animus.  Fear of “loss” of the country to black people in the big cities and brown people crossing the border.  No amount of appeals to economic empowerment is going to overcome an irrational fear that latinos are coming to rape your wife and some black guy wants to knock-up your daughter.  That’s the kind of stuff peddled on news outlets they watch, and social media platforms they follow.

Revolution versus restoration.  Perhaps the winning vision is a bit of both.  Bold ideas to challenge racial, social and economic inequities and a more traditional “presidential demeanor” representing the best of our national character.  The promise of equality and opportunity.  The winners of the Democratic nomination for President and Vice President had better be able to make people “feel” like they will preside over an America that “speaks” to their need to “belong.”  That’s my winning ticket for 2020.

Staff Writer; Harry Sewell


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