Tuesday, July 24, 2018


I don't want to address all the arguments made in the latest David Brooks column, which offers advice for the Democrats going into the 2020 presidential election. (You will no doubt be shocked to learn that Brooks advises Democrats to avoid socialism and fervent calls for racial justice.) I just want to quote one of his concluding paragraphs, and then talk about only part of that paragraph:
If I had to advise on a Democratic narrative I’d start with three premises: First, by 2020 everybody will be exhausted by the climate of negativism and hostility. Second, the core long-term fear is American decline; are we losing our mojo? Third, communities and nations don’t come together when they talk about their problems; they come together when they do something on behalf of their children.
(Emphasis added.)

Really? We're back to believing that "the fever" will surely break soon?

Barack Obama thought "the fever" would break after the 2012 election. It didn't. Four years later, Republicans (with help from Putin, Comey, and an email-obsessed mainstream media) got the living embodiment of the fever elected president, while driving Fox News even further into the fever swamp and elevating other febrile media outlets to near-mainstream status. At this point, the fever is Republicanism, and it appears that at least 40% of the public has caught an incurable case of it.

It's true that by 2020 some Americans "will be exhausted by the climate of negativism and hostility" -- many have felt that way since early 2017, if not earlier. Democrats need to find a candidate who can give those voters a sense that we'll soon enter into a post-hostility era. The 2020 Democratic candidate will have a tough challenge: appeal to the hostility-averse while also being tough enough to compete with the most hostile presidential candidate of all time. I don't know which aspirant can do both.

As a candidate in 2016 and as president now, Donald Trump hasn't found it necessary to claim that he wants to bring us together because his electorate doesn't believe non-conservatives are Americans. They'd been negative and hostile for years before he came along.

Trump's 2020 opponent will be at a disadvantage. Niceness and toughness will be required of that candidate. And once the election is over, no matter who wins, the hostility won't abate much at all. Many of us probably won't live to see the fever break.


UPDATE: In responding to this column, I didn't dig deep, but Yastreblyansky did. Go read.

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