Monday, April 29, 2019


Donald Trump is on the ropes, the least popular president in the history of polling over the first years of his term, and, by some measures, he seems almost certain to be defeated in 2020 by any decent Democratic candidate.

And yet, if two stories in The New York Times are any indication, Democratic voters believe that the odds are against them. They believe they must nominate Joe Biden in order to appease white working class swing voters, and they dare not breathe a word about impeachment for fear of arousing the Trump base.

The first story is from Pennsylvania:
Kerry Chester, 53, a network engineer working at his laptop, said he voted for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the 2016 Pennsylvania primary. But for 2020 he thinks it is so important to defeat Mr. Trump that Mr. Biden is preferable, even compared to the two top African-American candidates, Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

“I’m going to be completely honest: I think with the country going the way it is, I think we’re kind of safer on the Democratic side going with a white male right now,” he said....

Electability is the argument that consumes suburban Democrats.

It has led voters like [Barbara] Zimmt [a fund-raiser and volunteer for the library in the suburb of Upper St. Clair] — even though she would love to see a woman as president — to land on Mr. Biden. “I guess it would be Biden at this point, because I think he can win,” she said.

“I think a lot of people are scared of the progressives,” said Sarah Tannenbaum, 35, a part-time accountant in Upper St. Clair. “Someone more moderate will have a better chance of defeating Trump.”
And there's this, from Democratic town halls across the country:
“I believe that Congress should not pursue impeachment, and I say this as someone who deeply loathes the president and absolutely believes he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors,” Joshua Thaler, 45, said as he ducked out of [a] forum [in South Philadelphia]. “It keeps the conversation on Trump rather than on our agenda.”

... Mr. Trump’s attempts to thwart Mr. Mueller’s investigators and Congress were “not right,” [Wilbur] Bell said [at a town hall in Miami], but he said of the president, “He likes a fight, so if you try to fight him, you’re playing in his field.”

... In Carlsbad, [California,] where dozens of people gathered at a senior center on Wednesday evening ... [Congressman Mike] Levin brought up the Mueller report in his opening remarks, stating to applause that he believed Mr. Trump had obstructed justice.

But the only questioner who mentioned impeachment outright told Mr. Levin she was worried that a drive to oust the president would backfire and allow Mr. Trump to play the victim in the 2020 presidential election.

“He will rally his base, and we won’t have an opportunity for our candidates to talk about the issues because all the air will be sucked out and focused on him once again,” she said.

... Peggy Bradin Wilson, 66, a retired federal employee and a leader of Indivisible in Delaware County, Pa., [said] that impeachment proceedings could “inflame his base and bite us in the end.”
It ought to be possible to investigate and even impeach a very unpopular president who's widely seen as a liar without inflaming his base -- how much more fired up can they be than they are now? And it ought to be possible to nominate any number of Democrats and win an election against a man the majority of Americans want out of office.

But Democratic voters seem to have internalized a fear of the vengeful, all-powerful Trump base, and of white working class swing voters who'll go GOP given any excuse. They're resigned to Biden even though:

I fall for this, too. I worry that Trump could win another election with 45% of the vote, because of the Electoral College or third-party candidates, especially Howard Schultz, siphoning off a significant portion of the anti-Trump vote.

But sometimes the timidity gets to be too much. It reinforces the sense that Trump really is a strongman. That might help him more than trying to work the angles to sidestep what appear to be his strengths.

We need to be sensible -- but I think we need to be less afraid of our shadows. Stop being so cowardly. He's not well liked.

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