“Survivor” — The 2020 Election

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The desire to impeach President Trump should be distinguished from the desirability of impeaching him. The only impeachment that has a chance of winning happens on Election Day, 2020; and as impatient as many people might be for that day to arrive post-haste, I am afraid that we must endure this imposter for another year and a half, during which he will no doubt cause permanent damage to the democratic process (such as it is) in the United States. If those who favor immediate impeachment have their way, they will only play into Trump’s hands, for I am certain he regards formal impeachment as his best means of rallying support. This is not to say that subpoenas should not be issued at a record pace. His financial affairs, especially involving the issue of emoluments, deserve extended congressional scrutiny, and I only wish that Congress was not in recess as the GOP holds its nominating convention in the last week of August, 2020.

Recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans plan to vote against Trump, but if he can convince a significant number of them not to vote at all, then he could well win another close election. The three states that decided the 2016 election had exceptionally small margins of victory for Trump, and those states are exactly where it will play out again. The Democrats must win Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in order to win the White House in 2020. If the upcoming presidential election depends on winning Ohio, then I assure you that Trump will indeed triumph again, even as George W. Bush secured re-election by winning that state in 2004. Ohio was almost as dubious in 2004, as Florida was four years earlier; but all that mattered was how the game played out in Ohio, and it was not in John Kerry’s favor.

Trump has long been regarded as the first “reality TV” president, but the 2020 presidential election brings to mind not “The Apprentice,” but rather an earlier prototype: “Survivor.” Just as Trump whittled away the GOP competition in mid-decade, he no doubt sees a similar set-up already in motion. A huge field of Democratic candidates has landed on the “island,” and Trump knows that his reelection depends on the Democratic party voters booting candidates off the island in a manner that leaves both party loyalists and independent voters deciding not to vote at all in November, 2020, instead of holding their noses and voting for someone they dislike.

Joe Biden, for example, is someone I intensely dislike. His entry into the race is not surprising. He’s a professional politician, and he wants his deathbed scene to be one in which he is assured by his family that he would have made a great president. I would just as soon not ever had him serve as a senator or vice-president. He is kind of political operative who epitomizes what Mike Davis calls the “barren marriage” of the working-class and the Democratic Party. If Obama proved to be as disappointing as a president, in direct ratio to the excitement he provoked as a candidate, then that disparity is precisely the reason that Biden is the probably the worst possible choice for the Democratic Party. Biden played a significant role in taming candidate Obama in the transition period to office-holder, and for nudging Obama in the wrong direction Biden should be allocated nothing less than our heart-felt opprobrium.

Since the election is a matter of the Electoral College outcome, one has to ask oneself if a left-wing candidate can secure at least 270 votes in the Electoral College. Two of the poet-bloggers I read on a regular basis (Brooks Roddan and Ron Silliman) have already announced that they favor Bernie Sanders, and I concede that I lean that way myself. However, I fear that Sanders will prove to be an even more inept administrator of his presidential duties than Jimmy Carter, and that his failure to bring about much needed reform will leave the electorate vulnerable to the machination of a variation of Ronald Reagan in 2024.

I have a hunch that Elizabeth Warren would actually prove to be much better at executing the office of the President of the United States, and that she would have a superior chance of being reelected in 2024. As such, I remain unwilling to endorse Sanders at this point. I would first like to see several debates in which no more than five Democratic candidates are given an opportunity to confront each others on policy preferences (for instance, let “Medicare for All” begin its first incremental growth by covering all children under the age of eight). There should be at least two sets of these five candidates on stage on any one occasion, and at least two of the candidates should be women. If Biden were one of the five, I would prefer to see Warren, Gillibrand, and Klobuchar on stage with him, with Pete Buttigieg being the fifth candidate. Biden deserves to learn what it feels like to be marginalized, and let it start with the debates.