Fred LaSor: Kicking off the 2020 campaign season early
The presidential election of 2020 is still 20 months away, but Democratic Party candidates who want to make themselves known to American voters are announcing their candidacy and traveling to early primary states, including Nevada, to test their campaign themes in front of actual voters.
Meanwhile, the recent conclusion of the Mueller investigation finding no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has changed the political equation a little, as Russian collusion was a large part of the Democratic Party narrative for more than two years and that narrative is now severely damaged. It’s clearly time for Democratic candidates to find new issues they can use to convince voters they’re a better choice in the next election.
Someone asked me at lunch recently what I thought a good campaign strategy would be for the Democrats. I said that was easy — tell the country what their vision is for a better economy, for resolution of the unchecked immigration influx at the southern border, and for addressing health care. These issues, after all, poll highest with voters of both parties. Climate change and late term abortion don’t.
I said I thought a good start would be for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a budget and get away from funding government by Continuing Resolution. And right after that, I said, the House should address immigration reform. We owe that to the American people, and we should also make it clear to people who are walking north from villages all over Central America just what to expect when they arrive at our southern border.
The lunch table laughed at my suggestions — they expected Democrats to focus on an entirely different and more radical agenda: lowering the voting age to 16 increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court (“packing the court”), doing away with the Electoral College, making antisemitism acceptable, legalizing the vote for immigrants, pushing a “Green New Deal,” and legalizing abortion after birth — in short, issues of marginal interest to most of America’s voters, but issues that have consumed the new Congress in its first two months in office.
These issues resonate with the more extreme wing of the Democratic Party, whose party leadership indicates it would rather pursue many small, committed constituencies, no matter how radical they are, than appeal to the nation as a whole. Lowering the voting age, giving the vote to immigrants, and packing the Supreme Court are winners with these narrow interest groups. For a long time, attacking President Trump looked like another winner with the Democrat Party faithful — until, that is, delivery of the Mueller investigation.
The big winner after the Mueller investigation was delivered was not President Trump — the big winner was the American people, who learned their president didn’t collude with the Russians. This revelation flies in the face of two years’ representation to the contrary by cable and newspaper pundits. The big losers now are the journalists who showed their extreme bias, and the former directors of the CIA and FBI, who have been pushing the Russia collusion lie for two years.
Regular readers of my columns know I’ve been critical of the CIA and FBI since before Trump’s election. This was largely because of politicization at the top levels of those intelligence agencies, best demonstrated by the regular presence on cable news of the former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and ex-CIA Director John Brennan.
It would be nice to get back to a semblance of normalcy now that the Mueller investigation has been delivered. But the kickoff of the campaign season will probably end any hope of that happening.
Fred LaSor follows national elections with rapt interest every two years.