The Democratic Party, all things considered, is in terrible shape.
Of all the things that must be considered about the current state of the Democratic Party, the fact that it is facing one of the most unpopular presidents of all time must be foremost.
President Donald J. Trump considered, 2020 should be a walk-on year for the Democratic Party. If indeed Trump is even half as incompetent and idiotic as Democrats and the press insist he is, Democrats should be in great shape.
James Carville is almost right that against Donald Trump, all Biden or any other Democratic candidate should have to do is stand there. Almost.
But the Democratic Party isn’t riding high on a wave of anti-Trump sentiment. The Democratic Party is not enjoying high approval ratings in contrast to Donald Trump’s, even in spite of a Democrat-friendly press.
The party that was leaderless and rudderless in the days and weeks after Donald Trump was elected President in 2016 seems trapped in a primal scream of rage and denial that has continued, pretty much unabated, in the months and years since. This has weakened the Democratic Party and misled its leaders down paths that did not end in removing Donald Trump from the Oval Office.
The Democratic Party’s reaction is understandable: Trump’s surprise victory was an upset hardly anyone saw coming, certainly no one in the Democratic Party.
The Hillary Clinton campaign in particular vastly underestimated Trump.
Pollsters, media personalities, and every newspaper from the New York Times on down were sure Clinton was about to become the first female president in United States history.
Even as the votes came pouring in for Donald Trump, these same authorities continued to make the fatal mistake of the Clinton campaign; they underestimated Donald Trump and overestimated Democrats.
That Clinton won the popular vote is immaterial; according to Democratic authorities it never even should have been that close.
Yet the Democratic Party and the press has continued to make that same mistake- underestimating Donald Trump and overestimating Democrats.
Which is how the Democratic Party began and ended the 2020 campaign primary season with Joe Biden.
Democrats have had three long years to work out a strategy for defeating Donald Trump in 2020. Party leaders have had three years to chose from a roster of promising Democrats the best one to take on Donald Trump.
But the Democratic Party didn’t do that. It isn’t hard to see why.
They underestimated Donald Trump. Again.
There is only one explanation for the complete breakdown in the primary process that delivered the Democratic Party to Joe Biden. It is the same reason the primary itself was such a mess, it is why Iowa couldn’t get its votes counted, it is why the party chose a candidate as uninspiring and unprepared as Joe Biden.
Democrats never thought they would have to face Donald Trump in November 2020.
Elected Democrats and their sympathizers in the press believed- and wholeheartedly from their wholehearted lack of a plan B.- that Stormy Daniels, or the emoluments clause, or Robert Mueller, or Ukraine, or even the 25th amendment would remove Trump long before November 2020.
That this hasn’t happened doesn’t just mystify Democrats and the press; many seem to still be laboring under the delusion that something may still save them from Donald Trump between now and November.
They overestimate Democrats- that some enterprising Democrat will succeed where so many have failed- and underestimate Donald Trump- that he will screw up so bad between now and November, Democrats will be able to remove his reelection bid.
Not understanding this, progressives in the Democratic Party just can’t seem to puzzle out exactly how Democrats ended up with Joe Biden, winnowed out from among more than a dozen candidates. Biden is so objectively weak, it makes Democrats look foolish to more than a few independent voters.
Does the Democratic Party really think Biden can win?
Nominating Joe Biden is not about beating Donald Trump. Democrats know Biden will lose to Trump in November. Biden at the top of the ticket has one purpose: Democrats keeping the House of Representatives.
The Democratic Party expects Biden to lose in November. But without Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket, Democrats hope to preserve their majority in the house.
It wasn't until Sen. Bernie Sanders looked likely to become the nominee that party elites coalesced around Biden. Biden alone could never have beaten Bernie Sanders. Sanders had the momentum, the grass-roots support and the excitement to cinch the nomination- which Biden never had.
The Biden campaign has limped along the entire campaign cycle. Biden could never have drummed up the kind of support he eventually started to enjoy without more than a little help from his friends.
But friends in high places aren’t everything.
That the Biden campaign lacks technical sophistication isn’t a secret. Biden’s online campaign arm was weak even before COVID-19. Now that the campaigns will largely have to be conducted online, Biden’s looks even shakier than ever.
And while Biden’s team is still figuring out how to Zoom conference call and looking for ways for Biden to connect with voters and donors online, the Trump campaign won the 2016 election on Facebook.
The Trump campaign was twice as sophisticated in 2016 as Joe Biden’s campaign is today.
Arrayed against Biden, the 2020 Trump campaign: The most sophisticated data-driven online marketing campaign in history. No campaign is prepared to take the fight online like the Trump campaign.
Meanwhile, Biden can barely figure out how to read from a teleprompter in his basement. His interviews are getting less and less coherent, even though the press continue to ignore Biden’s more controversial aspects.
Biden’s voting record is off-putting enough for progressive voters; but Biden is never challenged on it by media pundits and interviewers.
Nor is Biden asked about his son Hunter, who held a $50,000 a month board position with a Ukrainian energy consort while his father was the Obama administration’s point-man in Ukraine.
Biden has frequently lost his temper and behaved oddly on the campaign trail; no interviewers ask him about it.
Now, progressive voters may have reached their final straw with Joe Biden.
Biden has been accused of sexual assault by a former campaign staffer. While more than a few women have come forward during Biden’s candidacy to report that Biden touched them publicly in ways that made them uncomfortable, this is the first accusation he has faced of assault.
Now, this may be as good a time as any for the Democratic Party to return to the sensibilities of yesteryear, whereupon people accused of serious crimes would have the right to due process under the law, legal representation, the presumption of innocence, and trial by a jury of one’s peers.
(Albeit, with some changes to the legal system designed to make reporting and prosecuting sexual assault easier and more accessible for victims and their families.)
But, the mainstream media’s complete failure to report about this story- at all- as the 10 days since the accusation was first made publicly have ticked by speaks volumes to Bernie Sanders supporters.
“We feel the Bern,” goes one Twitter meme: “The Bern doesn’t feel us.”
Besides Trump, the Democratic Party is making another crucial underestimation: Progressive voters. Elite Democrats are overly concerned that Bernie Sanders at the top of the Democratic ticket will frighten away too many moderate voters and Democrats won’t be able to hold onto their tenuous majority in the House.
The Democratic Party needs to start being concerned that fewer progressives will be able to bring themselves to vote for Joe Biden than voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Joe Biden is not the best the Democratic Party can do. Party elites may be prepared to cut their losses for the sake of a dubious plot to keep the House.
Progressive voters may not be.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)