Thoughts on the 2020 election: which democratic candidate?
October 13, 2019
art by Gabe Antoine
The changing atmosphere of the 2020 election
After nearly three years since the election of Donald Trump for President, the country has drastically changed. Not only have violences such as school shootings and rates of white supremacist hate crimes shot up, but in response to these, the country has moved farther to the left in its political goals.
In the 2016 election, discussions of Medicare for All and debt-free college seemed like utopian ideals that were far too radical. A couple of years ago, it could have been a stretch to say that a progressive candidate could win, let alone receive the primary nomination. That’s most likely because the ideas seemed very new to the political frontier and in an election where moderates held most of the power, they couldn’t reach key bases. However, both are now looking possible and even likely.
Contrary to the 2016 election, the 2020 Democratic candidates have mostly all taken on a platform that endorses previously Bernie-centric promises. These changing times elucidate that the Democratic Party and younger progressive voices are finally getting a say in influencing politics. Issues such a Medicare, climate change, race, and economics for working class Americans are working to unite the foundation of the Democratic Party.
Though it is still very early in the campaign trail, the polls are looking hopeful for candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who are appealing to working class voting bases. Voting blocs are one of the most important components of a candidate’s strategy. Without isolating important voting blocs, a candidate could never build enough support to win the election. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, the demographic for black voting rates dropped for the first time in 20 years. Contrary from previous elections when Barack Obama was on the ballot, the 2016 election failed to connect with key black voting groups, one of the main pitfalls of Hilary Clinton’s campaign.
I present this statistic to point out the importance of minority voters for the Democratic Party. Being able to address issues and promote policies that discuss economic and racial equality is extremely important, not just to create a more equitable society, but to increase the likelihood of a progressive Democrat winning the election. Although most of the candidates aren’t doing enough now to address racialized violence, pushing harder for reform and equality would push them closer to winning the election.
The election isn’t just different because of the leftward shift, but because of unfulfilled promises. Trump’s campaign path was littered with tales of all the changes he would make. After almost one term, few of his promises have amounted to much. Particularly, this can be seen in the impending economy.
According to CBS Trump’s belligerent trade war with China has put many economists on high alert for an impending recession. Because of the trade war increasing tensions with China, they have substantiated that they will no longer purchase categories of American goods such as agriculture, a practice that is having negative consequences for Trump’s voting blocs in rural America. The fracturing of the Trump campaign with agricultural interests was seen in an August poll from Morning Consult where Trump’s rating in Iowa was down 9 points, a dangerous place for a previously Trump-friendly state.
If Democrats can appeal to small farmers then they could gain a significant advantage over Trump in the 2020 elections. While some Progressives, such as Warren or Sanders, agree with the restrictions on trade, they are also pushing for more reforms to break down big Agriculture and improve the lives of everyday farmers in America. This balance is crucial to be able to offer an offset to the problems the trade war has created for this important industry.
The outlook for Progressives in the upcoming presidential election is uncertain, but the election of a more left directed candidate is possible if they target the right voting blocs and policies. Its critical that Progressives appeal to minorities and continue to push for policies that would benefit everyday people.
As a proud Ravenclaw, avid reader, and coffee addict, it is no doubt that staff writer Kyra Bergerud has a notable presence at EHS as a nerd. Hovering...
Sometimes a progressive step forward is a backpedal in election season
In any presidential election, if a candidate wants to win, there are steps that must be taken. The candidate must first capture their base, then their party’s support. The candidate usually completes this first step when they win their party’s primary and nomination for president. However, if the candidate really wants to win the presidency, they must not only capture their party’s support, but the support of the moderates, independents, and sometimes even members of their opponent’s party. If they can’t win without the states that matter in an election—the swing states Iowa, Colorado, and Michigan—the candidate won’t win the presidency.
When a candidate comes onto the scene with ideas that sit at the far sides of the political spectrum with their policy issues, whether it is a far-left liberal or a far-right conservative, their strong policies risk alienating members of their own party. The resultant is an increase of party members simply abstaining from going to the polls on election day, a surge of support for third party candidates, and in some cases, party members voting for the opposition. Even more common than alienating your own party is pushing away those who lie in the middle—the independents—those with no strong party ties. These are also the types of voters who may lean away from a candidate simply on a disagreement over a few policy points. These types of voters are the ones that can win or lose a candidate an elections even more than a candidate’s party’s base. This is the last thing the Democrats need in 2020 if they want to defeat Trump.
These are the types of candidates we have as front runners in the Democratic primary according to the polls, and that scares me.
Don’t get dissuaded; many Americans, myself included, favor more progressive policies, but the fact is that at this juncture we are living with a monster in the White House and the exterminator isn’t Andrew Yang riding the tide of Universal Basic Income. What will get us out of this situation is realistic policy that fits into today’s political climate, the kind of policy that’s easy to swallow for Democrats and independents alike.
There exists a well-documented trend among political candidates once they leave the primaries, secure their party’s nomination, and enter into the general election: they tend to become more moderate, tone down some of their more outside ideas to something that an Iowan farmer can digest. While sure, this may in theory help a more progressive candidate do better in the general election, we live in a digital world where anything that a candidate says, whether it be while trying to rally their blue state base in their hometown or in a battle cry of a tweet, that Iowan farmer will remember those things, will remember the candidates’ real policies. So, when the candidate dawns their “moderate” general election facade, that’s not enough to get the vote of the Iowan farmer who didn’t like what they said about healthcare for undocumented immigrants in the primaries. And these progressive candidates will lose a lot more votes than just that one farmer if they keep pushing for these far-left ideas.
A progressive may shore up a Democratic win in states like California, but a Democrat winning California is about as uneventful as a full moon. For the Democratic nominee for president to defeat Donald Trump, they need to appeal to voters that a progressive would appeal to once in a blue moon. When a candidate takes strong progressive stances, they may secure the votes on the far left, but that’s not where the majority of voters lie. These Democratic candidates need to appeal to the middle, or at least make themselves easier to stomach to the middle than Donald Trump. A progressive would not accomplish this feat.
Hans Janovy Meyer (not Hands Janhovy Maye) is a junior and writer for Zephyrus. Perhaps his greatest achievement in life being able to reach high things....