Buckle up, it’s going to be a wild ride.
I speak of the cattle call of Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for president, and the chance to go to war with the Tweeter-in-Chief. President Trump can’t get along with anyone. He has viciously attacked, insulted, maligned, and scolded one public official after another — and that’s just in his own cabinet.
We’re at the one-year mark until the Iowa Caucuses, which are scheduled to be held next February. Then comes New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — and the rest.
What is now a cloudy picture will become clearer in time. Already, seven Democrats have declared that they’re running for president — former San Antonio mayor and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, Reps. John Delaney of Maryland and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. Another Democrat — Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts— is expected to enter the race at the end of this week.
And, over the next few weeks and months, another half dozen major Democratic candidates could enter the fray. They could include a governor, a few more senators, and even a former vice president. Big names like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders could soon join the lineup.
Why, the entry requirements are so lax for Democratic presidential hopefuls in 2020 that, in addition to all those Alphas, there may even be a “Beto.” Robert Francis O’Rourke — a former congressman from El Paso who recently confessed to a reporter that he doesn’t know what the United States should do about illegal immigrants and whose major accomplishment to date is managing to lose a Texas senate race against a highly unlikable opponent despite raising more than $80 million — may also jump into the race.
O’Rourke speaks Spanish, loves Mexican food, and doesn’t mind it at all that a lot of folks in the Southwest think the Irishman is really Mexican. He’ll be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in Times Square this week for her podcast, and he has the endorsement of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
O’Malley is backing O’Rourke. Oh, great! No “identity politics” there. The label doesn’t apply when white people practice it, apparently.
And the craziness is just beginning.
Castro is a Mexican-American who has been accused of “acting white.” O’Rourke is more of an American-Mexican who gets votes by acting Latino.
Also, 2020 is shaping up to be The Year of the Woman for Democrats. There are already three — and perhaps soon to be four — women in the race, with a couple more likely to enter.
That’s a far cry, and a giant step forward, from the Democratic primary election in 2016 when Hillary Clinton defeated four men: Sanders, O’Malley, former Sen. James Webb of Virginia, and former Sen. Lincoln Chaffee.
Trump has a reputation for trying to intimidate women — Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Megyn Kelly, Nancy Pelosi, Mika Brzezinski, Miss Venezuela, etc. Well, Trump’s bullying is obviously not working with Democratic women vying for president in 2020. They’re not the least bit intimidated. This will be fun to watch.
Not so much for Democrats is the fact that the party is taking a hard-left turn on abortion, taxes, health care, Medicare, and more. With every radical proposal, it becomes harder for Democratic presidential candidates to stay in the middle of the road. In fact, that is where the opportunity seems to be: in the sensible center. Will we see a moderate Democrat emerge in this campaign, as an alternative to the progressives on the far left? We can hope.
Interesting fact: the Democratic Party is not drifting left on immigration and racial issues, which tells us they may be skittish about frightening off the white voters they will need to carry the critical four states in the Rust Belt that helped deliver the White House to Trump in 2016: Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
Lastly, what do Democrats do about Trump? That is, it may not be enough to simply run against him and paint the usual doom-and-gloom picture of present-day life in America. A lot of Americans seem to be quite content with Trump, his policies, his demeanor, his passion, and the fact that he tries to keep his promises — even the crazy ones.
There is a lot going wrong in the country, no doubt. We seem to be more divided than ever, for one thing. Trump should be held accountable for widening the divide.
But there is also a lot of good news, including record low unemployment and the re-examining of trade deals and old alliances that needed revamping. Trump deserves credit for what he has done right.
How can Democrats do both those things at once?
Stay tuned. This wild ride is just getting started.
Ruben Navarrette is a contributing editor to Angelus and a syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group and a columnist for the Daily Beast. He is a radio host, a frequent guest analyst on cable news, and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors and host of the podcast “Navarrette Nation.” Among his books are “A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano.”
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