by James Wallace Harris, Monday, July 1, 2019
The 2020 election will be a referendum for a single issue, we just don’t know what that issue is yet. If Bernie Sanders or Elizebeth Warren get the nomination the referendum will be:
- Vote Yes for Medicare-for-All
- Vote No for Medicare-for-All
Right now, the Democrats think it will be:
- Vote Yes for Trump
- Vote No for Trump
Every Democrat in the debates offered a freebie as if they could buy voters. But that’s not going to work. Free education or forgiveness of college loans will only appeal to a fraction of the voters, so it won’t work as a clear decisive referendum. Medicare-for-All would affect every voter, that’s why it’s possible referendum question.
The Democrats could pick a vital issue and make a stand, for example:
- Vote Yes to Stop Climate Change
- Vote No to Keep Doing Nothing
Which would essentially be a referendum that says:
- Save the future
- Fuck the future
But I think the Democrats are afraid to commit to such an issue. To save the future would require sacrifice and we aren’t the Greatest Generation. We’re the Greed Generation.
Bernie Sanders wants Medicare-for-All. It’s logical. It would eventually save money. It’s pro-equality. And it’s egalitarian. But it’s not a critical issue to the future. The future doesn’t depend on equality of medical care. Only those issues that will destroy us in the future are universally applicable. Of course, the issue of climate change is global, so our greed affects a lot of people who can’t vote in the U.S. 2020 election.
Donald Trump and his flock have decided the referendum is:
- It’s every person for themselves
- The parable of the fishes and loaves
I expect the Republicans to find ways to spread their “Think Selfish” philosophy to all voters, even to voters who never voted Republican before. I find it rather ironic that Republicans live by a Darwinian philosophy. They say they’re Christian, but they live by survival-of-the-fittest — and let the weak die.
Politics is not logical. I keep thinking we should be logical, but it’s much easier to be selfish. Not that I’m a saint. I’m quite selfish. I just think we should be logical just enough to avoid self-destruction. You’d think that would be considered a healthy kind of selfishness. But it’s like that psychological experiment where they offered kids a choice between a cookie they could eat now or two cookies if they waited for fifteen minutes. Most kids took the immediate cookie.
9 thoughts on “The 2020 Election Will Be A Referendum”
It seems for a majority of Democrats, at least from more recent polls, is that it’s really about nominating a candidate that will win the general election. Issues are of least importance because all of that will sort its self out after the Democratic nominee is elected. Unless the party nominates someone who can win. The rest doesn’t matter. It would be another 4 years of Trump which is the one issue that all can agree on.
Remember candidates run in general elections for 3 reasons:
1) Promote their brand,…the process is an opportunity to gain national exposure for a future run (i.e. they are not in it to win because they do not believe they can this time around)
2) Similar to the first reason, they are really campaigning for their own re-election at the local level
3) They believe they can win
Only Biden really thinks he can win. Warren and Harris will entertain the possibility in their own minds but realistically they know their chances are slim at best. Bernie is in it for the fight, because he believes it is truly unacceptable that the richest most prosperous nation on earth does not have some form of universal health care for all citizens. His legacy is tied to the hope that he will see universal health care enacted on a federal basis before he dies.
The whole process leading up to the primaries is a ‘show trial’ My guess is that a majority of voters have already decided that good or bad Biden is the only candidate with the greatest chance to end the rule of Trump. In the meantime can Biden’s reputation endure the withering fire from within. In the end barring some catastrophic revelation Biden will receive the nomination.
From a voting perspective, Biden represents a conservative stance tinged with a restrained record of progressive thinking and action. This position in total is very appealing to a war weary electorate. More importantly he represents an appealing alternative to conservative moderate Republicans who are tired of trying to fit Trump into their world view of how a true conservative should behave! The beauty is that more progressive left leaning Democrats have no other choice but to vote for Biden, even if he’s not their pick, because the alternative is 4 more years, which in turn is a far worse outcome.
I accept your logic about Biden, and that might be what happens, however, there are some problems. Biden is too old, and it’s starting to show. He even seems to be slightly doddering. I’m not sure he can go the distance. I wish there was a Biden-like candidate that was 20 years younger. However, if the election was a choice between a nice old man and a crazy old man Biden might still win.
There’s another problem though with Biden. Democrats will vote Democrat, and Republicans will vote Republican, but two other groups really determine the election: independents and non-voters. Independents generally look for a game-changer. So Biden won’t appeal to them.
I doubt many young people will want to vote for Biden. One reason they don’t vote now is they feel disenfranchised from the whole political process. Young people know what we need but they won’t do what it takes to get involved with politics. It’s their future that’s at stake. I was hoping a younger candidate would inspire younger Americans to get out there and vote – to fight for their future.
I agree with the age ‘problem’ for Biden. The campaign process places a huge demand on heart and soul. I would place his risk to health in my ‘Catastrophic revelation ‘ category. If it becomes apparent that he’s just not up to the grind, and is forced to resign from the process, than that event becomes, as you say, as a game changer
As for your concern for independents and non voters, I don’t see a real issue here. Assuming Biden makes it to the convention. Independents will still choose between 4 more years, and Biden, and my guess is that a majority of independents, and to some degree, true Republicans (who would opt for a conservative in Biden as opposed to a populist in Trump) would cast in favor of Biden as the lessor of two evils so to speak…
Young voters are the fickle ones to be sure, and yes I agree they are certainly looking for an explicitly progressive candidate, however as a voting force they are relatively small when compared to the loyal and dutiful voters of the baby boomer class. In any case, the ones that do vote in the general election, as I indicated, will have no choice at that point. Young or casual voter’s will not amount to any significant voting block in the primaries so it becomes a non-issue in the final analysis. The thing to keep in mind is that the popular vote in total is not in jeopardy. The Democrats had the majority in 2016 and there is no reason to think that won’t be the case in 2020. The real ‘vote’ is in the electoral college, and so far Biden has the lead in virtually all swing states.
So getting back to Biden himself. Can he stay healthy enough, and avoid the miss-steps, and any damaging reveals over the next 8 months till Super Tuesday? These questions are the real election story in 2020.
If Biden is not up to the task, then the Democratic side will devolve into internecine warfare of the most spectacular kind. We might get our truly progressive candidate in the end, however will there be enough progressive voters in all of America to offset the status quo. That’s the risk, and that’s why Biden is the safe vote, and the best chance to unseat the ‘king’.
It seemed to me that some of the candidates in the debate that I can’t remember their names had moderate responses. They might succeed still.
If everyone voted things would be very different.
But we should also remember that Trump and the Republicans are very popular with a large segment of the population. That Trump is an incumbent with a good economy. By past trends, he should win.
“[Biden] represents an appealing alternative to conservative moderate Republicans who are tired of trying to fit Trump into their world view of how a true conservative should behave! The beauty is that more progressive left leaning Democrats have no other choice but to vote for Biden, even if he’s not their pick, because the alternative is 4 more years, which in turn is a far worse outcome.”
Uh-huh. Now where have I heard those exact sentiments before… oh yeah, in 2016 just before a bunch of us decided to exercise other options in spite of your opinion that “there is no alternative”. Meanwhile poll after poll both before and after that election indicated that Sanders would have beaten Trump handily while Hillary was at best within the margin of error. Biden has already lost two presidential bids but hey, why not go for three? I’m beginning to believe that “centrism” is more of a religion than a political position.
I’m not sure that Bernie has ever believed he actually had/has a shot at the Dem nomination (he must know how the DNC operates). But he unexpectedly found himself marching in front of a gigantic crowd. That crowd hasn’t diminished nor gone away either, because nothing has changed for the better. Well except that the Clinton family has had their power diminished, which is an unalloyed good.
If I had my druthers, I’d want Bernie or Warren to win the nomination. Both have spent a lot of time thinking about the changes we need to make. And sometimes I believe we should pick them even if we don’t think they can’t win against Trump. I regret now voting for Hillary in the primary back in 2016. I thought I was voting for the candidate that could win rather than the one I wanted.
In 2016 no one knew what to expect from Trump,so some were willing to give him a shot in spite of their best instincts. A decision made easier of course because Hillary was just not turning the crank of those on the fence.
Biden is not much of an upgrade (if it all), however after the past 4 years folks are a less likely to make a conscious decision in favor of the incumbent when Biden offers a safe bet from the madness (assuming he makes it to the finish line) If he is elected, the progressives will at least have a fighting chance to forward an agenda and start the process. The alternative is stalemate for 4 more years.
Everybody on the left side of the party loves Bernie. You have to admire his tenacity. His legacy is safe as the guy who would not quit
But will Biden be the Hillary of 2020? I’d prefer him over Trump, and I agree with you that he appears to be the safe bet, but he isn’t what I want.
I’m of the same mind as you James. Unfortunately expediency wins over my heart. I would love to see a truly forward thinking candidate who see’s the common good as the path to shared prosperity for all. However the first task at hand is to unseat the incumbent. I just don’t think a true progressive can win a one on one with Trump, and that is to big a risk. The trade off is a democratic white house with a President who is open to progressive ideas which Biden is