Democrats and 2020: Who Will Win?

“You can have your own opinions, not your own facts” - Thomas Jefferson. This seems to be the paragonal line to describe the last two years of President Trump’s administration. From adult film star scandals, government shutdowns, and name calling- an outsider looking in may look at this is a circus themed reality TV show that the Kardashians can’t even live up to. Donald Trump’s shocking win during the 2016 election was a rude awakening to the Democrats (as well as to the rest of the country).  Quickly, the Democrats realized they needed to saddle up, marinate in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s energy, and move forward. The past few years have given the Democrats their fair share of ups and down, and although they were successfully able to flip the House of Representatives during the 2018 Midterm elections, will they be able to sustain that momentum until 2020? The line of Dems wanting to take the President head-on seems to exponentially increase every minute.  So far the crowd includes Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Julian Castro, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang. This list does not even include the largely favored Joe Biden, who still has not decided if he wants to join the mob of Dems wanting to take their shot for the White House. So, who will the nomination? Many will claim that our government is dysfunctional, and the Dems will definitely address that time after time, but can they create an agenda that does not revolve around an anti-Trump rhetoric?  And if they do, will it serve in their favor? “Democrats can’t really avoid making comparisons with President Trump. However, they will need to emphasize that they are ready to take action on the many problems that our dysfunctional government has not been able to address really stretching back to George W. Bush’s second term. That will include an awful lot of unaddressed business: the opioid crisis, the sustainability of the social safety net, economic inequality, infrastructure, and the list goes on,” says Dr. Brian Klunk of Pacific’s Political Science Department. Going into 2020, Dr. Klunk also added that the Democrats definitely have some advantages and disadvantages in their field. First of all, “ President Trump has been a historically unpopular president. Two, the 2018 congressional elections indicate that Democrats may be able to recapture states like Michigan and Pennsylvania that President Trump won in 2016 and that Democrats may be more competitive in states like Arizona and Georgia,” he added. But, this does not mean that President Trump does not have advantages in some areas. For starters he has been campaigning since the day he won the election. “Their disadvantage is that President Trump has a two-year head start, which will be a three-year head start by the time a Democratic front runner emerges. He literally opened his re-election campaign on the day he was inaugurated. He will have a big advantage in fundraising. He will also have a head start in waging a negative campaign against whichever Democrat seems to be gathering momentum in winning the nomination,” added Dr. Klunk. Young people are very energized due to the outcome of the 2016 election and certain decisions made during President Trump’s administration. There will be many issues that will make or break a candidate, which will include immigration reform, healthcare, etc. But, are there certain issues that young people will seem to focus on more than other? Dr. Klunk seems to think so. “Of course, the most important issue for young people is climate change. At some point, government in the United States will have to get serious not just about how to mitigate the rise in temperature around the world but also how to adapt to the serious problems that we already see as a result of climate change. In addition, questions about economic development—how will we modernize infrastructure, how will we deal with the many economic (and social) issues that have risen and are on the horizon given developments in information, computing, biotechnology, and so on. As a student of international relations, I think young people should also be concerned about how the United States reimagines its role in a world in which China, India, and others take on important leading roles. “ So, will there be a leading contender? Will there be a certain candidate that people will favor more than other? According to Vox news, a recent poll put former vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, a candidate who has not even declared he is running, ahead of the other contestants. He is followed by Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Beto O’Rourke in that order. “In some sense, Vice President Biden is obviously the most qualified. He has a lifetime of experience and has demonstrated some success in being able not just to make policy proposals but to move them through Congress. He is also the one person best positioned to repair the damage that President Trump has done to US relations with almost every country in the world,” says Klunk. However, millennials and first time voters may look for a candidate that is younger, and speaks more towards their generation. “Biden does not have the ability to speak to the future that Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and others may have. Harris and O’Rourke (and perhaps others) may be better able to keep together the factions we see developing within the Democratic Party than more clearly defined center-left candidates (Biden, Klobuchar, Booker) or the social democratic candidates (Sanders, Warren, etc.). Unfortunately, only time will tell who will win the Democratic nomination and who will win the title of Commander in Chief in 2021. But, in light of all the chaos, let’s just be thankful that Kanye West is not running for president.