Memo To Dems: You’re Not Running Against Mitt Romney

It’s time I got a few things off my chest. I am not jaded, I am not cynical, and I am not a sellout. What I am is a pragmatist who lives in the suburbs. And I’m here to tell you that the same voters who gave Democrats their majority in the House in 2018 also put Trump in the White House in 2016. And they did not become liberals in the span of two years, nor are they likely to become liberals over the next 15 months. They are primarily centrists; that is to say they are slightly left of center on some issues and slightly right of center on others. 

Healthcare is important to them, but a majority do not support Medicare for All. They want the roads and bridges fixed so they can travel back and forth to work without having to worry about potholes. They care about the environment and believe global warming is real, but consider the Green New Deal to be an overreach. They are outraged at the images of children being separated from their parents at the border, yet are equally appalled to learn that virtually every Democratic candidate for president is in favor of giving people who enter this country illegally free healthcare when many of them can barely afford it themselves.

It’s important to understand that these voters, for the most part, are not racists. In fact, a lot of them think Trump has embarrassed himself and diminished the office he holds. They are people who are looking for an excuse to not vote for him, but are weary of voting for a Democrat. Joe Biden could be that Democrat who eases their concerns about voting blue in 2020. I can tell you from living here most of my life that, as of now, virtually none of the remaining candidates, with the possible exception of Amy Klobuchar, has a chance of winning in the suburbs. None! Not Harris, not Warren and not Sanders. In fact, it is entirely possible that a Warren – Sanders ticket could cost Democrats the House. As we speak, Tom Suozzi, a two-term congressman from New York’s 3rd District, is facing a primary challenge because he’s not “pure” enough for the base. If that challenge proves successful, the Republicans will flip the district next year, you can count on it.

Look, I get it, Biden doesn’t excite many of you, but the comparisons to Hillary are way overblown. She was a flawed candidate who ran a lousy campaign. While Biden has been a gaffe machine, so far he has managed to run a pretty effective campaign. Think about it: despite a subpar performance in his first debate and a so-so one in his second, Biden is still leading in the polls, both for the nomination and in head to head matchups against Trump. And though his message may not be appealing to most progressives, it is nonetheless resonating in the very part of the country that Democrats got their butts kicked in 2016. 

While most of the energy in the Party is on the Left, virtually all of it comes via Twitter and Facebook. The problem with social media is that is has allowed progressives and conservatives alike to exist inside their own respective bubbles; bubbles that rarely, if ever, allow for opposing viewpoints and only serve to reinforce their own preconceived notions. Democrats are playing a dangerous game if they think they can “educate” voters to support policies that aren’t popular. Take it from a salesman with almost a quarter century of experience under his belt: such tactics tend to turn people off because they rightly come across as arrogant and elitist.

Let’s get something straight: I do not love Joe Biden. Know who I love? I love my wife, I love my dog and cats, and I love my family. Above all else, I love my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Know who I detest? That’s right, Trump. And if takes a 76 year old former senator and former vice president to Barack Obama to make him a one term president, I’ll gladly vote for him, gaffes and all. Hell, I’d vote for toaster oven over Trump.

This isn’t 2012, people. We are not running against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. This will NOT be an issues-driven campaign; it will be a culture-driven campaign. Trump will make sure of that. He will move heaven and earth to rile up his base in an attempt to scare the shit out of them as well as the rest of the country. It’s the only way he can win reelection. If you thought 2018 was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

To beat him, Democrats must do two things. First, they must convince a majority of the electorate that he is unfit, morally and intellectually, for the job; second, they must avoid getting caught in the weeds with nuanced arguments for bold proposals that most of them know in their hearts will never be enacted, and in a general election, can easily be used against them. 

Given the Party’s history, I can assure you the latter will prove to be a far greater challenge.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.