Bad Advice from Rick Wilson

In a recent New York Daily News opinion piece, Rick Wilson claims:

That’s why the Democrats have two options for the 2020 presidental race: Make the race a referendum on Trump and Trumpism, or lose.

No. No those are not the two choices the Democrats face. This is not even remotely true.

The Democrats already have had an election where they campaigned as a referendum on Trump and Trumpism: the 2016 presidential election. That was most of Hillary Clinton’s platform: being the Not Trump candidate. And we all know how well that worked out.

Moreover, opposition parties facing authoritarian movements have generally failed when they campaign on the “at least we’re not them” platform. It’s what doomed the opposition for decades in Venezuela and Italy. They campaigned on being Not Chávez and Not Berlusconi in multiple elections… and lost every one.

It was only when the opposition changed their campaign tactic to “what we can do better for you” that their fortunes changed.

Ignore the Not Trump line. Everyone interested in voting Trump out already knows that means voting for the Democrats in 2020. The Democrats have an absolute lock on the Not Trump vote; as such, any additional effort focused on this sales tactic is wasted.

Look, I get it: Rick is a conservative. For him, personally, about the only thing good about the Democrats is that they are Not Trump. He’s not enthused about any of their other policies. He’s not looking forward to holding his nose and voting for a Democrat. But hold his nose and vote Democrat he will.

One of the greatest errors in thinking one can make is to extrapolate one’s own beliefs onto others. For millions of Americans, Trump is not so abjectly repugnant as he is to Wilson (or, for that matter, yours truly). Yes, it would be a great thing if he was: Trump would have never been elected. But wishing something were so does not make it so.

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