I hate to say it, but Tuesday night’s debate underscored just how good Trump’s chances are in 2020, assuming his term doesn’t end early.
Sanders and Warren
First, you had Sanders and particularly Warren evading the hard questions on single-payer health care. They’re liable to get eaten alive in 2020 if the Trump campaign raises the issues of how to pay for it or scare-mongers about taking away people’s private insurance. (And trust me, if it comes to that, it will.) Warren’s performance was particularly depressing given how well she did at the LGBTQ forum.
There are other hard single-payer questions to ask, of course (like how realistic it is to trust a broken political system with a health insurance monopoly), but that same broken system will ensure that one doesn’t get raised. Paying for it, and taking away people’s private insurance are the ones that can sink Sanders and Warren.
It is theoretically possible to resolve both the above problems with appropriate messaging, of course (single-payer has been successfully introduced in other countries). The rub is, I have as of yet seen no evidence that either Sanders or Warren are good enough at messaging to accomplish that.
That leaves Biden as the only likely eventual candidate who doesn’t have that liability. The trouble here is that Biden is an exemplar of the stereotypical Democratic Party failure-seeking missile of a candidate. Just like Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton, he is a purportedly “safe, responsible” choice which is in fact neither, because he represents a failed status quo that for decades has seen the rich get richer while everyone else slips further behind.
The Democratic Party elite was sure that Barack Obama was unelectable in 2008, and threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton, yet Obama won that election handily. The party establishment prevailed in 2016 with Hillary, who lost against the weakest opponent any presidential candidate has faced in recent history. That alone should underscore how piss-poor the judgment of the party elite is about electability.
Nominate Biden and enough voters will choose to sit the election out to make another Trump win likely.
He’s an interesting guy. Atypically for a political moderate, he’s actually a fearless thinker. As such, he is not afraid to embrace ideas from the left if his logic leads him there; he outright mentioned the Biden problem I touched on above. He also mentioned some of the single-payer pitfalls. The trouble is he’s not even 40 years old, and he has no political experience save being the mayor of a mid-sized Indiana city. Plus, at best he’s polling at just a hair above 5%. Odds are he’s an also-ran.
The Other Also-Rans
They are, well, also-rans. They’re not going to get the nomination, either.
The Depressing Take-Away
Simply, no candidate capable of winning the primary seems likely to prevail against Trump in November.