Was Donald Trump’s 2016 victory a rejection of Hillary Clinton or an ideological change? In The Great Revolt Selena Zito noted critical districts in the Midwest that had voted with substantial margins for Obama voted for Donald Trump with similar margins. Does this mean that they had turned on Barak, rejecting his legacy? If they believed in his legacy, why would they have entrusted it to Donald Trump rather than Hillary? Did they just prefer Trump’s flaws to Hillary’s flaws?
Democrats have blamed the outdated electoral college, Russian interference, fake news, social media and any other convenient excuse for their loss, but given the wide gaps in background and experience between the two candidates, the general media’s (meaning everything other than Foxnews) embrace of Hillary, why was it even close?
Elections are decided by the independents; about a third of the voters without a strong loyalty to either party. In 2020 will these critical voters be more exhausted by Donald Trump’s tweets and constant combative posture or the relentless outrage of the Democrats? Will they worry more about the flaws in Donald Trump’s character or the torrent of preposterous ideas emanating from the Democratic candidates and Congressmen and women?
The Green New Deal, single payer health care, taxes on wealth and unrealized gains, 70% tax rates, federal control of corporate culture, eliminating the electoral college, packing the courts, and a host of other poorly thought out proposals may leave voters concerned how they would handle power if they got it. How will the voters perceive the party’s reluctance to control toxic anti-Semitic elements in their midst? Has the moderate middle tired of the illiberal political correctness, identity politics and the uncivil behavior of screaming protesters at Senate hearings? How do they respond to the attacks on Republican congressmen and staff at public restaurants, encouraged by sitting congressmen and congresswomen?
Are these radical elements in the Democratic party representative of the party? If they are such a small contingency as Nancy Pelosi stated, why are they so hard to control?
The country can recover much more quickly from a bad character than from bad ideas with wide support. Will the independents have more to fear from the radical elements within the Democratic party and their bad ideas than they have to fear from Trump’s flawed character? That may be the central question in the 2020 election.