Groupthink is just as dangerous as hubris. A few days ago, the stock market took a tumble. It was clear that a deal on Chinese tariffs was not forthcoming.
After a steady focus on the Mueller Report and many other Trump antics, tweets, and idiocy that should have been ignored, the stock market’s fall in tandem with failed trade talks had the full attention of our derelict media. It was time for grandstanding.
While Donald Trump was ready for the grandstand, our Democratic leaders were not. It would have been a safe bet to assume that our leaders would be chasing every microphone at MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News. I knew they would be agile enough and grandly call an official press conference so they could get to speak to the American farmer, the American consumer, and the members of the middle-class who are getting hit the hardest by tariffs.
But wait a minute: How could some of these Democrats do that? After all, is it not true that our current standard-bearer, Joe Biden, supports NAFTA, CAFTA, and backed TPP? And this is the classic dilemma that will face any Democratic candidate tacking to the mythical center. Just like George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 and then really won in 2004, I anticipate the same with Donald Trump in 2020, all things being equal.
The fallacy of tacking to the mythical center to avoid the always inevitable ‘socialist’ tag is a fool’s errand. When you have two parties who both cater to the plutocracy, the liar who is offering believable progressive policies over centrist policies will always win.
Trump’s actions are laying the groundwork for an interesting narrative, and it will be a more expansive triangulation than he used to win the Midwest in 2016.
In 2016 he promised health insurance better and cheaper than Obamacare, jobs, and so much ‘winning’ that you would not be able to take it anymore. He promised to blow up NAFTA and TPP to bring back jobs. Well, he blew up TPP and nominally killed NAFTA. He also promised to get tough on China, and now we have a trade war with China after Trump slapped punitive tariffs on the country.
Trump’s Chinese tariffs create points of discussions on the deficit, taxes, lying to his base, the economic pain of the masses, and much more. But Democrats are just leaving it up to pundits, journalists, and others to craft a less-than-perfect narrative.
It is hard to believe that so many are unable to think through more than one level of indirection. Trump is showing the potential to clobber Democrats by using tariffs to counter the status quo, aka the mythical center.
Donald Trump gave a short but effective interview earlier this week after the stock market had a sharp drop when traders realized that there would be no deal on Chinese tariffs. I was astounded by the response from pundits on MSNBC. It wasn’t that they were not speaking the truth: It was that they could not understand that it doesn’t matter what they think, but what the people who are going to vote think.
Most Democrats and progressives know that Trump is a liar and that he makes promises he has no intention of keeping. But many of his voters or those willing to give him a chance want to believe, and it gives them hope. The supposed pragmatism of Amy Klobuchar or Joe Biden has no answers for them.
We should be mindful of the following I wrote about in an article titled “Democrats must nominate a populist if they are to win the White House and Congress,” which Thom Hartmann agreed with on his national program.
When American pollsters give Americans choices of policies, they reveal themselves as progressives. So why is it that their votes show centrism? The answer is obvious. The powers-that-be hoodwink them into believing the things they want most are unattainable. Worse, their leaders tell them that their wants would cost jobs or hurt the economy. In other words, fear is responsible for most Americans sticking to the mythical center.
Centrist-voting Americans are fighting for two basic wants. First and foremost they want Trump defeated in 2020. They also want middle-class centric, progressive policies. But to them, getting rid of Trump is more existential. So they will forego the policies if they believe fighting for them could cost them the election.
The thing is, except for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats have not given voters a transformational vision of our economy that will help all those who are hurting financially. Trump is building such a vision, even if it’s just a facade. And whether he gets the beneficial terms from China or not, the truth is that because Democrats haven’t provided a compelling counter-narrative, Trump may win over enough voters to cruise to re-election in 2020.