America is entering into a new period in its history. A lot of people are tearing their hair out thinking of the consequences of a Donald Trump presidency. Whether it’s over nuclear war, trade war or domestic wars over social issues, people are losing their minds. Yet many people are overlooking the one silver lining that this election has brought about: the Democrats will no longer be in government. In what way could that be considered a silver lining? In short, because it allows them to move on. They have been given four years to prepare for what is likely to be another ‘campaign like no other’. They can leave the process of government to the Republicans who are in desperate need of a shake-up. Unluckily for them, they simply won’t have the time to address the gaping divide between those on the extreme fringes and those that are more moderate. Without daily governance to worry about, the Democrats will; and do so they must.
It is easy to look at the Republican Party and laugh at the state it finds itself in. But don’t be so sure that the Democrats aren’t finding themselves in the same situation. Just look at the primaries; many expected them to be a mere formality for Hillary Clinton, and just how wrong they were. Bernie Sanders’ meteoric rise highlighted the discrepancies between the various coalitions that make up the party. Such a primary campaign cannot be allowed to happen in 2019/2020. Whilst it is not unfeasible that the Republicans will try to oust Trump in their own primaries if his first term proves especially disastrous, it is not to be expected. President Trump will not waste time in 2019 and he will be out promoting his message of hate and division before Iowa has even voted. It is because of this that the Democrats need to ensure they have a solid, carefully thought out plan for how to beat Trump in 2020.
This plan needs to consider three points. The first is that change wins votes. Period. We saw it in 2008 and we saw it again in 2016 under very different circumstances. Obama offered a new kind of politics, and hope for a better future. Well guess what, so did Trump; the main difference being the kind of politics and the kind of future they would deliver. Hillary Clinton did not offer change. She offered a sort of ‘whatever he’s having’, that he being Obama. A third term for Barack Obama would have been great. The country, however, didn’t agree. Just as they did in 2008, the American population voted for the candidate they viewed as being able to bring about change. In this case, many people were of the opinion that Hillary had been around so long she would just be more of the same. Now, for a lot of people, more of the same would have been just fine. For those who placed their trust in Trump, however, it most certainly was not and they wanted to make sure the rest of the country knew it.
Leading on from this, the second point is that in 2020 the Democrats will be the outsider party. Just as the Republicans were in 2016, the Democrats will be in a position to call themselves the party of change. After four years of Donald Trump, America will need change and the Democrats must provide it. This cannot rehash ideas from the previous election. They must offer a direct response to the soundbites offered by Donald Trump. In 2016, the coalition that elected Barack Obama stayed home and the Democrats cannot allow that to happen again. 2020 will be an opportunity for a new candidate who can bring Americans together as Obama did. In 2016 Trump offered change and Clinton offered unity. In 2020, the Democrats will need to offer both.
The third and final point is that most Americans actually lean Democratic, at least socially, in their political opinions. Most of them just don’t realise it. Many millennial Republicans will tell you that they agree with Democrats on social issues but would prefer less government intervention in economic policy. Many older Republicans also share this view though certainly to a lesser extent. In 2020, the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she may be, needs to reach out to these people in the way that Hillary tried, but ultimately failed, to do. The Republican Party is speeding towards the domain of right-wing extremism and Democrats need to step up and offer a home to those who are left behind.
The Democrats must waste no time in ensuring a victory in 2020. Part of this will also include a success in the midterms in 2018. The Democrats must ensure they hold onto every seat they currently hold in the Senate, which is possible if they present themselves as an effective opposition to Trump’s political agenda. The House may prove to be a step too far in 2018, depending on the outcome of Trumps’ policies, but if the Democrats can successfully cut into the hold the Republicans currently have- perhaps even mortally wound it- it sets them in good stead for 2020.
It is important to remember that in 2016 America voted for Hillary Clinton by 688,483 votes America did not vote for Trump, but in December 2016, the Electoral College will. Whilst it is easy to forget this when we are faced with the prospect of a Trump presidency, more people voted for Clinton than they did for Trump. That in itself should be the resounding battle cry of the Democratic Party for the next four years. More people voted for progressive, inclusive and open politics than voted for the ideas offered by Donald Trump. If we can remember this, keep our heads held high and always fight for what is right, 2020 will be ours.
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