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Looking Ahead to the 2020 Presidential Election

Looking ahead to the 2020 Presidential Election    Gerry OShea

There is a silliness about the claims of some of the candidates for the Democratic nomination when they assert that they are in the best position to win back blue-collar workers in the Midwest who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. They claim that Hillary Clinton just did not connect with these voters; she failed to address their issues or to appeal to their emotions as Mr. Trump did successfully.

So those voters will have four years of experiencing this presidency before it comes to casting the next presidential ballot. I am sure they will be influenced by how they and their families benefited from Trump's policies on taxation and healthcare, and these important matters will influence whether or not they want a continuation of the present regime. No need for Democratic pandering; let them make their judgment based on how their concerns were dealt with since 2016.

Also, the Democratic candidates won't be  worrying about chasing support from committed pro-lifers, who believe that the Roe v Wade decision must be reversed. These are serious and genuine people driven by a conviction that abortion in any circumstances from the moment of conception is seriously morally wrong - and they will vote Republican because of this issue in every election.

By comparison, all the Democratic candidates strongly affirm a woman's right to choose. Fine, but the Party is seen by many  moderates as moving to an extreme position, against  almost any restriction on the controversial procedure. Where is the Clinton principle that abortion should be safe, legal and, very importantly, rare? Some recent research shows that many pro-choice people shirk from giving their approval to aborting a fetus with an identifiable heart beat. So far, none of the Democratic candidates has addressed these serious reservations.

Evangelicals, a very strong Christian group with adherents in most of the main Protestant denominations, emphasize in their belief system the need for a born-again spiritual experience. They also strongly assert the literal inerrancy of the bible and look forward to a final rapture event when the "saved" will transfer to a heavenly kingdom.

 The political convictions of this large - about 15% of the population - and influential group favor the conservative philosophy and about 80% of them vote Republican. Some of the Democratic candidates like to stress their religious beliefs, which is admirable, but there is no sign that they will  make any headway with traditional Evangelicals.

It is ironic that this Christian group will vote overwhelmingly for a thrice-married candidate, whose truthfulness and moral probity are questioned every day and whose behavior, based on current public knowledge, compares poorly with any of the aspiring  Democratic candidates in terms of marital fidelity or overall ethical values.

Racial prejudice is often correctly identified as America's original sin, and it remains a dominating feature in every facet of American life. Pete Hamill, the perspicacious former political essayist, wrote truthfully that people of all colors in America are tainted by racism.

There are, however, some white voters who find ways to blame people of color for most of the ills of the country. They believe President Trump when he speaks of wild Mexicans crossing the border and raping white women in Texas, or when he tells about jubilant Muslims dancing happily in New Jersey as the Twin Towers burned.

These people should be left to their wild imaginings; they will never vote for a Biden or a Harris not to mention a Warren or a Buttigieg. They are reliable Trump supporters.

 Add mainstream Republican and conservative voters and you have a solid 40% who will cast their ballots for the president in November 2020. The economy and the Stock Market are likely to be still strong, so those who look to a Trump victory certainly have a strong case.

On the other side, the usual Democratic coalition of liberals, African-Americans and trade unionists want an end to the Trump era which they see as an unmitigated and embarrassing disaster.

Their big issue is undoubtedly healthcare and the efforts of the current Republican leadership in the White House to get the courts to rule that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional and thus must be scrapped.

 They believe that the five conservative justices in the Supreme Court will deliver this major victory against President Obama's signature achievement in domestic policy. This would end healthcare coverage for over 20 million Americans and would relieve insurance companies from the ACA mandate to cover pre-existing medical conditions.

They are playing with fire here because this is a real kitchen table topic which directly impacts millions of families. All the reports from the constituencies in last November's mid-term elections pointed to the Republicans' abysmal record on healthcare as the defining reason that led to a historic victory for Democrats in most parts of the country.

The electorate is changing with much more engagement by young people. In a recent Harvard study 51% of people aged 18 to 29 describe themselves as having no allegiance to capitalism. Very simply, they look askance at the record of an economic system that is dominated by 10% of rich people to the detriment of the rest of the population.

Another study shows that while 32% of  this cohort of young voters supported Republican candidates in the midterm elections last November, a whopping 67%  went with Democrats. This 35% chasm is three times higher than in the 2014 mid-terms.

Research studies also show that women - especially working suburban women - are trending Democratic. Generous paid family leave similar to what is available to parents in most European countries is favored by all the Democratic candidates. Women view this as a major family issue. They see it as backward and misogynistic that most American women have to return to work just ten days after giving birth.

There is almost unanimous international scientific agreement that we are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, meaning we are warming up the planet, evidenced by the fact that 20 of the last 22 years are recorded as the hottest in history. President Trump, who even dumped the modest Paris Climate Agreement when he assumed office, proclaims repeatedly that global warming qualifies as the hoax of the century.

 Increasing numbers of young Americans realize that this anti-scientific, head-in-the-sand response is completely wrong and indeed embarrassing. Furthermore, they see it as really dangerous because the damage being done to the ozone layer is irreversible.

Global warming was only a minor issue that had little influence with voters in 2016. The strong indications are that it will work to the detriment of Republicans next year.

Still many analysts correctly point out that going on historical precedent, a president with a strong economy has the most important box ticked when he seeks re-election. That has been proven true in the past. We will see what happens in November 2020.


Gerry O'Shea blogs at


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