Slow news day? President Donald Trump will fill any vacuum. During one week in May, he fired FBI director James Comey, who was investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election, gave varying accounts of his motivation for doing so, yukked it up in the Oval Office with senior Russian officials, called Comey a “nut job” and threatened to appoint former Sen. Joe Lieberman to succeed him. But even though the president may be having fun, polls show that a sizable majority of Americans disapprove of his antics.
So optimistic are formerly beaten-down Democrats that potential 2020 presidential candidates are already surfacing. A recent piece in Politico listed about 20 possible contenders.
Democrats have long believed that demography is destiny. Because Millennials, Hispanics, African-Americans and women tend to support Dems, they believe that time is on their side. GOP geezers, beware! Gerrymander all you want, but the Grim Reaper will remove you from the voter rolls.
Hillary Clinton beat President Trump by 3 million votes, thanks to massive wins in California and New York. Given that a 70,000 vote shift in three Midwestern states would have given Clinton the election, it’s clear that Democrats need a new strategy. Maybe they’d better go after those aging white guys in the Midwest, those disgruntled farmers in the plains and those devout evangelicals and military retirees in the flyovers.
If they don’t, we know what they’re going to do, don’t we? They’ll hire consultants, write op-eds, dither and quarrel. They’ll allow themselves to be distracted by all things Trump, and get blindsided when Trump emerges unscathed from scandal.
Here’s a suggestion for Democrats: Forget demographic inevitability and come to Colorado Springs, one of the most conservative cities in the United States. We offer a free course to all — “Politics 101: How to Win.” Your instructors will be Yolanda Avila, Jill Gaebler and Richard Skorman, three non-partisan progressives who won election to Colorado Springs City Council on April 4. Running against competent, well-funded conservative opponents, all three won easily. Their opponents received the enthusiastic endorsement of the Phil Anschutz-owned daily newspaper, while the progressives were endorsed by the left-leaning alternative weekly.
And no, Colorado Springs hasn’t suddenly done a political about-face. In 2016, Trump trounced Clinton in El Paso County, 179,228 to 108,010.
Avila, Gaebler and Skorman aren’t political partisans. Like the two conservative council incumbents who were re-elected (and also endorsed by the alt-weekly) they’re decidedly non-ideological, committed to working productively with moderate Republican Mayor John Suthers.
To win in 2018 and 2020, Democrats need to look beyond their coastal bases. Forget the checklists, and find a winner. And just as President Trump found a conservative jurist in Colorado, Democrats can find a liberal president in the Mountain West.
In a perfect world, they’ll unite behind Steve Bullock. He’s the Democratic governor of Montana, re-elected easily in 2016 in a state that went for Trump by 20 points. Like Avila, Gaebler and Skorman, he’s not an avid partisan and doesn’t buy into the national Democratic litmus tests.
“That might win the East Coast and the West Coast, but there’s a whole lot of country in between,” Bullock told The Washington Post in April. “The absolutes when it comes to either side on the Second Amendment don’t work.”
National party leaders have long ignored successful red-state Democrats. Talk about stupidity — that’s as if the Navy sent Seal Team 6 to run a supply depot in Alaska. Between 2008 and 2015 Democrats lost 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats, more than 1,000 state legislative seats and 12 governors’ offices, capping it all off by losing the presidency in 2016.
Mission: failed. So here’s your strategy. Soft pedal the ultraliberal left, reintroduce yourselves to the rest of America, find a thousand sensible moderates to run for office, and send Trump back to his penthouse in 2020.