Since the end of the Second World War, only three sitting US Presidents have failed to be re-elected: Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992. Donald Trump may soon be the fourth; the first of this century. In this column, we ask, do the Democrats have what it takes to topple America's most controversial President since Richard Nixon?
As time has passed, it is undoubtedly clear that worldwide elections have become more a matter of personality than policies. The UK Prime Ministerial Election last December proved that, with most floating voters declaring publicly that they'd "rather vote for Johnson than Corbyn", regardless of the fact that they're voting for an MP or a party, not a leader specifically. In this sense, if the Democrats are going to win the White House in November, it's going to require a fierce dogfight against Western politics' biggest personality, Donald Trump.
The US voting system, it can be said, brought around this new dawn of political caricatures with citizens directly voting for electors that in turn decide who runs the country. With the sheer prominence of debates surrounding the nominations of the Democrat candidates, at least it gives the electorate a great chance to understand both key policies and personalities of the individual candidates. Indeed, in this rapidly progressing age of personality politics, these televised debates will only grow even more important as time passes.
For the Democrats to even stand a chance of winning, they need a clear identity and message; in short, they need direction. I'm no political analyst or seasoned journalist, but there's certainly a strong argument to demonstrate the Democrats' political unity following Donald Trump's State Of The Union address. Their clear message is only facilitated further by the overarching failures of the Trump Administration, at least on the sides of healthcare and gun violence. The message from the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, certainly characterises this unity and also highlights the Democrats' ability to not point the finger at Trump directly, but instead indicate to the audience that the Democrats are the party to right the Republicans' wrongs. She went on to state that "It’s pretty simple. Democrats are trying to make your health care better; Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away.”, with direct reference to the Republican efforts to roll back the state and dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Despite this however, the Medicare For All policy, advocated by the likes of Bernie Sanders, could end up being the Democrats' undoing. In a survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation & the Cook Political Report, they found that whilst 62% of Democratic voters in the former 'Blue Wall' states of Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin think that a Medicare For All plan that does away with private insurance is a good idea, another 62% of swing voters in those battleground states think it's a bad idea. This obviously presents the Democrats with a problem. Do they keep pleasing their core voter base, or do they instead look to win over the swing voters with new policies?
Indeed, this Medicare for All policy is an idea they've been pushing for a good few years now, advocating a similar kind of socialism that gave rise to Jeremy Corbyn a few years ago. If it gets pushed any harder, the 2020 Election might just be a referendum on healthcare, not just the overall presidency. That being said, Medicare For All is a fabulous idea, and the USA needs that kind of Attleean spirit that Britain had following the Second World War. Where the Democrats unequivocally win though is that both frontrunners from the disastrous Iowa caucus, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, are promising extended coverage; this is something that Donald Trump has continuously pledged not to do.
Trump's State Of The Union address last week boasted on the wins in the economy, but from the outside looking in, the economy may not be doing as well as it seems. According to the BBC's Reality Check, whilst his claim surrounding the idea that "After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories". is true, these factories are mainly small businesses, with fewer than five employees. Moreover, Trump makes a lot out of America's apparently unsurpassed economic growth levels, stating again that "I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.", and whilst there's no doubts that the economy has done well under Mr. Trump, it's not the best the economy has ever been. There were times under Obama where GDP growth was upwards of 5.5%, and even under Clinton growth figures of over 4% was commonplace. Low unemployment may be true in the USA under Trump, but the rate of job growth, is lowest in Trump country, as per the New York Times, which seems ironic given the fact he wanted to bring back jobs to the United States. For the Democrats, as per Steven Rattner, they've got to remind the electorate of two hard facts. Firstly, little of Trump's actions has actually helped the US economy; in part, they're still riding high off the benefits of Obama. In addition, it's the principle that the challenges for the normal American people remain steep and life remains tough.
If the Democrats are to have any chance of winning this November, they've got to hope that voting technology doesn't plague them consistently throughout this run of caucuses and primaries. Furthermore, they've got to get someone with the right hype train behind them to give Donald Trump a good run for his money. Despite his low polling numbers and quantity of delegates, my pick would be Andrew Yang. With an entrepreneurial background, he's got the nouse of any successful businessperson and his policies make sense. His promises are long-term, advocating a Universal Basic Income, to reform American social security payments, as well as safeguarding the US economy for the future, from the apparent dangers of automation. Sure, he's only got a small following, but for someone that's never been involved in elective politics before, he might just be the man to take down Donald Trump.
The Democrats have as good a chance as any of defeating Donald Trump to his record-breaking second term in office. With the right leader and a unified party behind a candidate, they might just be able to pip him at the post. That being said, it's a long road to the White House, meaning that anything can happen, but be sure that whatever happens, they're going to give it a good go.