It is an article of faith in some circles that if the U.S. economy stops growing, President Trump will not be reelected in 2020. Thus opines Ross Douthat in The New York Times in a recent column headlined “What Happens in a Recession?”
Answering his own question, Douthat writes: “First, the easy part: Donald Trump loses re-election. It will be ugly and flailing and desperate and – depending on recession-era geopolitics – potentially quite dangerous, but there is no way a president so widely disliked survives the evaporation of his boom.”
Is Douthat sure about that?
True, President Trump scores better among voters on his management of the economy than on foreign policy or immigration, for instance. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows nearly half the country supports Trump’s economic measures.
But if our economic growth falters, the president will blame the Federal Reserve Board for its bungling of interest rates, and he’ll claim that he bravely jeopardized his reelection bid by taking on the Chinese – something that had to be done. He will be right on both counts and he will be forgiven by his supporters.
As important, let us consider what Democrats have to offer, which will certainly also impact the election. The same NBC/Wall Street Journal poll cited earlier shows that voters today would vote for a generic Democrat over Trump by 52 percent to 40 percent.
But Trump won’t be running against a generic Democrat. He’ll likely be running against a hard-left candidate who will spout socialist policies – like taking over the nation’s health care system – and who will have to defend the outlandish Green New Deal.
Moreover, the Democratic nominee will probably be someone who has been on the stump for months attacking President Trump and echoing party lines that may not appeal to crossover voters.
Here’s some of what we’ve been hearing from the two dozen or so Democrats vying to be their party’s 2020 presidential candidate:
- President Trump and some of his supporters are racist (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and others).
- The United States is racist (former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas).
- It was “shameful” for Israel to ban a visit by two anti-Semitic and anti-Israel congresswomen (Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts). Less noted was that the Palestinian Authority blocked a gay rights groups the same week from holding events; the authority said the gay rights group represented a “violation of the ideals and values of Palestinian society.”
- Bail policies must be changed to put criminals back on the streets faster (New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and others).
- Police are racist, witness the “murder” of Michael Brown, who was black, by a white police officer (Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris of California). Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler wrote that this assertion by the senators is false, and that the Obama Justice Department found no credible evidence that the officer acted improperly.
- China is not “competition” for the U.S. (Former Vice President Joe Biden).
- Illegally entering the U.S. should not be a federal crime (Castro).
- There should be no limits on abortion. (South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and others).
- We need to stamp out our fossil fuel industries, which employ millions of Americans. (Bernie Sanders and others).
- We need to “tax the hell out of the wealthy” (de Blasio, Warren and others).
Call me crazy, but those positions are going to alienate a bunch of folks, and for sure many who voted for President Trump in 2016.
No one likes to be called racist, and most of the people who voted for Trump do not consider themselves bigots.
In addition, people who liked Trump’s promise to Make America Great Again are appalled by O’Rourke’s statement: “Our country was founded on racism – and is still racist today.”
Sorry, Beto, but a country that twice elects a black president is not profoundly racist. Also, a country that is free and that offers opportunity to all is not racist. The United States is one of the freest nations on Earth, according to the CATO Institute and our ranking has actually increased under President Trump.
If our economic growth falters, the president will blame the Federal Reserve Board for its bungling of interest rates, and he’ll claim that he bravely jeopardized his reelection bid by taking on the Chinese – something that had to be done. He will be right on both counts and he will be forgiven by his supporters.
If our country boasts widespread freedom and a chance to get ahead, it cannot also be racist.
Of course, that’s not all Democrats have to offer.
Some, like Warren, have published scores of policy proposals, most of which require taking more money away from taxpayers and businesses in order to inflate the government’s role in, well, pretty much everything. Because, as Warren describes it, the private sector is full of vultures and vampires.
And, of course, the federal government has done such a bang-up job when it has intervened in the marketplace. See: mortgage bubble, student loan crisis, rising health care costs, the affordable housing shortage and more – all of which can be attributed at least in part to well-meaning, but ultimately catastrophic government interventions.
Meanwhile, examples of Democratic-run government failures are thick on the ground.
Take a hard look at the homeless problem in California, where there are now not one but two apps alerting people to the presence of human excrement on sidewalks.
Check out the underperforming schools in Baltimore and New York City, where black and brown kids emerge without an education.
Indeed, look into the finances of nearly any deeply blue city or town, and discover the mischief done by cozy ties between politicians and public employee unions.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates want to take these failures national. That’s quite a platform.
Many of the Democratic candidates are arguing that the country is in bad shape, that the middle class is hurting, that the playing field is not level and that climbing up the income ladder is no longer possible.
Tell this to the drivers working long hours to put their kids through medical school, or the South American doorman who works extra shifts to support his nieces’ education, or the florists down the street whose start-up business is booming.
Tell that to the felons and disabled, and all those groups – African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics – who are benefiting from record-low unemployment, unparalleled job opportunities and rising wages.
These aspiring people, many of them immigrants who have legally entered the United States, are all around us. They are optimistic, they love this country and – guess what – many of them voted for Donald Trump and will do so again.