Tuesday, February 4, 2020

... Tock

I think Donald Trump has broken the Democratic Party. They are defined now just by hating him.
Senator Rafael "Ted" Cruz, R - Texas. Quoted in: Ted Cruz: 'Donald Trump has broken the Democratic Party'
At this, the choir raised their hands in the air and shouted "amen." Everyone else went about their regularly-scheduled business.

It makes sense for Senator Cruz to be seen publicly calling out the Democrats as haters who have given up on their former convictions to rail against President Trump. To the degree that being a loyal Republican is to side with the President in all things, making his enemies your enemies is simply good politics. And even people who support President Trump find it so difficult to make the case for him to other people that they've given up. Someone who says that Democrats "are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage," and "want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it," is pretty clearly not looking for any Blue votes this time around.

And in the same way that President Trump casts Democrats as an active threat to his voter base and the nation as a whole, many Democratic voters see President Trump as an active threat to them. And in that sense, Senator Cruz may be correct. President Trump may have, well, "broken" is too strong a word, but he might well have redirected the Democratic Party. If President Trump's election was driven by an idea on the part of the people who voted for him that a Hillary Clinton presidency would have represented the United States turning its back on them and leaving them to fend for themselves, President Trump and a lot of other Republicans appear to be engaged in a campaign to convince core (or even marginal) Democratic constituencies that they mean to have the United States force them to fend for themselves. It's an interesting strategy of demonstrating that the President has the right enemies, while at the same time attempting to avoid frightening those same enemies into turning out en masse to protect themselves. It makes for an interesting dichotomy, because the President's base of support is not broad enough to bring him a victory in the face of heavy opposition turnout, his message of conflict only works if the supposed enemy doesn't actually have it in for him. The President doesn't appear to have substantially grown his base since the 2016 election, where he lost the popular vote. If "swing-state" voters who stayed home in 2016 feel threatened enough to come out this November, President Trump may be our first one-term President in a while.

The pendulum that started swinging with the Reagan or Clinton presidencies, depending on how one looks at it, will swing back. President Trump is too disengaged from the hopes and fears of the population outside of his base for them to stay quiet forever. He may be able to prevent his own voters from becoming complacent, and thus not coming out for him in this next general election, but without actively adding people to his coalition (or finding some way to effectively pseudo-gerrymander the nation as a whole to lock up the Electoral College) Republicans won't be able to maintain their hold on the White House. (Although their current control of large swaths of the federal judiciary may serve as something of a bulwark for a perhaps considerable time.) Senator Cruz calling out the Democrats as deranged isn't going to change that calculus. Eventually, demography looks set to carry the day.

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