Many years ago, George Mitchell, the Senate Democratic majority leader in the 1990s, told me, “The only people who believe the speeches of Republican senators are Democratic senators.”
I love my party. And I’m proud of what we stand for: equality, economic dignity, health care as a human right, among other things. But when it comes to practicing politics, the Democrats are a party ridden with crushing anxiety and self-doubt, even if the winds of fate are sailing entirely in our direction. Throughout the Trump era, I’ve seen us suffer time and again a terrible case of political amnesia.
The Democrats are a party ridden with crushing anxiety and self-doubt, even if the winds of fate are sailing entirely in our direction.
In 2016, Donald Trump got just over 46 percent of the vote, aided by Russia’s hacking and disinformation campaign, Jim Comey’s oh-so-necessary letter about Hillary Clinton’s email server and a tepid Democratic endorsement from Sen. Bernie Sanders. Yet even amid Clinton’s tornado of negative coverage, Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million, winning the Electoral College by a freakish fraction of votes spread across three states. Since Trump was inaugurated, we’ve won governor’s races in all three of those states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We elected the first Democratic senator from Arizona in decades, suburbs across the country have shifted against the president and in 2018, Democrats stormed to the majority in the House of Representatives by the largest voter margin in U.S. history.
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Now, it feels like the majority of people who believe Trump can win again in 2020 are Democrats, for better or for worse. And yet, Trump’s approval rating has never once peaked above 50 percent, even before Covid-19 — the only president to fail to reach that level since polls have measured presidential favorability. And now, because of his gross mishandling of the worst pandemic we’ve seen in a century, he has reduced his base support even further. As a result, I predict we will see a majority unite against him in a way not seen since Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential election. I have never been more certain of something in my life. So, quell your fears, bed-wetting Democrats: 2016 is not 2020.
And that means this election is not just about defeating Trump. We also need to think about what comes next. Once the votes are tallied, I think we’re going to see a welcome unification of groups once thought to be separate: young liberals, veterans, suburban women, voters of color and seniors who witnessed the darkest flashpoints of our country’s history.
Dating back to April, I have been publicly bullish of a Democratic victory. This is the most consistent race I’ve seen — consistently bad for the Republicans. And this week, a slew of polling from NBC/Wall Street Journal and CNN only confirm my long held belief. While the CNN