Donald Trump’s Florida campaign kickoff Tuesday night
reminded me of a scene from the movie, Godfather I, when
Michael Corleone and Tom Hagen were at the cemetery for the burial of
Michael’s father, Vito Corleone. Tom whispered to Michael:
“How will they come at you,” in reference to the
five crime families who would try to assassinate him to take his
the aftermath of the Corleone family’s refusal to provide
judicial protection for the crime syndicate’s cocaine
distribution operation, it was clear that a violent response was
forthcoming. But Michael had already devised a plan to thwart its
attempt at retribution. His henchmen would liquidate the heads of
the five syndicate families, almost simultaneously, before they could
take any action against him, thus eliminating the threat.
Democrats are in a position similar to Michael Corleone’s with
the exception that they have a clear understanding of how Trump is
coming after them in 2020. He is using the same strategies that he
successfully employed to defeat them in 2016: xenophobia, misogyny, a
focus on national and border security, anti-immigrant and
anti-minority tropes, and a specific promise to overturn Roe v.
Wade via his appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.
appear to have a limited understanding, or ability, to respond to
Trump’s mendacity, political strategies, and his stranglehold
on the Republican Party. He has unified Republicans in a way that
Democrats can only envy as the more than twenty 2020 presidential
candidates prepare to take the debate stage.
Change is not a big enough issue to galvanize the Democratic base.
Democratic candidates have unanimously embraced climate change as
one of their major issues. Yet the general electorate does not list
it as a high priority. Health care remains an important issue across
party lines and was one of the key factors in the Democrats’
2018 midterm victories. Therefore, they must pursue other issues to
expand and energize voters to support them.
females (and their turnout) remain the lead demographic in the
Democratic base. However, African American males also turned out
and voted in large numbers for Democrats in Obama’s 2008 and
2012 runs for the presidency. They were critical to the election of
Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate from Alabama, the first Democratic
Senator from that state since 1997, and of Ralph Northam and Justin
Fairfax as Governor and Lt. Governor, respectively, of Virginia in
Alabama, Joe Reed, former head of the Alabama Democratic Conference
(created by black political leaders in the 1960s) was a key
strategist in getting black males out to vote while former Virginia
Gov. Doug Wilder (the first black elected to that office) got black
males to the polls in Virginia. In addition, African American males
were central to Democratic victories during the 2018 midterms.
national and state-level political polls are leading 2020 Democratic
presidential candidates down the same political rabbit hole that
Hillary Clinton fell into in 2016. The print and broadcast media
persists in hyping their importance when they mean almost nothing as
to who will win the nomination at this point. Democrats need to
focus on engaging their voters rather than following the polls.
Elizabeth Warren is beginning to surge among different groups within
in the Democratic base by bonding with the voters aspirations.
After listening to their concerns, she has created easily
understandable plans that have elicited their support. If she
combines this approach with a dedicated get-out-the-vote (GOTV) plan,
she has a good chance to topple Joe Biden for the nomination. She is
currently out-performing Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker among
African American voters.
2018 midterms are not a precursor to 2020 election outcomes.
Unless the ultimate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and other
Democrats running for election and/or reelection reestablish strong
relationships with their base, they will lose the presidency and the
U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats remain na´ve as to how
to beat Trump and his minions.
success in his two elections to the presidency is replicable by
Democrats if they put in the political work. Obama outworked
Hillary Clinton and John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. He
did so by reaching out to large numbers of irregular Democratic
voters, moderates, and Independents, and also putting large amounts
of money into GOTV strategies in majority and minority communities in
the 50 states. He generated an historic turnout among voters of
color and among whites who voted for a black candidate for the first
Clinton, although she had the financial resources to implement the
Obama model, chose to rely on President Obama and First lady
Michelle, and other surrogates, to do the hard and respectful work of
directly asking voters for their support. She overlooked the fact
that Obama was not successful in turning out the vote when he was not
on the ballot as demonstrated in the 2010 midterms when the Democrats
lost the House.
Democrats are allowing Trump to get away with the lie that
undocumented Mexican immigrant are overrunning America.
According to a recently released study by the Pew Research Center,
less than half of the approximately 10.5 million undocumented
immigrants currently residing in the U.S. are from Mexico. Their
numbers have declined by 2 million since 2007. This drop is a result
of the improved economic conditions in Mexico and the already
improved U.S. border security. Moreover, more Mexican nationals have
left America than have arrived.
proposal earlier this week to deport millions of undocumented Central
American immigrants (which is unlikely to be implemented due to the
logistics) is another example of his regular feeding of his nearly
35-40 percent atavistic, racist base. It constitutes the point
of the spear of his support to which he plans to add a sliver of
ethnic minorities, Independents, conservative Democrats, and
moderates who like his economic policies.
noted at the beginning of this column, Michael Corleone in the
Godfather I movie was able to discern how his opponents were
planning to come after him and was able to counter their plot. Trump
has told his Democratic opponents publicly and directly—straight
up-- how he plans to destroy them politically. So far they have not
developed a scheme to stop him. We have seen this movie before, and
the result will be the same unless the Democrats revise the ending.