Bankole: Are Democrats ceding Michigan to Trump?

Bankole Thompson

President Donald Trump knows he needs Michigan. Winning here would be a major boost in his quest for a second term in 2020. Even as the odds are stacked against him, Trump could still pull another stunning upset in this battleground state much like he did in 2016. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that this state could remain red in the next presidential election.

Michigan resident Rob Cortis, owner of the Trump Unity Bridge trailer

On the other hand, the take-no-risk Democrats behave as if Michigan is already a foregone conclusion -- an easy win. Democrats who view Trump’s election as a big mistake the nation won’t stomach a second time don't think Michigan needs much convincing to abandon the president. As a result of this conventional and out of touch way of thinking, little has been done to swing the state. The Democratic presidential candidates so far have done a poor job of articulating a compelling economic vision that matters to this nation’s forgotten communities. 

For example, while Trump was in the state this week demonstrating yet again that the road to the White House for him runs through Michigan, none of the so-called leading Democratic contenders visited the state to counter the president’s antics and offer a different vision from what he shared at his Christmas rally.

On the same day the president was politically serenading his supporters, Attorney General William Barr visited Detroit to launch an anti-violent crime measure, an indication of where the city sits on the national crime index and a vexing reminder of the crisis of urban poverty. 

More:AG William Barr: Crime-reduction operation launches in Detroit

The irony is that the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination have not adequately addressed an urban agenda which will resonate in places like Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor, Pontiac and other urban centers. Any prospective Democratic nominee hoping to win Michigan must understand that the issues in the urban core of the state must be dealt with head on and not treated as an afterthought. 

The Democratic debate held in Detroit in July failed to capture some of the grueling issues of inequality facing urban voters and the rest of the state.

The Democratic debate held in Detroit in July failed to capture some of the grueling issues of inequality facing urban voters and the rest of the state. The debate presented an opportunity for Democrats to speak to black America, a significant voting bloc, but the candidates virtually failed. Detroit was just a venue — another carefully crafted political forum for the candidates to offer canned speeches as answers.

The subsequent debates that followed Detroit have not improved either. In fact at this point, I have lost interest in the debates. They are nothing but speech contests yielding squabbles over who can garner the most attention in the national spotlight.

The fact that Democrats have not yet decided on a potential nominee as other contenders like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg join the race shows how chaotic the race has become. This only enhances Trump’s reelection chances.

None of the current candidates have shown that they have the political muscle to go up against Trump. Biden, the favorite of party insiders and status-quo white liberals, isn’t the answer. If he is nominated, the party could face a deeply divided campaign against itself because Biden represents largely all the things that have gone wrong in the past at a time when new voices are emerging to change the direction of the party. 

Democrat's lack of focus on the issues and the persistent questions about the electability of their candidates aren't helping them win Michigan.