Bankole: Democrats need an Obama coalition to win in 2020
After the New Hampshire primary, the real question that matters now for the Democratic Party is which presidential candidate is best positioned to deny President Donald Trump a second term.
If defeating Trump is the ultimate goal, Democrats are going to need a candidate who embodies the country’s mass discontent.
Merely touting the impeachment vote and the Mueller probe isn't going to do it, and neither is parading Trump’s personal misconduct in office.
Democrats are going to have to present a candidate who can ride the anti-establishment wave that Barack Obama represented in 2008 and 2012.
The Obama coalition was made up of blacks, Hispanics, women, millennials and independents who believed in the “Yes We Can” campaign and saw it as both a political and moral statement against plutocracy.
The mistake that Democrats made in the last presidential cycle was running a pro-establishment and deeply unpopular candidate, Hillary Clinton, who was banking on the Obama coalition to carry her to victory.
That coalition stayed home for the most part because Clinton did not embody the qualities that they were looking for, and in many ways was the personification of the Washington establishment that every populist candidate rails against.
Even as she won the popular vote, Clinton lost the presidency in the states that matter most in the Electoral College, including Michigan, where the Obama coalition could have ensured a victory.
Moreover, Trump ran on a populist mantra that succeeded in convincing his supporters and independents that he was going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C.. That populist drive is still alive, and Trump is going to reignite it as he mounts a vigorous campaign bent on ensuring that he gets a second term no matter what the Democrats plan to do to stop him.
Unless Democrats are willing to give the election away to Trump for the second time, their failure to marshal an Obama coalition the last time around should serve as a wake-up call as the bloody nomination battle heads into the more diverse states where the black vote is going to play a crucial role ahead of Super Tuesday.
Because Trump’s rise is in large part a direct response to the Obama presidency, Democrats should be making the case about why this nation’s future truly lies in an Obama coalition that speaks to the essence of our multiracial democracy.
Hardly any of the candidates are talking in those terms.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who like Clinton expects a ready-made Obama coalition instead of creating one, now has to worry about the viability of his campaign because of his many failures to connect with people.
If Sen. Bernie Sanders expects to be the nominee, his campaign will have to do more to build a multiracial coalition with crossover appeal that speaks to the future of young blacks and other minority groups — not just white millennials.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is pulling a surprising upset in the nomination fight, also has some unresolved racial issues during his time as mayor that he hasn’t adequately addressed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign issued a memo this week outlining her path to the nomination. But none of that will matter if she can’t gain traction with the various constituencies that can deliver a win for Democrats in November.
Despite his war chest, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has a long way to go in creating a winning coalition after a recent tape from the Aspen Institute surfaced about a 2015 speech he gave. In it he offered a very dark worldview about stop-and-frisk policing in black and brown communities, saying “Throw them against the wall and frisk them.”
While the Democratic nomination remains unsettled, one thing is clear: Trump’s reelection is not beyond the bounds of reality.
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