Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Global

The Democrats and Democracy: 2020 is about values, not ideology

By Lisa Van Dusen      

In normal circumstances, beating Trump in 2020 would be a laugher. But again, in normal circumstances, he wouldn’t be … you know.

Among the 24 people vying for the Democratic presidential nomination are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. The Democrats can beat Donald Trump by offering a combination of the solutions of the future and the best of their own party, writes Lisa Van Dusen. Flickr photographs by Tim Pierce, Marc Nozell, Gage Skidmore, and The Hill Times file photograph
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

There is nothing Donald Trump—and the interests who have an existential stake in his unlikely political longevity—would enjoy more than watching the Democrats devour each other on the road to 2020.

The current field of 24 candidates makes this primary campaign potentially the largest Democratic circular firing squad since the fateful 1968 Chicago convention. This race is unfolding in an environment of hyper-tactical politics that includes the narrative-bending variables of weaponized proxies, triangulated rat-f**ks, pointedly-timed IED content, and the lunatic, oxygen-sucking colour commentary of the nominally Republican incumbent. The chances of this process degenerating into a circus are nearly as high as they were in 2016, with the partial exposure of the distorting elements of that cycle having helped, somewhat, to mitigate a disaster.

One of the by-products of our hyperconnected existence is that the perpetual stream of incoming headlines clouds perspective. When you’re constantly processing new information based on 100 interpretations of what happened 10 minutes ago, or this morning, or yesterday afternoon, it’s harder to consider events in the context of the past 10, 20, or 50 years.

The fact is that the Democratic Party is not defined by its most viral voices, its most vocal detractors, or its most relentless opportunists. Before the preposterous, disruptive presidency of Donald Trump turned the White House into a conveyor belt of lizard-brain triggers with a tachometer permanently set to tilt, it was occupied by Barack Obama, a president who made rational decisions, took advice from experts, considered the well-being of his fellow citizens (Democrats and Republicans) and those of other countries above his own and, for that matter, those of brutal dictators. He didn’t troll Bette Midler while on foreign soil marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day. And, he won the first back-to-back popular vote majorities for the Democrats since FDR.

That wasn’t 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. It was as recent as Lemonade and the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Only it wasn’t Game of Thrones because the party was generally united. If you want a reminder of that not-so-long-ago era and a window on the soul of the Democratic Party, watch the clips from the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte; the America-reflecting diversity of both the crowd and the speakers, the uplifting, inclusive messaging, the reassuring absence of Dirty Harry having an imaginary conversation with an IKEA Volfgang barstool on live television. It wasn’t some gossamer, pre-Trumpian Utopia. It was reality, before reality got replaced by a reality show.

Which is really the major issue in this campaign. Nothing else will get fixed—not climate change, not technological disruption, not health care, and certainly not economic inequality—until American democracy is fixed.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has been hijacked by interests who saw the transformative, lucrative opportunities for networked corruption (the corrupt mortgage-driven financial cataclysm, the corrupt pharma-driven opioid epidemic, Facebook), covert outcome manipulation (through unprecedented surveillance, hacking and misinformation), and economic disruption through the gutting of business models and glutting of content markets (in journalism and entertainment, for starters). Rights are under attack, with abortion rights being the beachhead of that effort because reproductive rights—which come pre-polarizing and fraught with easily leveraged cultural, religious and gender cargo—are low-hanging fruit.

This U.S. election cycle isn’t about ideology; it’s about values. The Democrats can beat Donald Trump by offering a combination of the solutions of the future and the politics of not so much of the past as of the best—past and present—of their own party.

Lisa Van Dusen is associate editor of Policy Magazine and was a Washington and New York-based editor at UPI, AP, and ABC. She writes a weekly column for The Hill Times.

The Hill Times

Explore, analyze, understand
Guide to Using Social and Digital Tools in Election Campaigns: Digital and Social Tools that Politicos are Using to get Elected, Raise Funds, and Recruit Volunteers
Guide to Using Social and Digital Tools in Election Campaigns

Get the book
Charting the CBC’s challenging present and uncertain future
Charting the CBC's challenging present and uncertain future: Where it has been and where it is going provides an insider profile of the struggles faced by Canada’s public broadcaster in the 21st century.

Get the book
You Might Be From Canada If…
You Might Be From Canada If . . . is a delightful, illustrated romp through this country as it celebrates its 150th birthday.

Get the book

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.

Strategic voting to determine if Liberals will form government, say political players

News|By Abbas Rana
As many as nine per cent of progressive voters could vote strategically in this close election potentially affecting the outcome in more than 100 ridings, says Innovative Research president Greg Lyle.

Turkish offensive should pressure feds to act on repatriation of Canadian citizens in Kurdish-controlled ISIS detention camps, says expert

News|By Neil Moss
The issue of repatriation will be less politically fraught after the election, says expert.

Business tops experience among 2019 candidates, one-third have run for office before

Here’s an analysis of the record 1,700-plus candidates running for the six major parties this election.

Pod save us all: the growing role of political podcasts in election 2019

News|By Mike Lapointe
The Hill Times spoke with some podcast hosts taking a deeper dive into the political nitty-gritty, within a medium that only continues to grow in popularity.

No-shows from Conservative candidate could hurt party’s chances in tight Kanata-Carleton race, say politicos

News|By Palak Mangat
The Conservative's candidate, Justin McCaffrey, has skipped two events, including a debate on the environment, intended to feature all candidates.

For whom will the bell toll in Peterborough-Kawartha?

In a riding where voters are deeply engaged in the political process, candidates avoid the low-hanging fruit and stay out of the mud as they grapple with who to send to the House of Commons.

Singh’s strong campaign an internal win, whatever the outcome, New Democrats say

Jagmeet Singh’s impressive campaign has ‘rescued’ and ‘refocused’ the NDP after the failed 2015 effort, Ed Broadbent says.

The astrophysicist whose polling aggregator is projecting the election

News|By Neil Moss
The mastermind behind 338Canada, poll aggregator Philippe Fournier, is aiming to correctly call 90 per cent of the seats in the Oct. 21 race.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.