If President Donald Trump were actually failing, the case against his re-election would be straightforward.
It would not be necessary, for example, to propose radical new proposals like the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and federally-funded abortion through birth.
Instead, Democratic presidential contenders would be talking about getting back to the basics: growing the economy, creating jobs, defending the homeland. Instead, the Democrats are reaching for utopia.
The problem that Democrats face in 2020 is that Trump is, in fact, doing his job.
Economic growth is around 3 percent — a level that the previous administration told us not to expect. Unemployment is at 3.6%, the lowest levels in almost half a century; women and minorities are benefiting in particular. Trump has wiped out the so-called “Islamic State,” and while challenges remain, his foreign policy is scoring wins — most recently in the immigration deal with Mexico.
Some of the Democratic candidates are making a half-hearted effort to pretend otherwise. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), for example, continues to insist life is worse for the working class, but in reality working class wages are rising under Trump’s policies. Former vice president Joe Biden has acknowledged Trump’s economic success — “America’s coming back like we used to be,” he declared in April — but claims the Obama administration actually deserves the credit.
Meanwhile, the Democratic field stampedes to the left.
Biden, who is casting himself as a more moderate alternative to Sanders (while rejecting the word “moderate”), has joined the herd. This week he reiterated a promise to raise taxes as his first act in office. Earlier this month, he abandoned his long-standing opposition to federal funding for abortion and joined calls to abolish the Hyde amendment. The man who boosted Solyndra now says a Green New Deal is “crucial.”
The latter is the brainchild of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the young insurgent whose social media savvy has made her the ideological leader of the Democratic Party. Every one of the 24 Democratic presidential candidates covets her endorsement. But the candidates were largely silent this week when she compared the detention centers for migrants at the southern border to the “concentration camps” of the Holocaust. None dares question AOC’s authority.
The leftward shift of the Democratic field is partly a result of internal party dynamics, an effort to court the progressive base that supplies the bulk of donations, volunteers, and energy. But it is also a result of the way Democrats have come to think about politics. They are no longer preoccupied with the messy task of governing, which requires pragmatism, compromise, and grounding in reality. Today’s Democratic Party is more an aesthetic movement than a political party.
There will be no “Sister Souljah” moments. No Democrat wants to be singled out as the “centrist,” the one too eager to court the middle-class voters the party still thinks it represents, and which it lost to Trump in 2016 (though Biden has been eager to reassure wealthy donors he will not “demonize” them). Instead, the 2020 candidates talk about restoring “unity,” by which they mean intersectionality, a coalition of left-wing identity groups (pro-Israel Jews need not apply).
Democrats also repeat the refrain, once championed by “Never Trump” Republicans, that Trump lacks the character to be president — though they have to stoop to lies, like the Charlottesville hoax, to make their case.
But if that were good enough, all they would need to do is point to their own records of success. The fact that they are all promising radical departures from the status quo is a sign of how little they have to offer — and how well President Trump is performing.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.