What the Democrats Can Learn from Republicans Going Into 2020
by Christian Decker
I know what you’re thinking. “Why would you even suggest something like this. Do you honestly think Democrats should move to the right in this upcoming election cycle?”
Of course not. I’d like to think I’m a pretty liberal guy and that our system should work for everyone. However, when it comes to organization and strategy, the Democrats have not exactly had the best strategy for dealing with Trump in the past few elections.
Historically speaking, the Democrats have almost always been like this. Since the early 1900s, the Democratic National Convention has been a slugfest between several different candidates. Each convention typically ends with people leaving feeling unhappy and not voting for the nominee, voting third party, and in some cases, voting for the Republican nominee.
While I fundamentally disagree with pretty much every Republican policy stance, I think there are things the Democrats can learn from recent Republican strategy in order to gear up for this crucial 2020 election. Feel free to agree or disagree.
Number One: Get your shit together
As I mentioned earlier, Democratic National Conventions have been absolute nightmares. From the split over whether or not to support an anti-prohibition plank in the 1920s during John J. Raskob’s controversial time as national chairman, to 2016’s massive Bernie vs. Hillary debacle, the Democrats certainly know how to put on a show. If not highly entertaining, I’ve often found it makes them look extremely disorganized.
In contrast, the Republicans are usually able to figure out who the nominee is right before the convention. Hell, we all knew Trump was going to be the nominee going into 2016. I mean who was prepared to stop him, Jeb “Please Clap” Bush? With the process going so smoothly, this allows the Republicans to get massive airtime spent more on boosting up the prospective nominees’ numbers than watching the nominees scramble for delegates, making the coming election fight a little easier.
The Democrats need a well-organized convention this year, facing an incumbent Republican President. All that needs to happen for Trump is basically for the convention to lose power every single day. If the Democrats can manage to pull off a show of unity and strength, they might have a better shot at contending with Trump.
Number Two: Don’t be afraid to fight dirty
Since 2016, pundits and media personalities have been making the claim that politics has lost its civility. It’s honestly one of the most ridiculous claims I have ever heard. Politics hasn’t been civil since the founding of this country. During Andrew Jackson’s bid for reelection, members of his cabinet socially shunned Peggy Eaton, the wife of his Secretary of War John Henry Eaton, because of the questionable nature of their marriage. Martin Van Buren used this scandal to his advantage in launching one of the first, “mudslinging” campaigns in our political history.
As much as I hate to admit it, Donald Trump has used mudslinging almost to perfection over his years in the political spotlight. As much as the nicknames and the stupid slogans sound childish, they make great soundbites, and they pump people up. As much as Democrats like to claim the moral high ground, it gives them nothing in a race like this. You have to go after them where it hurts. Strike their weakest points, go after the tax returns, harp on the infidelity. You may not stir the strongest supporters, but the undecided independents, and the people who only voted for Trump because they didn’t like Hillary will start to come around.
Number Three: Fire up your base
This kind of goes along with my last point. Trump has no doubt been the most successful out of any candidate so far at knowing how to win support. These fans can be fanatical, and you’ve seen the footage from some of these events. Putting up pictures of empty venues helps nothing. The art of these campaign-style rallies helps Trump maintain support and get people fired up at the perceived enemy: Democrats the media.
Democrats need to figure out what makes people excited. Bernie was actually pretty good at this. Although his plans haven’t exactly been concrete, his big ideas like free college allowed many people to start a movement that resonated, especially with young people. They need to get, and stay, organized, and make sure that people get out to vote. That is perhaps the most important task in firing up you base: making sure that they have access to polling and fighting vehemently against voter suppression.
Republicans vote the most consistently, but if Democrats can avoid claiming victory too soon, they’ll create a need for voters to go to the polls. Emphasizing the dire nature of the situation also helps guilt people into making their voice heard.
Number 4: Don’t play favorites
If the Democrats should learn anything, it’s that the disaster of the 2016 election was not helped by the favoritism that was attributed to the DNC and revealed in email leaks for Hillary Clinton. Playing favorites alienates people, and causes infighting within the party that further divides what could be a untied front. After the nomination, the Democrats have to work hard at finding a platform that unifies people, not one that is passable in a boring election year. This is important now more than ever.
This is easier for Republicans, I’ll admit. The two Republican factions are the Evangelicals and small-government conservatives and libertarians. Although they agree on some issues, after the nomination, they’ve successfully been able to excuse almost anything in order to win. Their ideas really aren’t that far apart. Democrats need to overcome the difference between the moderate and liberal wings of the party. This has been an issue since FDR, but it’s one that they have to fix.
I hope that these tips provide insight into some new strategies the Democrats could try and I hope they inspire discussion about what people can do to make their voice heard in the coming election.