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Do Democrats Not Understand 2020 Voters?

Historically, we Americans have been among the world's most optimistic people. Why? One reason could be that every American, with the exception of those whose ancestors were already here when Columbus arrived or those whose ancestors were brought here in chains, is either herself an immigrant or the direct lineal descendant of immigrants. To be an immigrant — to leave family, friends and familiar places; to dare to strike out across the sea or the continent to a foreign place; to live among people you have never seen; to speak a language you have never heard — is an act requiring enormous human courage. But being an immigrant is also a testament to optimism that here, in this blessed country, we are free to improve our lives and the lives of those who follow us.

That special American optimism has influenced our political choices of national leaders. Even after a president sorely disappoints us, we somehow remain confident that we will find in the next leader the qualities missing in the flawed predecessor. Think about it: Richard Nixon, after serving in the U.S. House, the Senate and two terms as Dwight Eisenhower's vice president, may have been our most experienced and credentialed president. After the criminality and corruption of Watergate and Nixon's resignation in disgrace, in the next election came former one-term Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, lacking in Washington experience and promising never to lie to the American people.

But Carter, a conscientious, intelligent and honorable man facing economic problems, seemed to change his mind a lot. So, in 1980, voters, looking for the opposite, chose the ideological leader of the nation's minority party, Republican Ronald Reagan, who had not changed his mind since 1962.

President George H.W. Bush, who essentially "won Ronald Reagan's third term," faced rough economic seas in his reelection, and when the president appeared confounded by an electronic scanner at a grocery checkout counter, voters doubted their president understood the hard times they were enduring. Enter Democrat Bill Clinton telling voters "I feel your pain." Voters found the empathetic, connected leader they were then looking for.

After eight years of Clinton, by a 2-to-1 margin, American voters judged their nation to be "headed in the right direction," and the president enjoyed a 65 percent favorable job rating. Yet an electorate, disappointed and angry by disclosures of the president's lies, self-indulgence and adultery in the White House, responded to George W. Bush's promise to "restore dignity to the Oval Office."

You get the point. So, what about 2020? When the Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll asked Americans whether Donald Trump has "the right temperament to be president," by more than 3-1, voters said no. When asked whether Trump was "knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency," voters again answered no by 2-1. On being "steady and reliable," voters answered no by 2-1, and on "dealing with an international crisis," Trump received a 2-1 negative response from the voters. American voters are exhausted from the controversies, the outbursts, the haranguing and the intemperance which have characterized this presidency.

So, what do the Democratic candidates in their last debate before Super Tuesday do? They bicker; they shout; they talk over one another; they yell —- exactly what the voters do not want in 2020. The only two exceptions from this vantage point were the two former mayors, Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg, who lowered the emotional thermostat and spoke in audible but not relentlessly abrasive language. Believe me; voters in 2020 are not looking to replace Donald Trump with a Democratic version of the incumbent. We want someone who has demonstrated competence, knowledge and maturity. We want someone who does not need to be on Twitter, on TV and in our faces 24/7. We're looking for what's missing — not for more of the same.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Poll: Democratic Congress Sees Rising Support For 2020 Re-Election

Roughly six in 10 Americans say their member of Congress deserves to be reelected in November, according to a Gallup poll released Monday. That level of support is almost 10 points higher than in early 2018, when Republicans were still in control of the House of Representatives.

In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats picked up 40 House seats and won back the House majority for the first time in almost a decade. Many of the Democratic victories came from suburban districts, including areas that were once Republican strongholds like Orange County, California.

“Democrats have a solid majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the elevated 59 percent of Americans saying their member of Congress deserves reelection augurs well for their bid to maintain their majority next year,” Gallup wrote about the poll.

A higher percentage of Americans saying their member of Congress deserves to be reelected correlates with a higher percentage of Congress members who are reelected the following November, Gallup noted. Gallup pointed to high reelection rates from 1998 through 2004, which corresponded with Americans’ relatively high support of their member of Congress.

“It’s gonna be pretty tough for Republicans to get back in the majority,” Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), a member of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, said in a phone interview in early February, before the Gallup poll was released. Bera pointed to different data to back up his claim: polls that ask Americans if they favor voting for a generic Democrat or a generic Republican.

This type of generic polling is “usually is a good indicator of what folks are thinking,” Bera said.

According to an average of these generic polls from FiveThirtyEight, Democrats currently have a 7-point lead over Republicans, 48 percent to 41 percent. On Election Day 2018, Democrats held a 9-point lead, 51 percent to 42 percent.

If 2019 statewide elections are a precursor for what could happen in 2020, Democrats like Bera have more data points to support their optimism.

Louisiana re-elected Gov. John Bel Edward, a Democrat, in a state Trump carried by 20 points in 2016. In Kentucky, voters ousted Republican Gov. Matt Bevins in favor of Democrat Andy Beshear.

Further, voters in Virginia elected a Democratic majority to the state House and state Senate, giving Democrats control of the legislature and governorship for the first time in 26 years.

“Never say never,” Bera said, “but if I were making a wager, I would say we’re going to retain the House majority.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Before Building The Future, Democrats Must Repair Trump’s Damage

Like all candidates, Democrats focus their campaigns on what they will do if elected. Progressives often accuse Joe Biden in particular of wanting to take America back to the Barack Obama years. And it’s true that Biden often portrays his candidacy as a restoration of the era in which he served as Obama’s vice president.

But that’s not a bad stance for any of the Democrats to take. They and their followers must understand that to move forward, America must first move back. The next president must reverse much of the damage President Donald Trump has wrought. The work will be considerable.

We must rejoin our Western allies in honoring international agreements that still make sense. That would include the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. It reduced sanctions on that country in return for its freezing its nuclear program. Not perfect, but it was working.

After Trump broke the agreement, Iran said it was free to develop nuclear weapons. A nuclear-armed Iran would be a nightmare.

Washington must rejoin civilization’s fight against global warming. Trump has almost completed our removal from the Paris climate agreement. Our abandoning it marks a surrender to environmental catastrophe. Some countries are not cutting carbons as they should. America and its conscientious allies can pressure them only if they lead by example.

Trump has shredded regulations curbing the release of planet-warming gases. Some actions were so perverse — weakening restrictions on methane gas emissions, for example — that even industries meant to benefit said they didn’t want them.

How is it that a beautiful and prosperous nation would consent to being turned into a dump? Among Trump’s 95 environmental rollbacks, completed or in progress, was a repeal of the limit on pollution thrown in rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands that are connected to large waterways covered by the Clean Water Act.

He’s weakening protections for migratory birds and endangered species. He’s opening fabulous landscapes to industry. The most recent outrage was a move to allow drilling and mining on land that was part of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

New leadership must reverse the campaign to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Trump has already disabled some of the means for funding the ACA. The law must be strengthened, and then it can be expanded.

The next president must turn off the administration’s green light for predatory lenders and their disgraceful abuse of ordinary people. He or she could start by undoing scandalous changes in the student loan system.

Bring back the norms of behavior expected of government leaders. Begin with the easy stuff: Stop bigoted attacks on racial and ethnic minorities. End the blatant self-dealing for personal enrichment. And restore the respect once extended to America’s military leaders and diplomats.

Some on the left have criticized the Obama presidency as a lost opportunity to push more progressive goals. Obama should have been tougher on Wall Street, they say, and should have pressed for a stronger government hand in health care.

But Obama was plenty progressive given the awful hand he was dealt. He arrived in the middle of a crashing economy. With the financial system in near collapse, he couldn’t risk bringing down what was still standing. The auto industry, meanwhile, was on the edge of bankruptcy. Obama’s plate was full. That he managed to push through health reforms, bringing coverage to millions, was no small feat — doubly so given the Republican opposition that vowed to make him fail.

And so the future must start with an immense repair job. Starting a new Democratic administration where 2016 left off does not leave it in 2016. Once America gets back to some kind of stable normality, we can start moving forward.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

America’s Laziest Headline? ‘Democrats In Disarray’

The laziest and most common campaign story right now is a version of the following:

“The Democrats are in disarray!”

“The Democrats are failing to coalesce around a single candidate!”

“The Democrats are handing this election to the Republicans!”

Add a story or two about the Iowa caucus-trophe, capture a few screenshots of online bickering between candidates’ supporters and throw in a quote from a primary voter who didn’t make up her mind about how she was going to vote until she walked across the parking lot at her polling place — and ta-dah! You, too, could write a story to match these recent headlines.

Politico: Trump’s ‘dream scenario’ unfolds: Dem disarray ahead of 2020.

Reuters: Democrats in disarray ahead of New Hampshire.

Axios: Democratic disarray, dysfunction.

The Hill: Democrats in disarray: 2020 election at risk.

A question: When were Democrats not in disarray?

Democrats have always been the collective curly mop top next to the lacquered comb-over. They may swirl and twirl, but even after a heavy rain, they bounce back.

My earliest memory of Democratic politics in our house was the election of John F. Kennedy — a Catholic! I was too young to remember the campaign, but I was familiar with my working-class father’s protestant prejudice at an early age. He was likely one of those primary voters for Adlai Stevenson.

What I do remember is how Dad bragged later about voting for Kennedy in the general election. He ordered a framed presidential portrait of JFK and hung it next to Jesus on a wall in our living room. That Jack-and-Jesus wall was a mainstay of my childhood. If Jesus ever voted, Dad said, he’d be a Democrat.

Another question: What month is it?

February — months and months away from this primary’s end, and even more months from the general election.

You’d never know that from discussion threads on Democratic voters’ Facebook pages, but that’s who we’ve always been — only now we’ve got emojis.

Each of us brings our own biases and emotions to the selection of a presidential candidate, which is why the primary can feel so personal. Our person wins; we feel affirmed. Ours doesn’t; we feel rejected.

When was the last time rejection brought out the best in you?

And now, a word about our impeached president.

Less than a week after all but one Republican senator voted to acquit him on both counts of impeachment, Trump has started seeking his revenge.

At the National Prayer Breakfast, he mocked the faith of Sen. Mitt Romney, a devout Mormon who cited his faith in his decision to vote to convict Trump of abuse of power. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry, was fired from the White House, along with his twin brother. Now Trump is calling for disciplinary action against him.

Last Tuesday night, four of the federal prosecutors working on the obstruction and perjury case of Trump’s friend, Roger J. Stone Jr., withdrew from the case after the Justice Department overruled their recommendation that Stone be sentenced to prison for seven to nine years. One of the prosecutors resigned.

As usual, Trump brayed about this conquest on Twitter:

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”

He went after the judge who will be deciding Stone’s fate: “Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!”

He also posted a photo of him standing next to Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on a golf course: “Mini Mike is a short ball (very) hitter. Tiny club head speed. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

Meanwhile, the Republican senators who enabled this latest round of Trump’s menacing and possibly illegal behavior remain in hiding from America’s journalists.

But sure.

The Democrats are in disarray.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two nonfiction books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. Her novel, “The Daughters of Erietown,” will be published by Random House in spring 2020. To find out more about Connie Schultz (schultz.connie@gmail.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.