NEW YORK – Democrats have regained the House, but nobody is shouting from the rooftops that President Donald Trump is a loser. Instead, there is queasy feeling for critics that Trump showed strategic rallying, savvy vote gathering skills in the final days of the run-up to the midterms. He helped Republicans increase gains in the Senate. A persistent thought lingers at the back of the mind: come 2020, Trump will again romp home the winner.
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore made a pertinent remark on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, following the midterm results. He opined that front runner leaders like Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker for the Democrat ticket would lose against Trump in the 2020 election. He suggested the party should nominate a “beloved American” like Michelle Obama instead, reported Fox News.
“No,” he said about Harris. “Love her. No, not going to happen. Cory — love him. No. We cannot run a politician against [Trump]. We will lose. We have to run a beloved American,” he added. “Obama became beloved the night of that convention and he was beloved from that moment on. It’s got to be like a Michelle Obama or a Sully Sullenberger.”
That’s a hard blow for Harris’s White House aspirations, if Moore’s words prove prophetic. She has shown exceptional fundraising drive for the midterm elections. She made her intentions clear by pitching herself in presidential mode rallies in Iowa and Ohio.
The Hill reported last month that Harris raised more money for her leadership PAC than any other senator. She raised more than $2.3 million this election cycle for her Fearless for the People PAC, according to a report published by Issue One, a nonpartisan think tank. Former Vice President Joe Biden followed her, raising a shade under $2.3 million, while Booker has about $1 million.
Now, Harris has got into a bit of controversy over her fundraising.
Lmtonline.com reported that on November 8, Harris tweeted a link to a fundraiser for Dem challenger Stacey Abrams, who has not conceded to incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, alleging fraudulent voter suppression.
However, the link by Harris to raise money manipulated it; half of an individual’s contribution would go to her war chest, the other half to Abrams – unless the contributor made a physical change online to direct the flow of money. Some donors saw this as a cash grab in poor taste by Harris, an outsider from California, the report said.
Perhaps, the biggest problem for Harris is to carve strong name recognition across America, not just within California, and Senate chambers. Harris has to catapult herself over other Dem front runners as a leader with ability to flip red leaning states into the blue column.
And paramount, become as ‘beloved’ as Michelle Obama is, across America, not just in liberal and socialist dominated pockets who might still vote for Bernie Sanders, anyway. Harris has only a limited time, just over a year or so, to promote herself and the concept of how to ‘Make America Stay Great’.
A vast swath of America is getting used to the idea of Trump’s vision to limit immigration levels using executive powers, force other countries to kowtow to his trade deals, and protect the interests of American workers.
There is no arguing that women from different backgrounds and faith were the biggest winners in the midterms, and a woman will have momentum going into the run-up against Trump.
But if Democrats don’t utilize their power in the House to advantage, there is too much acrimony and stalling tactics on legislation, voters will quickly get disillusioned with the new lot they voted to power.
The idea of a relative newcomer to the Senate like Harris to shape the course of America and topple Trump would not bolster confidence, despite her exemplary track record and abilities as a lawmaker.
Michelle Obama, on the other hand, seems a far more favorable choice than Harris, if she were to run. Trump, would be on the defensive from Day 1 of her announcement, and would find it hard to lambast her, at the cost of disapproval of most women in America.
Trump has been quick to recognize this hidden threat.
Obama writes in her new forthcoming memoir ‘Becoming’ that she will never forgive Trump for his role in promoting the “birther” conspiracy theory that falsely claimed that her husband was not born in the United States. She writes that Trump’s central role in pushing the falsehood put her family at risk, reported CNN.
Obama wrote in her book that the so-called “birther” movement was “crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks.”
Obama also recounts how her “body buzzed with fury” after hearing Trump’s candid lewd comments about grabbing women by their private parts.
“It was an expression of hatred that had generally been kept out of polite company, but still lived in the marrow of our supposedly enlightened society — alive and accepted enough that someone like Donald Trump could afford to be cavalier about it,” she wrote.
Trump’s response to Obama’s words was a surprisingly moderate and diplomatic one, by his own standards. He shot back with this retort, on November 9, according to CNN: “She got paid a lot of money to write a book and they always expect a little controversy”.
In a few words Obama managed to bring into focus some of the deep resentment against Trump which led to a GOP rout in the House, which will likely be a focal point in the 2020 elections as well.
But it would need a Michelle Obama, and not a Kamala Harris to reiterate those words, and get similar kind of impact which saw the GOP “devastation in traditional, high-income suburban bastions is unmistakable,” as Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of “The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism,” put it, writing in The Washington Post.
“Districts in suburban Atlanta, Houston and Dallas that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 by between 15 and 24 points went Democratic. Districts that Republicans had held for decades outside Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia fell. The blue tide even swept away a GOP seat in Oklahoma City. This trend was more than a coastal fad,” Olsen wrote.
James Antle III, writing in Washington Examiner, noted, however that the GOP is not totally over the hill: “Come 2020, the GOP will need to gain only a dozen or so seats to retake the House, a mark it can easily meet by focusing on working-class Democratic districts and some close, mixed seats that Republican candidates barely lost this week.”
And that’s the fear that pervades the ranks of the Democrats despite their impressive gains in the House. The victory could dissipate fast in under two years’ time, and Trump become more popular. Unless they find the right leader to fight him.
Antle III wrote: “Trump’s ability to turn out the base remains strong. The president practically willed Mike Braun across the finish line in Indiana’s Senate race. He was helpful to Josh Hawley in Missouri and Kevin Cramer in North Dakota. Republicans came up short in Montana and West Virginia, but shaved Democratic leads into the single digits. A Democratic-controlled House will now be part of the problem.”
So, who will the Democrats root for, in case of a toss-up between Obama and Harris for the Dem ticket? Perhaps, you are thinking on the lines I am too.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)