(Getty/AP/Salon)

With polling advantage, Democrats need to push for progressive candidates

Putting forth a generic Democrat in 2020 would be short-sighted, and offers no vision for the future


Charlie May
December 21, 2017 8:39PM (UTC)

The most pressing issue of the 2020 election is more than merely defeating President Donald Trump, it's about upending the decades of political decay — something both parties are guilty of — because the status quo framework is what allowed a reality TV star to thrive in the first place.

A story penned by Bill Scher of Politico makes the case for the opposite, arguing that a "generic Democrat," like Alabama Senator-elect Doug Jones, would be the best choice for Democrats in 2020. Sure, it very well could solve the nation's Trump problem, but does it give the public a meaningful vision for the future? Likely not.

Advertisement:

Scher cited a Nov. 22. Morning Consult/Politico poll in which the results showed a generic Democratic candidate has a nine-point wider margin of victory over Trump than Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., should he run for the presidency again in 2020. Both the generic Democrat and Sanders would defeat Trump in the hypothetical match-up. Other recent polling suggests that Sanders still reigns as the most popular politician in the country.

A Morning Consult poll from Thursday shows high voter enthusiasm, specifically among Democrats. That enthusiasm should be tapped into with a progressive vision forward, not with a "generic" centrist that could lead to voter apathy.

"The Senate’s newest member did not embrace single-payer health care, free college or a $15 minimum wage," Scher wrote. "He did not swerve right on abortion and guns. In fact, he didn’t have any signature policy proposals at all."

He added, "He was boring. He was safe. He was Mr. Generic Democrat. And it worked." That candidate sounds quite familiar, because it sounds like Hillary Clinton, who lost.

All of this overlooks the disgraceful candidate Jones went up against: Roy Moore, an accused sexual predator. Still, Jones barely won. The historic turnout from black Americans gifted Jones a victory, but it's quite clear that they weren't thrilled about Jones, but they were motivated against his opponent.

Scher was right in his analysis that Jones was perhaps the ideal image for a generic candidate, though that's hardly compelling enough for any voter who hopes to see a change in Washington, one that's for the better, one that advocates for needs of the many.

Advertisement:

Scher argued that if the Democrats just "stay out of the way and out of the fray" they have a clear path to victory because Trump "has a rabid base but not much else."

"He [Trump] won last year without a popular-vote majority and his support has eroded ever since, with a national job approval rating mired in the 30s for most of 2017," Scher wrote. "This month’s Des Moines Register poll shows only 35 percent of Iowans remain on board the Trump train, an ominous sign for a president who squeaked into office by a mere 70,000 votes in certain key Electoral College states."

Advertisement:

The anti-establishment wave, whether it from the left or from the right, should serve as a clear indicator that candidates who have relished in being moderates, and never stood for much at all, are the ones that have brought us here.

The shortcomings of both parties are responsible for the social unrest and increased polarization. A generic candidate will not usher in something new or have a vision that addresses the root of what's wrong with America's political apparatus. Scher's argument assumes politics prior to Jan. 20, 2016, was fair, bipartisan and served the needs of the American people.

Granted, there's good reason to believe a more leftist candidate wouldn't have fared any better in Alabama. But there's also good reason to believe that the sheer fact that Moore was an accused sexual predator, which put him in national spotlight for weeks, means he would have lost against nearly any other candidate.  .

Advertisement:

A generic Democrat could very well defeat Trump in 2020, but why should voters settle for someone deemed safe and boring? A short-term gain could lead to a devastating setback by a once again fired up opposition that has proven it will cast aside any, and all morals, to achieve victory.


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

MORE FROM Charlie May



Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •