“It’s gonna make ‘The Circus’ look like a zoo.” — Mark McKinnon, GOP presidential strategist and creator/producer/host of “The Circus,” Showtime’s political documentary series, when asked to comment on the headline above.
In “normal” pre-Trump times, the next presidential campaign began the day after the midterm elections. Now, in the Trump TV Twitter Era, with all remnants of political normalcy extinguished, the 2020 Democratic primary campaign has already been raging for months.
“The presidential field is likely to be so crowded and brutal that no one wants to wait,” according to Axios’s Mike Allen.
But come 2020, when the Democratic nominee wages war against the president, he or she will experience the new meaning of “brutal” when delivered with a Trump-force multiplier.
Before we discuss why 2020 is on tap to be the most vicious, ruthless, and unpredictable presidential campaign in history, Democrats should be reminded of two overarching and inconvenient math facts:
Since our nation’s founding, the re-election rate for incumbent presidents stands at 68.7%, but 100% for the last three — all of whom were often unpopular and controversial during their first term.
And the conclusion based on the math?
The opposing party must never underestimate the power of incumbency — especially when that incumbent is Donald J. Trump. Aside from incumbency, here are five reasons why every American voter, including all Trump lovers and haters, should fear and loathe the forthcoming “zoo.”
1. “Category 5” extreme intensity
Anyone who has followed politics for decades will agree that the histrionics, assets, energy, and passion displayed during the 2018 midterm cycle is more on par with the 2016 presidential election.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon framed the intense vibe of the midterm electorate, telling Fox News’s Sean Hannity, “I think this is President Trump’s first re-elect.”
Similar to a presidential re-election campaign, there has been solid 24/7 coverage across all media platforms, led by President Trump — who, by design, is virtually at the top of every ballot. Trump being Trump has inflamed and aroused the electorates of both parties, managing to turn the midterms into the most contentious in modern American history.
Therefore, if 2018 feels like a presidential election used to feel, one can only imagine the “Category 5” levels of emotion and extreme intensity that will engulf our nation in the autumn of 2020. (Note that I deliberately did not write “fall of 2020” because that could have a double meaning given reasons 2 through 5.)
2. Chaos: This is what Democracy looks like
An increase in extreme passion will lead to frequent mass protests. Often orchestrated by professional organizers representing left-wing groups, what Republicans characterize as “angry mobs” are now part of the chaotic political/cultural landscape.
Quickly assembled via social media and fueled by the prospects of Trump’s re-election, that political passion will likely incite more violent clashes with Trump supporters. While writing this piece I saw a newly released midterm ad from a Republican PAC warning about such chaos.
There is no doubt that our nation is undergoing rapid demographic change with a leftist tilt, so embrace a future characterized by reason No. 3.
3. Losing the culture wars led to “uncivil war”
Two decades ago, what was quaintly tagged as “the culture wars” – the fight to keep our national culture steeped in the traditional Judeo/Christian values upon which it was founded — was lost, and defeat morphed into a full scale “uncivil war.” This term is now widely used to describe the unhinged polarization and win-at-all-costs partisanship that plagues our nation like cancer.
There is the perception that our national schism is beyond healing because in red/blue America more issues divide us than unites us. Worse, our leaders are no longer engaging in the art of compromise because that foundational governing concept is now seen as “weak” and “caving” to the other side. (And also sure to invite a primary opponent who “listens to the people.”)
Long gone is President Reagan’s theory of governing: “Half a loaf is better than none.” In its place, “attack” has replaced “compromise,” resulting in major problem-solving legislation being passed by only one party — when any manages to pass at all.
What is unique about the 2020 election is it will be the first in which the full forces of the “uncivil war” are unleashed and even encouraged by some elected leaders and media pundits.
4. The rise of powerful identity groups
Divisive racial, gender, anti-government, and single-issue-based identity groups are now permanent forces. Many are well-funded, growing more militant, and on track to become even more powerful and disruptive in 2020. Moreover, identity groups are empowered by the results of bloc voting.
Ultimately, this means that instead of E pluribus unum, Latin for “Out of many, one” (imprinted on all U.S. coins since 1795), the motto should now read, “E pluribus schisma” – “Out of many, division.”
6. Impeachment looms over 2020
In a September piece headlined “Will Trump’s Reelection Campaign Collide with Impeachment?” I wrote about the distinct possibility that in November, if Democrats win control of the House of Representatives, Donald Trump could be the first president to run for re-election while impeachment proceedings are underway. Then, piling on, earlier this week the Drudge Report linked to Peter Baker’s piece in the New York Times headlined “Trump is on a collision course with impeachment.”
Given the first four reasons stated above, the 2020 presidential election will steer our nation through a gasoline-soaked incendiary course – and that’s without impeachment. Therefore, if impeachment is thrown into the proverbial political fire, prepare for an inferno.
Why should all Americans fear and loathe the coming campaign?
Answer: Because both sides fear and loathe each other.
Now is a good time to invoke “real” Civil War history: In 1858, a U.S. Senate candidate named Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Pray for our nation!
Cross posted at RealClear Politics