In the book 1984, George Orwell wrote, “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous“. In a similar vein, US elections are not meant to be won, they are meant to be continuous. In so far as this is the case, Donald Trump is likely to win re-election in the year 2020 in spite of how his Republican Party performs in this autumn’s mid-term Congressional elections.
Donald Trump remains a politically divisive figure but unlike his opposition, he is easily defined in the eyes of both his supporters and detractors. While it may seem logical that in fighting a divisive figure, one has an easier time than than one would have in politically fighting a widely popular or even neutral figure – this is not always the case. Friedrich Nietzsche said,
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you”.
In this sense, as Trump’s opposition have become so utterly obsessed and almost transfixed by the phenomenon of America’s clearly unusual president, they have neglected to create an identity for themselves. In a non-parliamentary system like the US, it is ever more pressing that the job of an opposition must be to do more than simply oppose those in power as in the US, governments are not changed based on parliamentary votes of confidence – they are changed based on the results of regularly scheduled elections.
Because of this, any party that finds itself out of power must ultimately present an alternative set of policies, an alternative image and an alternative gestalt vis-a-vis the incumbents. The problem with Trump’s opposition is as follows: when the Democratic party are not trying to score points against Trump, often by criticising his well-known and unchangeable style or otherwise by nitpicking the minutiae of various trumped up scandals, they are instead fighting themselves.
At the moment, the old guard of the party as represented by Hillary Clinton, Senator Charles Schumer and the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi are engaged in a life and death political struggle for control of the party against those coalescing around Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Socialists of America.
But rather than being a genuine ideological struggle, the entire situation appears to be an ego driven contest for power between old men and women with old neo-liberal ideas and a gang of prepubescent-looking self-proclaimed socialists who nevertheless talk more about identity politics than material politics and who happen to rally around the angry grandfather figure of Bernie Sanders who is still difficult to imagine as presidential.
While the Republicans have their own share of disagreements with one another, as the neocon wing of the party tending to oppose the ascendant Trump wing, the problems of disunity around Republicans are nothing compared to that which currently plague the Democrats. First of all, the Democratic Socialists are neither democratic nor socialist. Instead, they represent the kind of shrieking, judgemental, identity politics and social issue driven spoilt brat mentality that Trump rallied against in 2016 by wrapping himself in traditional secular/melting pot American values with a touch of Christianity on the side.
Ultimately, Trump’s message of straight-forward Americana won over a Hillary Clinton campaign that embraced every new sectarian trend to come out of so-called “millennial” group think circles. Today, the so-called Democratic Socialists are running a similar campaign to Hillary Clinton only with the added detriment that unlike the professional politician that was and remains Hillary Clinton, it would appear that the sectarians on the new ‘left’ of the Democratic party actually believe their own sectarian bullshit. In this sense, by refusing to listening to “main street America” and proclaiming a kind of inherent superiority to ordinary Americans, the ‘Democratic Socialist’ are not democratic and in ignoring basic economies, the Chinese model of market socialism from which the US could learn much and other traditional actual socialist issues including the wealth gap – they are not true socialists either. They are simply liberals who happen to be younger, less experienced and even more unrealistic in their overall aims than the failed Machiavellian that is Hillary Clinton.
By contrast, Trump has the statistics on his side in terms of economic growth, comparatively low unemployment and increased employment across ethno-racial demographics. Trump also has the ability to claim a history making peace summit which will likely end the Korean War once and for all as a universal success. Of course, Trump’s rhetoric on Iran is at times worrying, but so too was his rhetoric last year on the DPRK. There remains every possibility of the Iranian situation ending on as positive a note as the Korean one has done.
In terms of his personality, while perennially divisive, at least Trump has a personality. This is more than can be said for a Democratic party which on the verge of midterm elections looks chaotic at best and repulsive at worst. If the “bright young hope” of the Democrats is a would-be Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who publicly admits to being ignorant on foreign policy and appears to have no real grown-up understanding of economics, Donald Trump’s projections of extreme self-confidence will likely win against whichever Democratic candidate eventually goes up against him in 2020, especially if his 2020 opponent is at all related to the hopelessly amateurish yet paradoxically smug and hence off-putting attitude of Ocasio-Cortez.
Americans want their superpower nation to be taken seriously and Trump is a leader who for all his faults, does project confidence and an uncompromising attitude. When pitted against Democrats who appear divided against themselves and highly compromised in their ability to project a coherent message, Trump’s lack of ambiguity will likely win in a nation that traditionally admires individuals who know what they want and at least appear to know how to get it.