New Hampshire Eve: “Electability is the wrong question for 2020”
As we wait for the Democrats to conduct their primary tomorrow, I wrote an op-ed: "Electability is the wrong question for 2020." Please take a read below and feel free to send forward your thoughts!
On July 28, 2017, the first prominent Democrat filed to run against President Donald J. Trump in the 2020 race. Since that time, the Democratic Party has had a very public existential crisis as to not what the Democratic Party stands for as an alternate to the President Trump but a self-imposed standard of evaluating every new Democrat filing to run against President Trump of “electability.”
Yet rather than being a helpful metric to brush back wanna-be contenders, “electability” has been an albatross weighing down the entire Democratic field.
Electability, unlike the color of one’s skin or the resume one has built, is a porous metric. After all, what makes a candidate electable has nothing per se to do with how much money they raise – Hillary Clinton raised more than $700 million while Donald Trump raised just $400 million; how many accomplishments they have achieved – President Obama served three terms in the Illinois Senate and did not finish out his first term as a United States Senator when he beat an incumbent President; nor their looks or volubility – Vice President Al Gore certainly would have topped Governor George W. Bush in 2000 were this the case.
Google “What is Electability?” and the answers to be found are replete with counter-programming. What is electable in San Francisco (Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district), a congressional seat which Speaker Pelosi has held since 1987, is not the standard in Lubbock, Texas (Congressman Jodey Arrington’s district), which has not elected a Democrat since 1964.
In order for a Democrat to win is the electability standard the Pelosi standard or the Arrington standard?
Or do you push the uniqueness narrative as an energizing factor to get-out-the-vote based upon being the first woman (Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Kloubacher), the first gay man (Mayor Pete Buttigieg), the first Asian-American (Andrew Yang) or the first Socialist (Senator Bernie Sanders)?
This is why, right now, the Democratic Party is failing not only themselves but the electorate. Electability is the wrong question in 2020.
Voters, today, have now spent the better part of two decades having their desires changed by the prominence of reality television, YouTube stars and diverse media information platforms. Instead of having anything packaged for them, voters can literally, very readily pick-and-chose what they want to consume.
Whatever a voter feels like watching, they can. Whatever a voter feels like reading, they can. Whatever a voter feels like doing, the can. The 2020 voter does, essentially, have their every need catered to them.
Add to this the dominance of scripted selections vis-a-vie Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and what the 2020 Democratic Party is failing to accept is voters not only have a choice but the choice they use to vote depends on how they feel in a particular moment.
And feelings are based upon the data they instantly consume.
This is why President Trump’s decision to forgo the podium of The White House for Twitter should have been the foremost lesson for the Democratic Party.
The podium of The White House was much like scripted television, aka pre-reality television. What was happening in the world, in politics, was packaged for the viewer/voter and they were told the information they “needed” to be told. There was no choice, no alternative.
What President Trump saw, and what the Democratic Party still forgets today, is the viewer/voter now has a choice in everything and the choice they want most is to see the world as THEY see is: raw and unfiltered.
President Trump’s Twitter stream, whatever the opinion of its content, is the true essence of who he is. Everyone (friend or foe) always knows exactly what he thinks and where he stands. The President is completely and utterly authentic, the ultimate in total transparency.
Remember that old adage “What you see is what you get?” It could have literally been created as the tagline for the Trump Presidency: Instead of “Keep American Great Again,” Trump 2024 could be “What you see if what you get!” All hours of the day, on every subject of the day, anyone in the world can see into the mind of President Trump.
So when a voter is now told by the Democratic Party to think of electability, the voter is being told to revert back to a standard which no longer exists. Electability verses looking inside the mind of the President is not comparing apples-to-apples. Electability is a calculation: measuring and thinking. Authenticity, by its very essence, is not. Authenticity is that “What you see if what you get.”
Now, as the Democratic Party moves into the heart of their nomination process, what they need to do is find a non-calculation to beat President Trump. They need to throw off the self-imposed “electability” standard and look to reveal what is their most authentic self: what is it they truly believe, think and feel.
This is why Senator Bernie Sanders is now, again, rising.
Whatever the Democratic Party thinks of Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders has always been consistently himself. He is the exact counter-programming of President Trump. And while the Republican Party might ideologically fight against Senator Sanders, the Republican Party can never go after him for the incessant issue-flopping of so many other (now former) candidates in the Democratic field. He has always believed in what he has believed. This is why his base of support, much like President Trump’s base of support, has never wavered.
The truest danger to President Trump's re-election has always been an authentic choice, an authentic alternative. And unless, the Democratic Party can provide that authentic alternative, President Trump will be re-elected.
Sery Kim is an Attorney, a Republican Strategist and a former Senior Advisor in the Trump Administration.