Democrats, It’s ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ Time

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Election Central

A "safe bet" won't win Democrats the 2020 election.

Kristina Vakhman, News Photography Editor

The Democratic party likes to play it safe. If Democrats want to win the 2020 presidential election and boot Donald Trump from the White House, it’s time for them to take risks.

The institutions that failed to keep Trump out of office are still in place, making it very likely that we will get four more years of his administration. The Electoral College that over-represented the minority vote can do it again. The mainstream news media has yet to find a way to reach Trump supporters with facts, meaning that his 87 percent approval rating with Republicans, according to Gallup, can go up with Fox News’ fervent propaganda. Voter suppression is inevitable with incorrigible gerrymandering, syphoning more votes away from the Democratic party.

But perhaps what’s most problematic is Trump’s unrelenting appeal to his base. Establishment Republicans took a major risk by throwing their support behind him and giving him legitimacy in 2016.

Instead of recognizing Trump as a demagogue and casting him off the ballot, as they’ve done historically with candidates like anti-Semite Henry Ford and “Red Scare” driver Joseph McCarthy, republicans saw Trump’s popularity and took advantage of it to win the election, even if the consequences were predictably catastrophic. 

That’s what Democrats need to do. Hillary Clinton was the party’s safe choice in 2016: she was an establishment politician as the former secretary of state and had many years of experience. She ended up winning the popular vote, but not the votes that actually swung the election her way.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, if given the Democratic nomination, will be a Clinton repeat. He’s a safe bet as the former vice president and as an expert at name-dropping President Barack Obama. However, he does not catalyze momentum in the same manner that candidates like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders can.

Sure, as a centrist white man, Biden could capture the votes that Clinton couldn’t, specifically the less than 80,000 Midwestern votes that cost her Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, giving Trump 46 electoral votes, according to The Washington Post. 

But the fact that he is a centrist white man could also lead to boredom.

When getting everyone to the polls is imperative for Democrats to win, boredom is not an option; 4.4 million 2012 Obama voters stayed home in 2016, the Post reported, and look where that got the donkey party. 

Female and minority candidates are risks. Clinton fell short because Trump eviscerated her and took the Electoral College. She also did not do enough to connect with voters, seeming out-of-touch. Even then, the idea of a female president rallied many behind her. 

Trump is a walking spectacle. In the 2016 election, the media gave him $2 billion worth of free air time because of the viewers and clicks he generated, The New York Times found. Democrats need someone to compete with that – someone who is polarizing and inspiring enough to rekindle the enthusiasm voters felt when Obama campaigned.

It’s time to throw caution to the wind. Going against the safety net worked during the 2018 midterm elections when the most-ever diverse group of new electees was sworn in and took control of the House of Representatives. The party didn’t shy away from women, people of color and the progressive agenda, therefore reaching the underrepresented and bringing home a win.

If it comes down to Trump versus Biden, Biden is the way to go. Yet, this “choosing Biden because he’s better than Trump” mentality is eerily similar to 2016. If Democrats want a sure win, they need a candidate who ignites even more passion in voters than Trump did with his supporters. 

It’s hard to tell at this point who that could be.