by Kevin Kelton
A lot of Democrats are getting downright hysterical about 2020 – but not in the hysterically funny sense. Democrats seem to be losing their collective minds with angst over the upcoming presidential election, none more so than filmmaker Michael Moore.
I’m not a Moore basher; I love his work and agree with him on many policy positions. But his appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher” this past week rang the looney bell several times.
First, the director of “Capitalism: A Love Story” claimed that even though Elizabeth Warren has called herself a capitalist on many occasions, Moore believes he knows better. “I’m not so sure she believes that,” Moore told Maher.
Excuse me, Mr. Moore, but I think the former Harvard Law professor and two-term United States senator knows what “capitalism” means and knows what she stands for. You may not want her to be known as a capitalist. But let’s allow the esteemed senator from Massachusetts to define her political and economic philosophies without your help.
Then Moore proclaimed that people who have immigrated to the United States from European Socialist nations only came here “because they want to go to Disneyland.” Moore may have been trying to be funny, but he seems seriously incapable of acknowledging any of the many weaknesses of modern-day Democratic Socialism that have driven millions of people away from its home nations.
However, his biggest faux pas was his analysis of the 2020 electorate. Moore said – with zero evidence to back it up – that “if the election were held tonight, Trump would win.” And Moore made this baseless claim just moments after he said, “with all the polls that we’ve seen, there’s at least four or five of the candidates (who) would beat Trump” and then went on to emphatically state, “Bill, we’re going to beat Trump. We’re going to beat Trump.”
Does anyone else see a slight disconnect in Moore’s thinking on this point?
But let’s look at his dire warning and see how it compares to reality. I cannot tell you what will happen in November 2020. No one has a crystal ball. But I know this: if there had been a national presidential election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden this past Friday, September 13, 2019, Biden would have won easily, and probably in a landslide.
Oh, I can hear the Biden Bashers now: “That’s what you said about Hillary!”
Today, Biden and the other top-tier Democratic candidates are solidly ahead both nationally and in swing state polls, including even Texas!, and the electorate is trending away from Trump. Let me repeat, I am not saying what would or could happen 13 months from now. I’m talking about if the election were held today. You don’t run 12-16 points ahead in national polls and then lose the election that same day. I don’t care how skeptical you are about the science of polling. A 12-16 point lead doesn’t dissipate in 24 hours.
But the greater point is, there is an hysteria setting into Democrats’ mindset that is destructive to the task at hand. Moore’s “Chicken Little” performance on Real Time is emblematic of that.
Let’s all calm down, take a few breaths and refocus, keeping these salient points in mind:
- Donald Trump is not undefeatable. He won one general election and it was a fluke of history, a conflagration of multiple unanticipated events (the Comey letter, Russian election interference, the DNC emails, increased third party voting, decreased black turnout) that are highly unlikely to be replicated in 2020. The blue wave of 2018 really did happen, and the national electorate will be just as motivated to vote against Trumpism next year as they were last year. Maybe more.
- Joe Biden is not Hillary Clinton. The claim that Biden is Hillary2.0 is a meaningless talking point. He (or whoever gets the Democratic nomination) will win or lose on their own merits. Just because neither of them are extreme leftists does not make them the same person with the same political fate.
- There is no perfect candidate to go up agains Donald Trump. They all come with inherent faults and built-in risks. Bernie would be labeled a crazy socialist. Pete would be hit for being too inexperienced and unsympathetic to the concerns of blacks. Liz has about a dozen red flares that could explode over Pennsylvania and the rustbelt. And, no, Harris fans, a black female candidate is not assured of replicating the Obama coalition, as the polls have clearly demonstrated. We simply have to chose from those candidates we have. Stop looking for the next FDR or JFK or Barack Obama. They are not in this field.
- Don’t take Trump’s bait every time he tweets something controversial. He wants you to be running around with your hair on fire. He laughs when you do that. So stop giving him the attention he so craves. Who cares what he says or tweets? He’s a fluke of history, and he will be a relic of history in 16 months.
- Obviously, we should not be overconfident to the point of complacency. We must motivate voters to the polls and make sure our turnout is high. But we also don’t want to do anything that could significantly boost Trump’s turnout. That means not running on issues like single-payer Medicare For All, decriminalizing illegal immigration, or gun confiscation that might spike conservative turnout in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, or Wisconsin. Remember, adding millions of progressive votes in California, New York, Colorado, and Massachusetts gets us nothing… not a single extra electoral college vote! Regardless of how well single-payer Medicare For All may play in decidedly blue states, if polling tells us it could cost us even a single swing state, it’s a high-risk gamble we should not take. There is no margin for error in Pennsylvania or the rest of the rustbelt. Don’t run a fearful campaign, but don’t run a dumb one, either.
- Trump is not “staying forever” if he loses the election. This is a sack of mass hysteria nonsense people like Bill Maher keep repeating and spreading ad nauseam. If a Democrat, say Elizabeth Warren, wins the electoral college vote and is certified the winner in the United States Congress, she will be sworn in on 01/20/2021 by Chief Justice John Roberts and at that moment she will become President of the United States. It won’t matter if Donald J. Trump refuses to leave the White House. A street address does not dictate who controls the levers of power in this country. President Warren (or Buttigieg/Sanders/Biden/whoever) will be certified and widely accepted as the new president, and any public tantrums Trump may throw will not undo that reality. The military will not stay with him, and neither will the FBI, CIA, Congress, Supreme Court, or anyone else sworn to uphold the constitution of the United States. So stop worrying. The worst that can happen would be an elongated reality show in which Trump would finally and humiliatingly be voted off the island. Trust me, Donald Trump is not overthrowing the constitution or the tens of millions of people sworn to uphold it.
Lastly, if you listen to nothing else in this article, take this one piece of advice. No one can predict with any certainty what will happen in November 2020, but we all have lives to lead until then, and going bonkers on a daily basis for the next 13 months will not help you or our cause. Turn off the news (and even “Real Time”), enjoy your life, vote in your state primary, and then work passionately and positively to elect whoever becomes the Democratic nominee. That is all you need to do to defeat Trump. Everything else is aggravation and excess. Enjoy life. Politics will work themselves out.
I cannot promise Trump will lose his bid for re-election. But I can promise that if you don’t calm down and approach this election rationally, you will lose your mind before a single vote is cast.
Kevin Kelton is a former SNL writer and a cohost of The More Perfect Union podcast.