“This will be a historic election!”
Politicians, columnists and supporters repeat this sentence every four years in the United States. Everyone gets excited – even when the event is not particularly exceptional. But getting excited about the 2020 presidential election is not overkill this time. This election will be as crucial for Americans as it is for the rest of the world.
It is to be hoped that Donald Trump’s term of office will not be renewed; hope, therefore, that a competent and talented Democrat stands out and can defeat the Republican president. Another Republican candidate could, of course, try to challenge the president, but even if that happens, unless I am mistaken, Trump should be able to defeat him easily, unless, for example, an incriminating report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller muddies the water.
This means that the leadership race of the Democratic Party is of the utmost importance. You only have to look at what has been happening in the American political world since the beginning of the year to see this. Democratic candidates are like great white sharks who have smelled blood. They jostle in the hopes of challenging the visibly weakened Republican candidate.
A second observation about this leadership race is that there are no real favorites. This means a large number of analyses, prognoses, advice and recommendations.
For example, should Democrats choose an experienced politician like former Vice President Joe Biden (who is 76)? Or opt for a newcomer like Beto O’Rourke (who is 46) who came very close to taking the seat of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the midterm elections?
Barack Obama himself said in January that the country needed “new blood” in political leadership. Since then, some speculate whether it was a message to his friend Biden.
What if the question of experience is secondary? Wouldn’t it be better to choose a woman to face Trump? “To see this president lose to a woman would start to heal the injury of his repulsive reign,” Michelle Goldberg recently wrote in The New York Times.
History is being written; we have never seen so many women running for the leadership of one of the two major parties in the United States. There are already four Democrats, including Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Will any of them succeed where Hillary Clinton could not in 2016?
Others will say that the choice between a man and a woman is secondary, because Democrats would be best advised, strategically, not to select a white candidate.
The turnout of black voters in the presidential election fell in 2016 compared to 2012, when Obama was a candidate. Hillary Clinton was not able to mobilize them as effectively. Spanish-speaking voters also showed less enthusiasm for her than for Obama four years earlier.
Finally, some will probably argue that the secret to the success of the Democrats in 2020 lies in the selection of a candidate from the Midwest. Will the voters of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – three states without which Trump would not have won in 2016 – not be more inclined to vote for a politician from that region?
A nasty puzzle? Quite.
We hope that the Democrats will ultimately be able to choose the most suitable candidate to defeat Trump, the one with the best program and the most talent to implement it. The one who will not only have a message of hope, but also concrete solutions for reducing the growing inequality that undermines American society. He or she will also be able to seduce voters who do not live in big cities and who voted en masse for Trump, those – and they are many – who no longer see their standard of living improving and believe less and less in the American dream.
A nasty contract? Quite.
That is why, even if Trump is weakened, betting on his defeat would be terribly premature for the time being.