The 2016 election was a 'crazy' one which had produced a dark horse winner, Donald Trump, and surprised the Party bosses and politic elites of both Democrats and Republicans and most astonishingly, the mass media. Trump won the election but not that many friends. The new President's behavior and performance and his Administration Team's fast turnover have prompted many people to look to 2020 Presidential election already, particularly the tarnished angry journalists in the media, the discredited pros in American party politics and the big presidential election influencers on both the winner side and the loser side. Therefore, it is not too early for this column to talk about the next Presidential election in 2020.
Trump was the winner in 2016 but the Republican Party could not claim the credit for it. Trump never represented the Republican Party machinery. In fact, the Party machine was against Trump from the start until he won the primary. The feud between Trump and the party hierarchy continued even after Trump was inaugurated into the White House. The Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus only served 189 days as Trump's Chief of staff in the White House. Priebus left White House with his used roller-deck of Republican names. This of course does not mean Trump now has the Republican Party in his control nor the other way around leaving the Republican Party in a fuzzy state.
Trump won on his slogan, Make America Great Again. But to some extent (to some Trump supporters and some Trump haters) this was interpreted as 'Make White America Great Again'. There was the 'flirting' relationship between the white supremacist groups such as the KKK and Trump during the campaign. The recent racial incidence in Charlottesville had highlighted that vague relationship. The President took a neutral position of slapping hands of both sides and the white supremacists seemed to want to take credit for Trump's 'right leaning' immigration policy even his repeal of Obama' executive order expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy concerning allowing about 1.7 million illegal immigrant children to stay in this country. The Charlottesville racial incidence may have cost Steve Bandon's job, but the mass liberal media seem to want us to believe that the ‘flirting’ relationship is really a ‘love’ relationship. How true is it?
The Republican Party had a large number of candidates for the 2016 Presidential election and most of the party candidates were taking a 'right' position leaning a little towards the center but Trump never followed the 'party' direction. Hence, the Republican Party's campaign position was a fuzzy one to the voters. Likewise, the Democratic Party's position also became fuzzy because Hillary Clinton started more from a central position to appease the donors associated with Wall Street and its fat cats but forced to move more to the left by the liberal Sanders movement. So in the 2016 election, the two parties both gave voters a fuzzy image and the competition became Trump versus Clinton in 'trust' issue and the result sided with Trump because he correctly recognized the Angry American sentiments and essentially he was an outsider of the American party system and Washington politics.
Looking towards 2020, even though the Democrat Party has not emerged with a definite contender for the Presidency against Trump, there is a significant undercurrent that we must recognize and track. Sanders mounted an impressive campaign with a socialistic agenda in the 2016 Presidential election to the point he threatened the expected sure-win nomination of Hillary Clinton. Sanders’ messages resonated with the 'Democratic Socialists' who share a far left ideology. Will the American socialists mount a force in 2020? Joining the Democrats? Will the angry American Right who formed a movement behind Trump in 2016 regroup for him in 2020? Strengthening the Republic Party? May be, both may be a plausible scenario since both Democrat Party and Republican Party had not only lost the 2016 Presidential election but also the loyalty of their party members leaving both parties in a fuzzy state.
Recently, John Nichols, a writer and a pioneering political blogger, wrote a long article in theNation.com, entitled, America Has a Long and Storied Socialist Tradition - DSA Is Reviving It. This article gave a brief history of American Socialists from the turn of the 20th century. He wrote about the biennial convention of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), held in Chicago in the first weekend of August 2017, and quoted the DSA National Director, Maria Svart, "the DSA gathering is the largest in an era. The organization's membership has tripled. A new poll suggests that 37% of American adults prefer socialism to capitalism. " Nichols, a very productive writer, is the author of a best-selling biography of former vice president Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (New Press) among other books and a forthcoming book, Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America (Nation Books this fall). His observation in the above referenced article, in my opinion, should not be casually cast away.
As Nichols described, The American democratic socialism had a history in Wisconsin and even had socialists running for the U.S. Presidency in the early 20th century. The Democrat Party stole the socialists' thunder and marginalized the American socialists through Franklin Roosevelt with the New Deal, but the American socialists never disappeared entirely. In the last Presidential election, Sanders brought the American socialism to live again. His liberal messages energized the young people throughout American colleges. His movement in 2016 built an organization, will this organization merge formally with democratic socialist Americans in 2020? A Third Party Candidate? Very likely, if one believes what the anti-Trump media are saying and plotting.
Post WW II, the Soviet style communism has made a deep dent in socialism since communism embraces socialistic principles. Thus anti-communism had often spilled over to anti-socialism. The U.S. as the world leader of anti-communism and promoter of capitalism essentially forced American socialists into hibernation. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the rapid rise of China's economy in the past three decades gave testimony to the success of hybrid socialism and capitalism over communism or pure socialism. The movement of Sanders and the revival of DSA perhaps should not surprise anyone. The issue is that the American public is used to the two-party system and their election mechanism making the entry of a third party candidate difficult. From 2016 to 2020, we should take the lesson from how the two party systems malfunctioned in 2016 and how fuzzy their ideology had become depending on ‘who was the Presidential candidate running a well-funded campaign’. Money had made party ideology fuzzy.
Although we are still three years away from the next Presidential election, it is not too early for American citizens to sharpen their observations and track the two undercurrents of political movement so the voters will not be fooled again by the political pundits and the lying media. We must avoid another fuzzy election in 2020. It is time for American political party members to think and vote independently to define a clear and suitable ideology or platform for 2020!