The Race For President 2020

By

Leonard Zwelling

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/opinion/trump-2020.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/public-option-kills-private-insurance-11563309118?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

The Republican strategy for pursuing the re-election of Donald Trump is being formulated by Donald Trump himself. It’s pretty much the one Richard Nixon used to win in 1972. First, any real American supports Nixon. Second, a real American does not criticize the United States even as it tears up Southeast Asia for years on end. Third, if you don’t like it here, leave. “Four More Years!”

Mr. Trump dusted the old Nixon playbook off when he attacked the four freshman Congresswomen of color in his tweet telling them to return to where they came from even though three of them came from the United States and the fourth is a naturalized citizen. Where are they supposed to go? Are they to be expelled simply for voicing an opinion that is not shared by the current occupant of the White House? If that’s the case over half of America better start packing.

All that being said, the Tom Friedman piece from July 17 (“Trump Will Be Re-elected, Won’t He”) makes the valid case that the odds are in Mr. Trump’s favor and they are tilted that way by foolishness on the part of the Democrats.

During the Democratic debates many of us (including Mr. Friedman and myself) were stunned to learn that most of the potential nominees would extend health benefits to undocumented people in the country illegally, that they favor the scrapping of private health insurance, and that they would decriminalize illegal entry into our country. Those are losing policies and Mr. Trump knows it. The four Squad members don’t know it or don’t believe it and so if Mr. Trump can cast them as the face of the Democratic Party, he will win. To prevent that, the Democrats need to nominate a middle of the road candidate who understands the perils of eliminating private health insurance when almost 200 million people have it and like it. Our borders cannot be flung wide open. If they are, we have no country. And the only reason to provide health care to undocumented aliens when we aren’t providing it adequately to our own veterans is if it saves money. How might it save money? If the bill for caring for them in emergency rooms is passed on to the rest of us now, perhaps spreading that cost by covering illegals might be a good idea. Might. I’d need to see those numbers. My guess is that such a move would not drop total health care expenditures all that much.

In the second piece cited above, Scott Atlas bemoans the loss of private insurance that is proposed by Democrats advocating Medicare for All or even a public option as the latter would inevitably crowd out the private sector with its higher costs.

This is really tricky stuff. It sounds simple when either Bernie or the others push to have a socialized system of health care, but how you get from what we have now to such a system is not at all obvious although it would probably be what Kirsten Gillibrand advocates, a public option eventually giving way to a single-payer system. None of that speaks to the seminal issues in health care: overall cost containment, universal access and some guaranteeing measure of quality. Putting in a new system without measuring these factors in the old system first and making sure things get better is pure folly.

I am afraid as the race begins to take shape, it will be base against base. Mr. Trump will work to agitate and activate his core group using racist tropes and rhetoric that paints his opponents as un-American. What the Democrats will do escapes me for now. That being said, Mr. Trump would like to run against The Squad rather than whomever his opponent turns out to be. If the Democrats protract this selection process, Mr. Trump may get his wish—naming his own opposition. And he won’t choose the candidate who is strongest. Whoever that is.

I suggest the Democrats in positions of true leadership (Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama) create a means to educate the current candidates about how their proposals are not only not good for the country, but also undoubtedly losers in the general election. Biden sees this, but is relatively inarticulate in advocating for an alternative direction.

If this comes down to Biden, Bernie, Warren, Harris and Buttigieg, there is a real danger that Donald Trump will get four more years in the White House. I am not sure the country can take that, especially if we get into some real pickles in Korea, China, the Middle East or Wall Street.

This is still a center-right country. If the Dems drift left, they will lose like McGovern did in 1972. That’s my fear. Is it yours?

Leonard Zwelling