In 1972, I knocked on doors in West Los Angeles for President Nixon. I caught the attention of California political operative Lyn Nofziger who made me Chairman of Young Voters for the President in West LA. That was a long time ago.
Forty-six years have passed since that skinny kid with long black curly hair clad in blue jeans, a work shirt, and a corduroy blazer with patches on the sleeve walked on the stage at UCLA to debate the Democratic Party representative of George McGovern. He was a young lawyer, wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie. I’ll not forget the laughter when the hippie Nixon guy and the starched-white-shirt clad McGovern guy stood for the introductions.
Much water has passed under the bridge in 46 years. I went from a local political organizer to the epicenter of power in Washington, DC, and made my mark, then left the craziness behind. I’ve worked a lot of campaigns, known many candidates, and won more races than I’ve lost.
We learn from those who came before us. Lyn was my teacher. A couple of days ago, someone on social media called me a fire-breathing dragon. Guess who lit my fire? Lyn Nofziger is who. Lyn was from the school of make-sure-the-opposition-can’t-get-up. I graduated from that same school.
Lyn could win elections against Democratic candidates when Democrats had the upper-hand. I learned how to do that too. In my time, I have been part of GOP campaign teams that won when odds makers said we would lose.
So, what I am about to tell you now comes from the perspective of a former Republican campaigner who has defeated many Democrats who statistically should have won.
Republicans are better campaigners than Democrats.
It is a fact. The GOP is better organized and has a better campaign infrastructure than the Democrats. We can see the differences in how Democrats look at elections versus how Republicans view the same landscape.
Democrats are positively giddy at a poll published by National Public Radio and prepared by Marist. The poll asks: does Trump's conduct as president make you feel embarrassed? The response is clear: Yes say: 59% independents; 66% college + whites; 69% women; 76% of young voters age 18-29. Moreover, 70% of suburbanites, are embarrassed who is the epicenter of 2018.
A Democrat said to me, “all we have to do is show up.” The GOP is praying there are many more Democrats with that same view. That spells V-I-C-T-O-R-Y to a good GOP campaigner, and here is why.
Americans don’t cast our votes based on whether a candidate is an embarrassment or not. We don’t vote because of foreign policy, or Roe v Wade, or any of the other things we spend tons of stuff we spend yowing about on social media, although Roe does inflame passions on both sides.
Americans vote our pocketbooks. If the economy is going well, all a candidate has to do is promise more prosperity and he or she wins.
If you don’t believe me, ask Bill Clinton. In 1996, his misogyny was a national embarrassment. Many polls were pointing him out to be a knave, and they were right. He was a sexual predator, who was overseeing one of the most significant economic expansions in our history. He won handily, sending Bob Dole out of Government.
Economics and jobs are the 900-pound gorilla issue in American politics. Democrats mostly ignore them, preferring instead to speak about fairness, and the government gives away programs. That may be what the left wing of the Democratic Party wants, but it is not what interests America. Our citizens want jobs, and they want the jobs and opportunity to succeed to expand.
While Trump is an embarrassment and making the world more dangerous, as well as empowering white supremacy, the economy is expanding. Many, myself included, feel the trade war will cause harm to the economy, and specifically the Trump base.
The economic indicators are not showing that happening. The economy is still red-hot, and that helps Trump in 2020.
The Democrats are going to have to do the following to win in 2020:
Stop looking in nursing homes for a candidate. It is time for someone to come forward that is young, aggressive, and not burdened by ideological baggage.
Kick ideology to the curb. The way to beat right-wing extremism is to capture the middle, and not answer with left-wing extremism.
Suburbia is the key to victory, as well as the Midwest which the Democrats have largely ignored for the past nine years. Here is a news flash: there is more to America than the Northeast, and West Coast. We need to incorporate the entire nation into our campaign themes.
We need to reestablish the working man and woman into the traditional Democratic Coalition. They are feeling abandoned, and justifiably so.
Business has to stop being a dirty word in Democratic Politics, and if one says it is not, then they have their head in the sand. There are plenty of Democratic owned businesses, and some of them are the largest in the world. The hatred on display of industry and commerce by the far left is a tool used by the GOP with great success. They sell people on the notion that the left is attacking their jobs, and it is an easy sell.
You don’t learn much in victories. The great teacher is our losses. As Democrats, have we examined why we lost in 2016? Are we using James Comey and the Russians as foils keeping us from self-reflection about that election? The truth is that Hillary Clinton lost that election, but Comey and the Russians were minor factors. We need to learn from that loss.
Trump will lose IF Democrats will take the right steps. The clock is ticking, and nobody is making a move.
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