The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Beating Trump Is Not Enough


By Keir Hichens

The more I watch the democratic debates, listen to the news and read the newspaper, the more I feel a heavy sense of déjà vu pulling at the pit of my stomach. For the amount that political strategists and column-writers like to revisit the 2016 Democratic Primary and the ensuing general election, it seems that the Democratic Party has learned precious little about what went wrong.

We are at a turning point in history. Our planet and our country are faced with the compounding damages of income inequality, institutionalized prejudice, globalization, climate change and many more intersecting issues. Who have we tasked with solving these existential crises? A political and governmental system that is biased towards those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. On a day-to-day level, the American voter is feeling the direct impact of income inequality and the rest. Even though our economy has been steadily increasing since the 1940s, the average worker has not seen a substantial wage increase and our workforce is bogged down by college, medical and other debt. Donald Trump capitalized on this in 2016, lying and fear-mongering his way onto the news until just enough desperate voters decided to give him a shot.

In 2016, both the Democratic establishment and a large portion of Democratic voters decided to pick the “least polarizing” candidate in order to defeat Donald Trump. However, they fundamentally misunderstood the causes of Trump’s rise, and for that reason, picked the wrong candidate. From the “existential crisis” frame of reference, it’s easy to see how a brash political outsider might provide a disruptive counter to Hillary Clinton, who is inextricably tied with the Democratic establishment.

Now, the second time around, we are seeing the Democratic establishment and Democratic voters make the exact same mistake. Venerable publications like the New York Times constantly question Bernie Sanders’ viability as a candidate even though he has a sizable lead by every metric. The Democratic Party allows billionaires to buy their way onto the debate stage while thwarting the progress of candidates with real grassroots support. All the while, American people are still suffering and looking for an answer. It is impossible to fix these systemic issues with a billionaire oligarch like Mike Bloomberg, a stumbling establishment politician like Joe Biden, or a quick-talking incrementalist like Pete Buttigieg. For the reasons I’ve laid out, they cannot beat Donald Trump at the ballot box. Even if they could, the ends simply would not justify the means.

We have a chance to make the right choice. By all accounts, the 2020 presidential election is the most important one in generations. While Donald Trump was taking children away from their parents, slashing taxes for the rich, doing away environmental regulations, and breaking every presidential norm and some laws along the way, the climate has continued to change, income inequality has gotten worse and every other intersecting crisis has become more dire. At the same time, it almost seems like the cards are all out on the table for the Democrats. We know exactly the measures the Republican establishment will take to win the next election and we know why they won the last one. But most importantly, we have a chance to focus the American people on fixing the systems that created issues like climate change in the first place.

Our generation will live with the consequences of this decision. While we still have time, we need to do everything in our power to ensure the party and country make the right choice.

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