At the Democrat debates tonight and tomorrow, 100% of the focus will be on the single individual named Donald J. Trump -- his evil nature, his coarse tone, his collusion with Russia, his treason, his far-right authoritarian subversion of American democracy, his love of similar far-right dictators (callback to Putin), and so on and so forth.
None of it will have to do with substantive issues. They could focus on healthcare, a major concern for voters, but that would heighten the people's awareness of Bernie being the only one who wants a single-payer system, while everyone else either outright rejects that proposal or dissimulates their opposition. The liberal media will be sure to rush right through that rabble-rousing topic.
Bernie's student debt jubilee is another topic that they'll allow five seconds of discussion on before rushing on -- it's too rabble-rousing, and too unconnected to Trump. The most important issue is to defeat Donald Trump, and restore American democracy to how it used to be.
These braindead morons are in for the shock of their lives when the GOP replaces Trump with literally anyone else (aside from a highly polarizing culture warrior like Ted Cruz). They will wait until late in the electoral season, to maximize the element of surprise. Suddenly, all of the Democrats' appeals to voters will go up in a puff of smoke.
"Vote for us in order to rid the White House of Trump! Wait, what's that? He's leaving after one term, so he won't be in office in 2021 no matter who wins the election? Uh, well, problem solved, I guess, but still... vote for us in order to... uh, prosecute Trump after he's already gone!"
They've been constructing their whole narrative based on the continuing threat that Trump poses in his role as the president -- so, once he voluntarily leaves in 2021, that threat vanishes. They cannot switch their message to one of pure vindictiveness, since that does not present some big common problem that we Americans must all unite together in order to solve. Acting like a bunch of petty vindictive middle school girls is not going to motivate anyone to show up to the voting booth.
After the GOP has preemptively neutralized Trump Derangement Syndrome as a potential GOTV issue, the Democrats will not have the monumental turnout that they did in the 2018 midterms. The seething rage will have no clearly defined target, and they will lose both attentional and emotional energy. There will be even more demoralized voters who stay home than in 2016. No high stakes, no point in leaving the house.
That collapse in Democrat turnout, more than a surge in favor of the Republican -- very unlikely since Trump has failed on his major 2016 themes -- will keep the Rust Belt states still very much in play for the GOP. Trump's replacement does not need to win all of them again -- just enough to clear 270. Ohio and Florida are already in the GOP column at this early stage (and North Carolina is not a blue state). If they get just Pennsylvania, it's over.
Only after the Democrats suffer total shock as the GOP snatches the rug out from under them, and they wake up from their concussion to discover that Trump's replacement has won the election, will they be forced to focus on populist material issues. Targeting individuals leaves the campaign completely helpless if that individual is no longer present, whereas targeting institutional and structural problems makes a campaign robust against the changing of particular individuals in the enemy's leadership.
That will also de-fang their obsession with fascism, Nazis, dictators, far-right authoritarianism, etc. Those systems all rely on a highly centralized command structure, and if we really faced such a threat, why would the purported dictator retire voluntarily after four short years? It's a retarded theory that makes no sense of the world and its problems, and it will lose any resonance that it might have enjoyed, once the so-called dictator bows out.
As usual, the technocratic geniuses behind the Democrat Establishment have absolutely no Plan B, and are blithely certain that Trump will be their rival. They are not even having a big debate over it and deciding overtly that Trump will be their rival, they're simply taking it for granted. And of course the clueless Left has been primarily focusing on the same issues as the neoliberal status quo Establishment -- far-right dictator, Nazi menace, etc. They will be of no use either during the campaign. It will truly be the blind leading the blind.
Only the people who are economically populist and morally conservative seem to have any hint of what is possible, and how to build a campaign that is robust to the potential major shocks. And they are marginalized by their supposed comrades on both the Left and Right, whichever they affiliate more with. It'll be a case of I Told You So after the 2020 election, and then a real effort to forge a real realignment after 40 years of neoliberalism.
I've decided not to rehearse my argument for why Trump will not be the GOP nominee, in the interest of space, but you can read my comments to a recent post beginning here. The evidence is extensive and plain to see, both historical parallels and current events (like the GOP refusing to endorse Trump as the next nominee during their meeting earlier this year).
Aside from all that evidence, just check your intuition -- does Trump right now strike you as someone who's preparing for the electoral fight of his life, or someone who's thoroughly checked out and only looking to save as much face as he can on his way out the door?