June 12, 2019

CHRISTOPHER ROACH: 2020 Has Echoes of 1996 for the Opposition Party.

The objective facts favor Donald Trump’s reelection for many of the same reasons Clinton was a favorite in 1996. The economy is doing quite well, and his tax cuts and regulatory reforms appear to be at least part of the reason.

Of course, he has not delivered on his main campaign promises, but he appears to his supporters at least to be trying, even in the face of bipartisan resistance. His deviations from promises appear aligned with rather than opposing public opinion.

Also, Trump rather decisively defeated ISIS’s caliphate in Syria, but has so far avoided calls for getting involved in another Middle Eastern war. Even Obama could not avoid this temptation, in spite of running as the “peace candidate” in 2008.

In short, we were warned that Trump would destroy the economy, the norms of good governance, and possibly act recklessly with his “finger on the button” in the event he became president. Instead, everything feels quite normal, prosperous, and predictable.

The gap between the Democratic Party’s hatred of Trump and his results mirrors the chasm between Republican Party’s Clinton hatred and the relatively modest evils of Clinton’s first term as president. Then, as now, there is some “outrage fatigue” among ordinary Americans, who are not nearly as partisan or engaged as the political press, volunteers, and donors who follow politics like a sport in both parties.

More important, by combining this background of ideological fervor and a “ho hum” candidate, Dole failed to excite the base, even as Republican rhetoric alienated those in the middle and within the Democratic Party.

Don’t get cocky.

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