’ve seen the future, and it’s Donald Trump taking the oath of office on January 20, 2021. Reelected and unrepentant.
This is an unavoidable future, even if “45” behaves even worse (likely!), or even if the Democrats somehow avoid the 20-candidate clusterf**k and whittle the campaign down to a manageable 5-way race between Sanders, Warren, Biden, Harris and Booker.
No. It has nothing to do with how badly the president behaves or how amazingly good the Democrats are at organizing circular firing squads.
I am declaring the 2020 race to be over -- and a win for Trump -- because of a recent conversation I had with two highly educated denizens of one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country. Over an otherwise delightful meal at a Seattle favorite, politics came up as a topic, as it does too often these days.
Looking back, the couple confessed that they had chosen to leave the presidential line of their 2016 ballots blank. These two successful, educated and worldly people said they couldn’t imagine casting a vote for Donald Trump, and certainly not for Hillary Clinton.
Aghast, I posed a hypothetical: If they could vote again, would they choose to begrudgingly circle Hillary’s name? One replied that yes, it was a mistake not to vote for Clinton. The other stuck to his guns: there was no candidate for president worth his vote in 2016.
My friends added that Trump disgusts them, and they said they hope he loses next year.
So logically, the conversation turned next to the 2020 field of Democrats. Who, I asked, caught their eyes?
What came next told me everything I need to know about 2020. Instead of answering my question, one of my dinner partners launched into a diatribe about Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator with a professor's devotion to the fine print of policymaking.
“I can’t stand Warren! It’s all this socialism, giving things away, like free college for everyone,” he said. This half of the couple continued to complain about “all this socialism” being advocated by Democrats and their stereotypical followers, those young, tattooed kids haunting their TV screens.
Maybe -- MAYBE -- he said he could vote for Biden …,or any “centrist” Democrat who got the nomination. But not Warren. Not Sanders. Not any of the socialists.
So, there it is. This educated, wealthy, sophisticated friend was more interested in expressing vitriol about an imagined socialist hellscape under President Sanders or President Warren than defeating the corrupt, inept, racist and treasonous Donald Trump.
I didn’t take it well. I argued. I reminded the couple that they were privileged enough to be members of the Baby Boom generation. That they came of age during the greatest expansion of wealth in human history, when the American experience was a win for nearly everyone.
I reminded them that they personally benefited from massive government intervention in the economy -- from the defense funding that spurred Silicon Valley’s boom to the construction of a massive interstate highway system and a commercial aviation network of airports and air traffic controllers. That the GI Bill put their parents’ generation through college for free, as well as plenty of Boomers themselves.
And I noted that when it comes to college tuition, the costs today are way out of proportion to what they paid when they bootstrapped their way through the halls of the Ivory Tower.
rump and the Republican media machine have already planted the “socialist” flag into the brains of many otherwise fine people who don’t see the American economy for what it is -- a democratic-socialist experiment (dating back to the Progressive era, if not the days of the Founders themselves), that under Trump is tipping toward outright fascism. A country where government-by-cronyism and gerrymander will do more damage than any modest effort to relieve student debt; more damage than by ensuring medical coverage for everyone, on par with the socialist medicine already provided to our seniors.
Trump has already won. Our only hope may be the president’s nightly two-scoops-of-vanilla. Those arteries can’t hold out forever, right? But then again, the socialist medical care guaranteed to every president will mitigate Trump’s comfort food diet.
Back to my dinner companions. My ranting was all for naught. The other couple sat quietly, unmoved.
To me, they are the epitome of Boomer self-righteousness and hypocrisy. It’s unfair of me to generalize about a generation, sure. But I believe there are many more couples across the country, living in actual battleground states, who can’t see through the haze of their accumulated wealth and comfort to realize the importance of defeating Trump next year. If they remain on the sidelines, we are doomed.
However, I’m sure they’ll rest easier knowing we won’t have socialists handing out free passes to the hipsters...
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