Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Will Democrats try to sell Hillary as more a "real Republican" than Trump?

With the polls currently indicating a likely Hillary Clinton win in the Presidential election, the question of what kind of mandate she will claim and how the Democratic Party will take advantage (or fail to do so) given indications that Clinton will have a strong margin of victory.

Paul Krugman (even-the-hardcore-Hillary-supporter Paul Krugman!) made the following set of Twitter entries on 08/08/2016, which he called "A short (?) Twitterstorm on Trump and his predecessors."

  1. I'm hearing some people claim that given how bad DJT [Donald J. Trump] is, some of us were too hard on Bush and Romney -- that we should have saved our ire
  2. This is actually quite silly as a practical claim about politics -- do you really think that Trump supporters care what NYT [New York Times] opinion says?
  3. But more to the point, it misses the story. What people like me and Norm Ornstein were trying to tell you was about a GOP breaking bad
  4. Bush, who was dishonest in an unprecedented way -- including misleading us into war -- and Romney, who followed his lead, were harbingers
  5. Trumpian awfulness is basically a continuation of the process -- it's a vindication of these warnings, not a sign that we were too harsh
  6. And looking forward, it's important not to let Trump move the Overton window. "Better than Trump" will not be OK in future candidates.

Faced with the possibility of a strong electoral margin, the Democrats have two basic approaches. The "safe" and conventional approach would be to try to win as many Republican votes as possible by emphasizing how off-the-tracks Trump is and by talking tough on national security and fiscal discipline. Conventional Democratic neoliberalism and, yes, militarism, in other words.

The other would be to use the lead to present issues in a Democratic framework. The dominant approach in the Democratic Party since 1992 has been to frame issues in Republican terms and present themselves as more sensible and better able to achieve them than Republicans. And as a result, the Overton Window has moved further and further to the right.

Krugman is obviously concerned that the former approach will dominated the Presidential campaign. In other words, instead of using the chance to say, Donald Trump is what the Republican Party really looks like, to instead try to say, Trump isn't a real Republican and so Republicans should vote for Hillary because she's more like a real Republican than Trump.

I share Krugman's concern.

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