Top Five Lessons for Democrats in 2020 Elections

If Democrats want to defeat President Donald “The Hustler” Trump in 2020, they should heed my five lessons of success. While there are probably more lessons, I’m starting with five for the sake of brevity.

Stop this nonsense of having over 20 presidential candidates.

If not for the ongoing debates that restrict the amount of presidential candidates for 2020, the Democrats will probably have more than 100 candidates. (Who knows, like Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movie series, maybe Hillary Clinton will be tempted to make a comeback?) By having too many candidates, the Democrats are dividing up the finite political donations compared to Trump who is amassing a war chest without serious competition. At the current rate, by the Democratic nominee is selected, she or he will be at a major financial disadvantage compared to “The Hustler.” (This also includes the free media coverage that Trump has monopolized over the years, bulldozing his less media-savvy opponents.)

Lear how to (re)frame issues.

To learn how to better (re)frame their political issues or views, Democratic leaders should read Dr. George Lakoff’s book, The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. (I need a commission from Lakoff for the regular promotions!) In this short book, the brilliant linguist from UC Berkeley argues that Republicans or conservatives are more effective than Democrats or liberals in (re)framing important issues impacting the American public. This ranges from welfare reform to healthcare; from to taxes to foreign intervention; from abortion to immigration, etc.

To prevail, Democrats must base their policies, arguments and stories on progressive values and moral themes without allowing Republicans to dominate or frame the national public discourse on how to improve this country for all, especially historically marginalized groups and classes.

When they go low, you go low.

In politics, neither Trump nor the equally corrupt Republican party plays fair or by the rules. If Democratic leaders continue to play fair or by the rules in political debates, bureaucratic maneuverers and media campaigns, they will not win back the White House in 2020. At all levels, Trump and the myopic Republican leaders continue to lie and deceive the American public as they prevail in appointing judges, gerrymandering voting districts, dismantling safety nets, deregulating the economy, destroying the environment, gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, separating immigrant families and putting brown children in cages. In response, too often, Democratic members of Congress go on MSNBC and CNN, making weak and diplomatic statements towards their “friends on the other side of the aisle.” With friends like the deceitful and immoral Republican leaders, who needs enemies! If the thousands of children in cages were white Canadian immigrants from our northern border instead of brown Latina/o immigrants from our southern border, would more members of Congress make bold, humane and passionate statements in defense of these innocent children?

To be fair, there are some members, like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Senator Elizabeth Warren and other figures, who make bold, humane and passionate statements against the racist and inhumane White House and Republican-led Senate. On a related note, I concur with AOC (Instagram Live, 06/17/19), Opinion Columnist Charles M. Blow (New York Times, 06/23/19) and journalist Jonathan M. Katz (Los Angeles Times, 06/09/19) that we should correctly (re)frame these so-called “detention centers” (for children and adults) as “concentration camps.”

Speak the language of the people.

For some bizarre reason, Democratic leaders behave like all Americans keep up with current political news, academic journals, think tank policy briefs and government briefings. Because of this fallacy, they speak in an esoteric political language or political lexicon that millions of Americans don’t understand or are not academically prepared to comprehend or simply don’t have the luxury of time to inform themselves on complex policy matters since they are too preoccupied with surviving in capitalist America. This partly explains why an intellectually challenged individual like George W. Bush  defeated the politically astute Democratic nominees’ Al Gore (2000) and John Kerry (2004) in past presidential elections. (Actually, in the case of Gore, he was robbed. Yet, it should never have been a small voting margin in the case of Florida to begin with.) Essentially, both Gore and Kerry debated Bush like it was a Harvard debate competition. Their policy language and messages never resonated with millions of Americans who feel that the system is rigged against them. This is something that Trump, as “The Hustler,” understands: Successful politicians must speak to the American people in a language that they understa

Stand for something, provide a clear and bold vision.

While it’s easy to be against Trump, along with his racist, misogynistic and xenophobic rhetoric and polices, where it will not take too much effort to convince the Democratic base to vote in 2020, Democratic leaders must also provide a political platform with a clear and bold vision on how to improve this country not only for the present, but also for future generations. It’s imperative that this political platform capture and motivate the independent and undecided voters in 2020. During the Great Depression, for instance, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) saved the country from a total financial collapse with his bold New Deal. (Actually, there were two New Deals: 1933-34 and 1935-36). Combined, this included progressive plans of action in the areas of finance, taxes, trade, labor, public works, safety nets (e.g., Social Security Act), banking, housing and more.

In contrast to FDR’s presidential legacy, President Trump’s political future and legacy relies on his sh*thole and racist border wall that Mexico will never pay for! (Well, he also has his deplorable and racist Republican party and base to count on.) While FDR was also guilty of racist and xenophobic policies and programs (e.g., Japanese American concentration camps), in 2020 and beyond, Democratic leaders must redeem themselves from past (and current) mistakes and do better for us all—not just the privileged!

Dr. Alvaro Huerta is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).