The 2020 presidential election is well underway. There are a ton of Democrats running. And the pathetic excuse for an incumbent Republican is running. I’m nowhere near deciding which candidate to support yet (hint: not Trump). I honestly can’t even name everyone who’s running. But some things have struck me about this election season.
The first and most important thing that struck me is the fact that no one has learned anything from the 2016 election. I can easily see it playing out just like it did last time, which terrifies me. Everyone got so focused on what Clinton did wrong that they didn’t pay any attention to the real reasons she lost. Chief among those reasons is pure, old-fashioned sexism. It was blatant in the Trump campaign. I don’t think I need to provide any examples. It was all over the Sanders campaign. Here’s an article for support. I don’t think it goes far enough. His whole attitude is chauvinistic and condescending. Plus I can’t think of any other reason why Sanders refused to concede when it was clear that he’d lost and couldn’t bring himself to support Clinton. And rather than call them out on it (which would be their job), the press joined in. Everything said and written about Clinton’s voice, laugh, hair, clothes, or her philandering husband was simply sexist. And there was a lot of it. Plus we can’t forget about the rampant victim blaming that happened just after the election.
I’m sad to say that things have not improved at all since 2016. I know people will point to the #MeToo movement and the handful of famous people who have been brought down by it, but it has hardly been a broad social change. The Brett Kavanaugh hearings and elevation to the Supreme Court are more than enough to prove that. The women who are running in the 2020 race are already falling victim to the same kind of sexist attacks that Clinton did. Kamala Harris is being called a gold digger. Amy Klobuchar is being called a mean boss. Trump basically called Kirsten Gillibrand a whore. It’s everywhere.
The second big reason Clinton lost was the press. They are completely inept. I’ve written about it before, but the press is simply bad at their job. 2016 wasn’t the first time Trump ran for president. Just like those other times, he wasn’t a serious candidate when he declared. He didn’t have a Super PAC or any kind of fundraising apparatus. It was a publicity stunt by a guy that likes the attention. Once the press realized that Trump was good for clicks and ratings, they put him everywhere. The New York Times says Trump got $2 billion in free media coverage. Some estimates go even higher than that. The point is that the press picked Trump as their preferred candidate, turned him into a real candidate and handed him the election.
In the years since Trump was elected, the press hasn’t learned a thing. They are trying to paint themselves heroically since Trump, in his more fascist moments, calls them the enemy, but they’re behavior hasn’t changed at all. Apparently Trump is still good for clicks and ratings, so they cover everything he says and does. No matter how bald-faced the lie, they report it. No matter how irrelevant or inane the statement, they report it. Calling Trump’s attacks on Elizabeth Warren irrelevant and inane is being overly generous, but they make the news. Rep. Ilhan Omar made some legitimate criticisms of Israel and AIPAC, but the story hasn’t been about the substance of her claims. It has been about her supposed anti-Semitism. It’s a lie, but the press loves it.
Another big reason Trump won in 2016 is that people would not unite against him. It happened in the primaries. There were a ton of Republicans running and they were all horrified by the idea of Trump getting the nomination. But rather than get the party to do something about him, they concentrated on bashing each other and letting Trump slide through. Then, during the general election, all those Republicans who hated Trump a few months earlier supported him against Clinton. Add to that the fact that Democrats and the left couldn’t unite behind Clinton and it goes a long way towards explaining Trump’s victory.
This time, the Republicans are still supporting Trump even though it goes against all of their professed values. And the Democrats are anything but united. It seems like every eligible Democrat except Hillary Clinton has jumped into the race. At this point there is nothing resembling a show of unity on the left. There’s still time, and we’ll have to wait and see how the primaries play out. But I’m worried that the candidates own egos will get in the way of the more important mission, stopping Trump.
Like I said, there’s still time and we’ll have to see what happens in the primaries, but I’m having a really hard time finding reasons for optimism in the 2020 race. No one learned anything from 2016. The left is disunited as ever, the press continues to be awful and we’re too sexist to give all of the qualified candidates a chance. (I didn’t even get into the racism issues and the conspiracy theories, but I could write another whole essay on those.) I really hope I’m wrong, but from what I’m seeing now, the next two years are going to be a nightmare.