If you are like me, your position on the 2020 presidential election might come down to this: You will elect any of the Democratic candidates for president, no matter how far they stray from your views, because the current occupant is flawed and an embarrassment to our country.
After a big week on the issue of our time — the #MeToo movement — Joe Biden is still a 7-percent favorite among Democrats to be the nominee. This fact might provide answers for other Democratic candidates.
Many of us live in the bubble of urban America. Nominees in that bubble have done everything possible to be as progressive as possible, easily surpassing Bernie Sanders, the leader of progressives four years ago. While this may be popular for those of us in the urban bubble, the majority of Americans may not agree.
Republicans historically win the White House by using fear, and fear is a successful strategy. Here’s the proof:
Nixon: I will maintain law and order, stop the student demonstrations and implement a ‘secret’ plan to end the Vietnam War.
Reagan: I’m the one to stop the spread of radical Iranian thugs.
H.W. Bush: I’ll protect American women against rape. (Remember the infamous Willy Horton ad, which told voters that Democratic rival Michael Dukakis would allow convicted rapists out of jail?)
G.W. Bush: My re-election is about protecting American family and values, marriage between one man and one woman.
Trump: We need to protect our borders from the rapists, killers and drug lords who are storming our country.
Trump’s people are already road-testing the fear campaign and, when former President Barack Obama spoke earlier this week in Berlin, he expressed concern that progressive Democrats may be helping them by creating an ideological purity that excludes any candidate who does not adhere exactly.
Republicans claim that Democrats want socialism.
“They’ll take away your money and property,” they say. It’s not that the Republican perception of progressives is true — but it’s not meant to be. These kinds of conservative talking points are meant to frighten voters.
Republicans embellish. Let’s just say it as it is: They lie. The problem is that Americans are so frightened, they buy it.
“The criminals are storming the border again” and “The Green New Deal will take away your fast cars, the steak on your table and give you cancer caused by windmills.”
It’s time to get serious about the upcoming election. I said the same thing when the orange-haired man descended the escalator three years ago. This is not going to be a walk in the park. Start listening to all of America, not just urban America. Progressive values are good policy but maybe not good politics. To get elected, you need to practice both. Get elected first and then work toward more progressive policies. Don’t push those policies on an electorate that is already frightened. Hold back on educating the public until after you are governing and can make real change.
Or learn how to talk about progressive issues in a way that doesn’t frighten the average voter, because as we’ve seen, many Americans vote based on emotions rather than issues.
One last point: Relating to this conversation, some LGBTQ pundits have made statements that the out mayor of South Bend, Indiana, running for president is “not out enough.” I believe statements like this are dangerous and divisive, and I want more for our community.
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media.