The Big Secret of 2018: It’s 2016 All Over Again

People in Washington move in groups, think in groups, and act in groups. The adherence to comfortable mythology is why its denizens are so frequently shocked by campaign results outside the mean. Sometimes Washington’s faulty conclusions are because the math is off, but most of the time it comes down to basic misreads of human nature and politics.

Both Democrats and Republicans have their own myths about how 2018 will look. Right now, we have no idea if Trump will survive politically until 2018, given the political and legal storms surrounding his snake-bit administration. We have no idea how deep the Russian rabbit hole goes. We have no idea if he’ll just say “screw it” one day and walk out of the White House. We no longer live in normal times.

Given the wild political uncertainty surrounding this president and with the dark, volatile mood of a deeply divided electorate, Republicans and Democrats both need to go into 2018 with their eyes open, unencumbered by once comforting old conventional wisdoms.

Democratic Myth 1: Trump is enough.

There’s a lot to argue for this case. Outside of the GOP base, Trump is about as popular as kidney stones. However, the Democratic Party is ignoring a lesson the GOP learned to its detriment during the Clinton impeachment—an obliviously guilty serial liar half the country hates only gets them so far. Nationalizing an election is trickier than they think.

The Democrats can’t beat something with nothing, and almost any plan beats no plan every time. So far, Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez seems to have little to offer as a planner, and while Democratic recruiting looks strong, there are already a lot of jokers in the deck running the NY/LA/SF. Democrats will need more than “Trump sucks” unless the indictments start coming down, and even then, they’d be wise to have a richer issue portfolio, more diverse (that’s code for “moderate”) candidates, and something beyond the Bernie-Warren economic message.

 

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