Why 24 Democrats Running For POTUS Will Give Trump A 2020 Headache

During the primary season, President Trump and the Republican Party will face a 24 front war which will make it harder to define the Democratic Party.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, on Thanksgiving in Palm Beach, Fla. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Donald Trump speaks to the media at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, on Thanksgiving in Palm Beach, Fla. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

It seems almost comically absurd to have some 24 candidates running for president from one party. It may even remind liberals of the Republican circus act in which 16 candidates fired away at each other until some unholy eldritch humor favored Donald Trump, prompting them to worry that the winner of the 2020 nomination will be the loudest, most flamboyant politician, not the measured adult capable of living rent-free in The Donald’s head while appealing to enough voters to seal the general election. But what if a protracted Democratic primary in which some 24 candidates vie for attention is actually a net positive?

Consider that Trump is already in a bind for 2020 for several reasons. He’s fighting numerous investigations into his corruption and abuse of power, obstructing Congressional oversight at just about every turn, which is very unpopular with the public. He’s facing historic headwinds as only a little more than a third of Americans think he should get a second term. And being the petty man child that he is, he’s outright refusing to work with Congress to govern unless lawmakers agree to cede absolute legal immunity to him, no matter his conduct, which is not something a nation that prides itself on its history of rebellion against authority finds admirable, to put it mildly.

Now, add 24 media-hungry presidential candidates attacking him on all sides for the next 8 to 11 months, depending on who drops out of the primary based on incoming votes. With Hillary Clinton as the clear frontrunner in 2016, Trump and the entire Republican media machine could fire every rhetorical weapon they had in her direction, as could the Russian disinformation trolls on social media happy to help the campaign. But now, Trump has to fight a war on 24 fronts and with the Democratic House. On who does he focus fire? Nobody knows, not even Democrats. He could try and target the likely nominees, but that’s still at least five or six people.

Meanwhile, his friends at Fox News are more than happy to start smear campaigns against every Democrat as a wild-eyed communist zealot, likely with a mind control chip installed by the ghosts of Lenin and Stalin, but they’d need to run them against more than a dozen candidates. Even in the minds of the 60-somethings who watch the network religiously, both figuratively and literally, the details are going to start blurring together and they’ll have a very hard time trying to recall which one of the Satanic pedophile Demon-rats is trying to set up death panels, and which one is trying to add a pro-infanticide amendment to the Constitution.

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Differentiating between all of the Democratic candidates will be overwhelming. Tarring them all with the same brush will be lazy and repetitive. Fully aware of that, Fox will have to move on to doing their best Chris Crocker impression, crying “leave Donald alone!” and covering the same old GOP conspiracy theories while they wait for someone to seal the nomination. In other words, the same sustained attacks on a single Democratic candidate simply aren’t possible with such a wide field of politicians who are loath to attack one another with more than civil and academic policy disagreements — with the exception of Bernie Sanders whose angry surrogates are busy sending out hit jobs on his competition — but are united in their sniping at Trump’s follies.

If they continue to go through the primary season with the same attitude, focusing on issues instead of giving Fox and the rest of the right-wing media ammo for their opponents, they can keep the coverage focused squarely on Trump’s shortcomings rather than the “Dems in disarray!” narrative the media loves to run. The media is so used to the GOP being a unified, hierarchical phalanx, they can no longer understand how a party can passionately and continually debate the best course of action within itself, and still offer proposals for getting things done as one team.

No matter how you slice it, a crowded field of passionate Democrats with their sights on 2020 presents a serious challenge for the GOP and a strong field of good bets for the left. Anyone who passed a history class will tell you that it’s virtually impossible to win a war fought on three fronts. Trump and Republicans are currently facing up to 11 months of fighting on 27 open fronts if we were to include the House investigations into his conduct as a candidate and president, the 14 criminal investigations farmed out to the Southern District of New York and other federal prosecutors by the Special Counsel’s Office, and slow but steady slides in already historically low voter approval. The GOP better buckle up. It’s going to be a rough year.

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Opinion // Democratic Party / Donald Trump / Republican Party