Beto O'Rourke is definitely making an impact on the race, but for somebody who truly came out of nowhere, there's the one and only Pete Buttigieg, aka Mayor Pete. He's not exactly topping the polls right now, but just getting on people's radar screens at this point is pretty amazing. And I have to admit, I like a lot of what I see; he's seems to have very good political instincts. Like this, from a January interview in Washington Post Magazine:
“Donald Trump got elected because, in his twisted way, he pointed out the huge troubles in our economy and our democracy…at least he didn’t go around saying that America was already great, like Hillary did.”
Right on, Mayor Pete! Of course, this earned him no applause from the political geniuses who advise Hillary Clinton. Nick Merrill, one such advisor, had this to say:
“This is indefensible. @HillaryClinton ran on a belief in this country & the most progressive platform in modern political history. Trump ran on pessimism, racism, false promises, & vitriol. Interpret that how you want, but there are 66,000,000 people who disagree."
Yes, how can Mayor Pete say those terrible things about such a successful campaign?
Anyway, David Atkins has a good take on the Washington Monthly blog about the dispute that underlies this exchange.
"Trump is a fraud, and so are his promises. But during the 2016 campaign, he acknowledged the anxiety of these communities, and gave them a narrative that fit both their worldview, their understanding of politics, and their prejudices.....
It is very disappointing that so many voters in the white working class were willing to believe and accept the racism-fueled narrative of false promises that Trump offered, but that is what happened. Whoever the Democratic nominee is in 2020 has two options to confront this problem. One is to simply give up on reaching these voters in the belief that their prejudices concerning racial and gender minorities make them unwinnable, regardless of the nominee’s messaging around economic policy. The second is to campaign to them in a way that acknowledges the desolation of these communities and gives them a more appropriate and accurate villain to blame.
Merrill’s argument fallaciously assumes that taking this second approach means unavoidably abandoning the Democratic party’s base: women and people of color. But both common sense and specific research indicates that this doesn’t need to be the case.....
Another broad misconception shared by those in Merrill’s camp is that economic populists from the left who support Buttigieg’s messaging believe that all Trump voters can potentially be swayed by it. It’s common among these types to point to some act of horrific racism or sexism at a Trump rally and smirk about “economic anxiety.” But, of course, no one really believes that all Trump voters are persuadable in this way...Even if only 5% of Trump voters are...persuadable...that's the difference in many districts and states between a loss and a landslide victory."
To his credit, I think Mayor Pete gets this.