For years, the Democrat Party has been changing and evolving, ebbing and flowing to the likeness of one Democratic leader and then another.
In 2016, the Democrat Party was more open to socialist policies as Senator Bernie Sanders rose to the ranks to contest Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
After Clinton won the nomination, she and the Democrat Party extended an olive branch to her more far-Left party members but maintained their Democratic, rather than socialistic, leanings.
Then she lost and the party went into a spiral.
Now gearing up for 2020, Politico reports the person who has most unified the Party is President Trump.
According to the report, Trump has caused Democrats to shift not only their policy positions but their methods of expressing them and their mediums for sharing them.
Trump has changed the game.
No one could miss the obvious ways this president—despite his deviations from traditional conservative orthodoxy—has turned the Republican Party into the pro-Trump party. It could be easy to miss, however, some of the less-obvious ways Trump also has made himself the defining force of the anti-Trump party.
On stylistic and even substantive grounds, Trump is arguably exerting more gravitational pull on Democratic politics than the party’s most recent president, Barack Obama, who left its down-ballot infrastructure in tatters, and far more than another Democratic figure, Bill Clinton, who once could claim that he had remade the party in his own fashion.
From the once-unthinkable candidates vying to replace this president to their mimicry of his hard-punching way of politics, Democrats are showing that it is possible—even unavoidable—simultaneously to loathe Trump and be swept along by his disruptive current.
The most immediate evidence that President Trump has impacted the Democrat Party is their sheer number of presidential candidates.
“Virtually every top-tier candidate on the Democratic side is benefiting to some degree from Trump’s demolition of old standards of presidential plausibility,” Politico reports. Here’s more:
Not long ago, a 77-year-old small-state socialist would have been deemed inconceivable, but Bernie Sanders is not. So would a 37-year mayor of the fourth-largest city in Indiana, but Pete Buttigieg is not. Nor Beto O’Rourke, who made few waves in just two terms in Congress and did not win his statewide race. Nor Elizabeth Warren, a liberal Massachusetts law professor who didn’t run for office until she was in her sixties, nor Julian Castro, who in years past would find few takers that his time as HUD secretary was a likely path to commander in chief. Even the most conventional pol, former Vice President Joe Biden, would at age 76 three decades after his first presidential run be seen as a highly improbable contender.
Some version of “Well, if Trump can win…” is the principal engine behind the fact that there are two dozen candidates—a number that itself would have been wildly improbable. In fact, it is candidates with impressive traditional credentials—senators like Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet and governors like Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper—who are struggling most to clear the give-me-a-break bar.
President Trump has also changed the game on how these candidates are forced to promote and share their platforms.
Trump enjoys cable television. He routinely expresses how often he watches it, who he watches, what he likes and dislikes, and masterfully manipulates the news cycle.
Politico reports Trump is causing the Democrat Party to play by his rules when it comes to cable television:
When Trump’s rise from noisy celebrity to presidential contender began four years ago, his path was cable—not simply the televised debates of 2015 and 2016, but the way his performances dominated channels for days afterward. Every Democratic presidential candidate, including Biden as frontrunner, is acutely conscious of the need to perform well at cable debates starting next month, and along the way to demonstrate that they are capable of competing with Trump on equal terms in the general election battle of media narratives. No Democrat could credibly claim to be indifferent to “cable chatter,” or would regard that as something to boast about.
Trump’s impact on social media and pushing messaging is another element that Democratic candidates have been impacted by and forced to emulate.
The president has a transparency when it comes to social media that, in the pre-Trump era, was dodged by most politicians. Politicians in Washington had to keep an image, a professionalism that left no room for their personal life. Trump wrecked that standard.
“Trump has firmly set the precedent that if a thought is on his mind it is on his keyboard; even as most Democrats don’t emulate his regular stream of insults they are plainly in debt to his example. Understatement and reserve as signatures of a presidential style are in the past,” Politico reports.
Trump has also impacted Democratic policy proposals, specifically their carelessness when it comes to the budget, the deficit, and fiscal responsibility.
Democratic proposals that cost $2 trillion, $4 trillion, $93 trillion have become mainstream under Trump—because of Trump. Politico reports:
Trump has offered scant evidence rhetorically or substantively that he cares about budget deficits or entitlements costs. This has given Democratic presidential candidates a green light to blow off these questions, too. No top-tier Democrat is emphasizing deficit reduction or cost-control, and they are under no particular pressure from the media or voters to do so. Instead the competition is over who can present the most ambitious and pulse-quickening ideas—Medicare For All, free college, teacher raises, massive infrastructure investment and so on.
Trump did not create the ultra-partisan politics with which he is so associated—this had been building for a quarter-century or more before his election. One difference with him, however, is that most of the time he never pays rhetorical deference to the notion of the presidency as a national unifier.
As previous presidents have tried to unify a country through a time of peril, war, or political fatigue, Trump often bolsters his own Party and supporters without reaching a hand across the aisle. This party-first mentality is plaguing Democratic presidential candidates as well and any unifying talk has been long-forgot.
“The partial exception, again, is Biden, and he is learning fast about the perils of offering himself as bridge-builder at a time when even many party moderates believe that Trump Republicans are so not on the level there is no point in trying to get along. His statement that Vice President Mike Pence is personally ‘a decent guy’ caused an online uproar on the left and forced Biden to say he didn’t think Pence’s policies or politics were decent,” Politico concludes.