The best bet for beating Donald Trump in 2020 is an African American candidate.
Our society has ongoing, long standing problems with both sexism and racism. For various reasons, protest by African Americans against racism has had more effect on our culture than protest by women against sexism.
In 2016, Donald Trump running against the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major Party was a case study in sexism, as has been Trump’s life. He’s a sexist pig. That bothers a lot of people in the United States, but not enough to stop him from getting enough votes to become president, with the help of our archaic, useless electoral college. Trump definitely did not care about being sexist.
In contrast, nothing upsets anyone in the United States these days more than being accused of racism. This is a mixed blessing. On one hand, racism really is gross and entirely unacceptable (the same is true of sexism, but see above), but on the other hand, the allegation of racism is so damning and “conservatives” are so good at playing the victim that they have developed their own, special, absurd response of saying that anyone who points our their often obvious racism is “the real racist” for pointing it out.
Donald Trump made himself politically famous by promoting the obviously racist birther nothing burger, according to which Barack Obama, our first African American president, was actually born outside the United States and thus not eligible to serve as president. This stupid theory was mostly just a distraction during Obama’s two terms in office, serving only as catnip for racist sleaze like Trump. Neither of Obama’s two Republican opponents much took the cause up.
Trump is lucky he did not have to run against Obama. Being a racist who has the self control of a two year old, Trump would likely have found it impossible to resist his deep seated temptation to go full racist against Obama.
White people in the United States tolerate more racism than they should, but they prefer their racism to be subtle. They don’t much cotton to overtly racist presidential candidates. In 1948, Strom Thurmond, having bolted the Democratic national convention because incumbent Harry Truman had chosen to use African American civil rights as a key component of his platform, carried only four states and won 39 electoral votes as Truman sailed to a surprisingly easy victory.
In 1968, the overtly racist George Wallace carried five states and won 46 electoral votes. That year, the subtle racist, Richard Nixon, beat both the Democrat, Hubert Humphrey, who carried the ambiguous legacy of Lyndon Johnson, father of major civil rights legislation and the Vietnam War, and the overtly racist Wallace. Nixon dreamed up the tactic that every subsequent victorious Republican presidential candidate until Trump would use — dog whistle racism.
Nixon cooked up the rancid idea of splitting working class white people from African Americans with the stupid claim that the bad, old federal government only takes money from hard working white people to give it to lazy black people. Some Republicans tried this against Obama (“the food stamp president”), but never the two presidential candidates who ran against him.
Running against an African American, Trump and his toadies would almost certainly go full racist and alienate too much of the public to win. Nixon threaded the needle between Humphrey on his left and Wallace on his right, choosing not to compete with Wallace for the deep South because he realized that, even in 1968, the overt racism he would have to use to win Wallace voters would alienate more moderate voters than it was worth. The Southern Strategy that too many people know a little bit about was really a Border South Strategy.
The Democrats should let Trump have Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina. If they win every other state, they win the presidency easily.
The Democrats have had two debates, with so many candidates that the two, current African American candidates have only appeared once, and Trump’s toadies are already eliciting accusations of racism, with Donald, Junior retweeting an alt-right person, then deleting the tweet, which raised questions about the racial identity of Kamala Harris, who has a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. She spoke about her experience attending racially segregated schools during the debate she appeared in.
At least nine other Democratic candidates issued statements condemning Junior’s tweet, most of them calling it “racist.” Twitter, in offering (barely) plausible deniability through the cheap device of uttering inflammatory tweets, then deleting them, could easily switch from being Trump’s most potent weapon to the petard he hoists himself on. Junior’s tweet has already invited comparisons to the birther foolishness.
Democrats won twice with our first African American candidate in part because his candidacy inspired a lot of African Americans to work hard on getting out the vote. The 2018 election suggests that a lot of U.S. voters are sick of Trump. Republicans have gone hog wild thinking up new devices to reduce African American voter participation, so Democrats, knowing they win with enthusiastic African American voters, need to do their best to maximize African American participation.
Trump’s sexism did not bother enough U.S. voters to stop him. His racism likely will.
Democrats should nominate an African American candidate.