The 2020 general election is going to be a humdinger, and very significant for the future direction of the country.
There are many candidates and some profound policies to vote for and against. As the old adage goes: If you decide you don’t like where the nation is headed, and you did not vote, don’t bother complaining.
There will be many people voting against President Donald Trump because of his very unusual style of governing. President Trump and many Republicans face stiff odds because they are confronted with the plague of 2020 and beyond. But they still have a chance.
The last time I looked, Florida was tied, and Pennsylvania was still in play.
It is said about ancient China that when the rivers would flood, and crops were lost, the forces of nature expected change and the Chinese would then install a new dynasty. Those are the same dynamics that confront Trump and the Republicans.
President Trump heads an American political party that did not produce a platform for the first time in memory. That leads one to conclude that what we can expect from Trump in the future if he wins re-election is what we have seen in the past.
The Trump Republicans had few legislative accomplishments when they had the majority in both houses of congress, except provide us with a tax cut. However, many applaud when the government does less. This White House is not an active domestic policy shop, and many prefer that development, too.
The Democratic Party is also acting in an unusual manner. It is not running as only a presidential party — although dumping Trump is one of its major themes — it is running more like a parliamentary party. The normally fractious Democrats have come up with a unified platform agreed to by the Joe Biden forces, the Bernie Sanders forces and the multiple Democratic party factions in Congress. It was put together by both Biden and Bernie surrogates, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The original document, which preceded their platform was more revealing. Both documents are more than 100 pages long. I will stick to my interests, which are entitlement programs.
The Supreme Court, because of an item in the Republican tax bill, now holds Obamacare hostage. It might throw out the whole law. Whatever the outcome of that case, the Democrats are ready to enact health law, if they win. The Democrats have reached a compromise on their health policy. They were divided over “Medicare for All,” long promoted by the Sanders forces, and the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, which Biden promotes. Now the Democrats have agreed to expand the Affordable Care Act, particularly the adoption of the public option in the state exchanges.
The public option was not achieved when the bill was passed under Obama. The Democrats are committed to that and more.
Another entitlement reform not expanded in the platform but given more attention in the original document is to make Social Security more progressive and generous. Also, they want to increase the spousal benefit. They also propose to change the CPI calculation.
The free college is still there: Tuition-free public college for families earning under $125,000.
To achieve these goals and more, the Democrats will have to win it all in 2020, including the Senate, where the Democrats have few targets. If they do win it all, and they want to achieve their goals they will have to abandon the filibuster, which is already being discussed by legislators and former President Barack Obama.
Back to the election, the point of the above brief policy review is that this election is not, as we used to say in the old days, between Tweedledee and Tweedledum because back then there were few differences between the parties.
This is a very important election that could very well set the county on a new path, which you may or may not like. Or it could continue its current course, which others of you might prefer.
The Warren G. Harding 1920 campaign slogan of "Return to normalcy" will not be on your ballot.
You better vote because there is a lot at stake. A lot more than normal for one election but these are not normal times.
— Bill "Doc" Binning is a longtime Youngstown State University professor and occasional political operative who is now retired.