It is difficult for most Democrats to imagine that Donald Trump might be reelected. They are convinced that America is a wiser, more cautious nation than it was in 2016 — and that the people are anxious to fix this mistake.
They point to polls showing that nearly any Democrat who opposes Trump in 2020 would win. But with Trump, as we learned the last time, polls don’t always tell the whole story. Many Trump voters are shy when it comes to proclaiming their support. They prefer to do it in the ballot booth where no one can see them.
In America, we aren’t used to this kind of electorate. But more importantly, we aren’t used to a president so cunning and exceedingly willing to dismiss the values of our democracy to get what he wants.
It is unfathomable to many that a president with such corrupt tendencies and who has alienated so many Americans could even come close to garnering a second term. But the standards of presidential conduct that applied to previous leaders have been lost on Trump. From the moment he stepped onto the political scene, he began muddling the line between acceptable and aberrant behavior.
And Democrats have no idea what to do about it.
To defeat him, Democrats must employ a calculated strategy. If not, they will end up contributing to his victory and handing our nation four more years of tyranny on a silver platter.
Here are six ways Democrats could help Trump win reelection:
1. Try to crack his base.
Nothing Democrats say or do could convince these supporters that Trump isn’t the best man for the job. Democrats should steer their energy toward those who did not vote for him in 2016, making sure they are energized to turn out en masse. Trump lost the popular vote by almost 2.9 million votes, so the majority of Americans never wanted him to begin with. The problem is that not enough of these voters were located in places needed to win the Electoral College. Winning back former Democratic congressional districts that turned out for Trump in 2016 will take more than bellyaching about what an awful human being he is. It will require a well-organized, feet-in-the-dirt campaign.
2. Move to impeach.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right. Holding impeachment proceedings in the House, knowing full well that the Senate would never take the necessary step of holding a trial, would be futile. Some voters would see it as the politically motivated move it is, and Trump could use the failed attempt to bolster his claims of no collusion, no obstruction. It would mobilize Trump’s base, and possibly leave some Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans disillusioned enough to stay home.
3. Hold closed-door committee hearings with Trump loyalists.
Former White House communications director Hope Hicks and her team of White House lawyers made the Democrats look like fools. It was a mistake to allow her to testify privately without a swearing-in. Democrats ended up with nothing but a bunch of objections from White House lawyers, while Trump was rewarded for refusing to play by the rules. Though Trump’s claims of executive privilege might not hold up in court, he has the gift of time on his side. By the time his lame excuse for blocking or restricting testimony of former members of his administration is challenged, the clock will have run out.
4. Let the White House enter into war with Iran without congressional approval.
We may have dodged the bullet this time with Trump’s decision to call off Iran strikes minutes before the attack was to begin. But this administration’s obsession with picking a fight with Iran isn’t over. Nothing would more quickly bolster Trump’s support among Americans than a conflict with a country nobody likes. Though the boost might be short-term, it could be just enough to boost his reelection if timed correctly.
The “rally around the flag” effect worked wonders for troubled presidents in the past. During the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, Jimmy Carter’s approval rating quickly jumped 32% after the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. In 1991, George H.W. Bush saw a 25% hike after the Persian Gulf War.
5. Gang up on Joe Biden.
Former Vice President Joe Biden isn’t perfect, but he might be the best the Democrats have to defeat Trump. Candidates such as Sen. Cory Booker and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio did Democrats a disservice by blowing Biden’s ridiculous statement about once working with segregationist senators out of proportion. Everyone knows Biden wasn’t glorifying the old days; he was making a case for bipartisanship, albeit an inept one. Democrats cannot afford to tear each other down in order to gain favor with minority voters.
6. Ignore Russian interference in elections.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report made it clear that the Russians, for whatever reason, wanted Donald Trump in the White House and did everything in their power to make it happen. There is no reason to think they would not want him to remain another four years.
Congress holds the purse strings. While lawmakers have awarded a total of $380 million in election security grants to states, it’s a drop in the bucket. Congress should not hesitate to spend whatever it takes to secure free and fair elections.
Otherwise, they can get ready for the U.S. Marine Band to play “Hail to the Chief” at Trump’s second inauguration.
Dahleen Glanton is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.