The Wrong Guy(s)

Sometimes you hire the wrong person.  It just does not work out.

That is what the polls are showing now about Donald Trump.  But it is going to be hard if not impossible to fire him.  And that almost certainly will prove ruinous to the nation.

But the same thing can be said about Democratic Party activists, strategists and those on-air know-it-alls whose election-loss records reveal something other than mastery of campaigns, politics, messaging and issues.  They, too, are hard to get rid of, or at the very least it is difficult for them to understand the political realities of the country today.

I am not going to comment about how to get rid of Trump institutionally.  The ways and means set out by the Constitution are there for use.  Whether there are enough Republican members of Congress or of the Cabinet courageous enough to put country before party remains to be seen.  I rather doubt it, however sad, and much can be written about that, however desperately.

But the only way or means available to the public to be rid of Trump and the disaster that is the Republican majority in Congress are the 2018 and 2020 elections, which brings me back to the Democratic political establishment.

There is growing suspicion that Hillary Clinton – whom I love – is setting about to see if she might yet make another run for the office that slipped through her hands twice.  I have heard it from enough people who believe she has a winning argument that the Trump campaign in collusion with the Russians stole the election from her.  I can see the logic of it, but it does not resonate with me, I am sorry to say.

The problem is not Hillary.  Anyone who has read anything I have ever written on this website, the least-visited of the planet, knows that I believe she is eminently qualified to be President and that Trump being in the White House and not she is the cruelest moment in U.S. history.

But being anti-Trump is not enough.  That is what the Democratic political establishment does not understand.  Democrats have to offer more.  What the GOP offered in 2016 was a vehicle of resentment about things as they are.  Many voters took the ride of anger and hate that Trump offered.  In contrast, too many of us believed that in comparison to Trump, Hillary was a slam-dunk, and so what we offered was not well said and projected by the campaign.

And that is where we erred, with most of the responsibility landing on the decision-makers who now go on television with handy excuses related to Russia, Jared Kushner, Russian-owned banks, shadowy financial magnates and, of course, the now-infamous James Comey.

Yes, let that be part of the way we win what most voters wanted in 2016.  The anti-Trump sentiment at the Democratic grassroot-base is real, and it will grow as the GOP in Congress and the Supreme Court head down a road that most voters do not want to travel.

But that is not enough because the components of the voting electorate favor the Republican Party.  That might sound oxymoronic given that Hillary won the popular vote.  But that proved not enough.

There has to be a spokesman or spokeswoman who is able to say persuasively – unlike Hillary – this:  That America can solve its problems, especially those larger than abortion, transgender bathrooms, guns and immigration.  What makes the learned Democratic establishment think that the majority of Americans gets up in the morning thinking about these causes and that they want to hear about them every moment the television in on?

I am all in favor of women’s right to choose, for the protection of the transgender community, for common sense on guns and for the protection of immigrants.  But I and many others do not have to be labelled as less progressive because we do not want to be so wedded to ideological litmus tests that we lose the greater reality that if we do not win we lose on all fronts, not just bathroom bills.  Most Democrats did not support gay marriage but they do now, having been brought there by party activists who then convinced the country of their argument.  Fine – and good.

But surely we can be more inclusive of voters whom we somehow do not hear who believe we have gone off the rails.  We can them back because most Americans are good people.  There are too many activists afoot within the Democratic Party who suspect that too many Americans are not good because they are not as enlightened as the established elites.

This above all must be our game plan:  To turn perceived negatives into positives – a message that could resonate with, for example, many Hispanic/Latino men who showed less willingness to vote for Hillary than we presumptuously thought.  That is just one component of what we should worry about as we head into 2018 and 2020.  And you are not going to see too many pundits or experts on television or at party conferences talking about that kind of detail, which is where the devil is.

The fact of the matter is that we have the numbers to prevail — even in off-year elections.  But we shave off our majority status when we project the cause rather than the common good.

Unless we win next year and in 2020, we will have ruin and be even more desperate.

Jesús (Jesse) Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman.