The good old days of the 2016 presidential campaign seem like only yesterday. Yes Trump won the electoral college. Yes Hillary won the popular vote. And yes, as each day continues to inform us, Russia played a critical role in rigging the election. There’s no ‘do over’ in our election system. Our founding fathers went for stability when they set up our Constitution, but the 2016 election has left us all hanging in a unique way.
The chaos of that time is nothing compared to what we have been living through since Donald Trump was elected. Just think back, for a moment, to Trump’s Inauguration day when our new President made a theatrical show of signing his first executive orders, including one that would advance the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He later demanded that we believe his Inauguration had the largest crowd - ever, despite proof to the contrary, and the term “alternate facts” was coined by his advisor Kellyanne Conway in his defense.
We were off and running, and our country has been operating in a state of political chaos ever since. We’ve never quite reached recovery mode. Trump has gotten used to creating his own style of governing in an attempt to resemble autocratic role models, whether it’s Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, China’s Communist Party bosses, or the Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince. Our allies have been dismissed and too many domestic issues have been ignored or repudiated. Donald Trump’s time in office increasingly feels as if it should have an unofficial asterisk beside the title.
But the time of rude awakening is coming. There are currently close to 20 investigations surrounding this White House and President Trump, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election, the Southern District Court of New York and the state of New York investigations and a growing number of congressional inquiries. The Democratic majority now in control of the House of Representatives is committed to doing what the Republicans didn’t do these past two years - provide a check and balance system to governance. While the Republicans held the majority, President Trump was basically allowed to run our government any way he wanted, with Republicans, for the most part, aiding and abetting.
The non-legal net result of all of these investigations has been to keep the tumult of 2016 election front and center in the public’s mind, creating a degree of political burnout just as the 2020 presidential race begins. How can a Democratic candidate running for President in this environment combat voter political fatigue? Come out big, strong and focused for the long haul.
In less than two months, we’ve seen a large and diverse Democratic field of presidential candidates emerge, with more announcements expected to come. The size and diversity of the field alone will make this a totally different kind of race for Democrats. While they seem to be operating with an all in mentality, there’s one potential liability based upon their sheer numbers. A big field of Democrats running for President can damage one another in the run up to the nomination. Think debates. Any damage done will absolutely be seized upon by Trump.
The large field of Republican candidates in the 2016 race wrecked havoc upon themselves leaving each with some form of scarring, and Donald Trump emerging as the last man standing. Amazingly enough, at this point in the 2020 race we can’t even say for certain whether or not President Trump will actually be the Republican nominee. The results of all of the investigations surrounding Trump will, in all likelihood, come out during the next nearly two years of campaign time. That leaves a significant question mark for Republicans going forward.
If Donald Trump leaves office before his term has officially ended, Vice President Mike Pence would assume the office of President. If yet further unforeseen circumstances arise that remove Pence from the presidency, our Constitution dictates that the next in line is the Speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi would then be sworn in as President of the United States.
That’s an interesting scenario.