O’Rourke Denies Avenatti, and Words To The Wise About What We Must and Mustn’t Do In 2020

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With the midterm elections a few days away, speculation is now heating up as to who Donald Trump’s adversary will be in the 2020 presidential race. All the usual cliched considerations are coming up, a progressive or a moderate, an old timer or a newcomer, what’s the magical answer? That led columnist Frank Bruni to consideration of what the race would sound like in a day and age where national discourse has plummeted to the sub-basement, and a chat with a rising Democratic star. New York Times:

Should his opponent join him in the mud, which is the approach that the lawyer Michael Avenatti not only recommends but models? Is it even possible to avoid such a descent? Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton apparently think not, to judge by recent public comments of theirs (“When they go low, we kick ’em,” Holder said).

I happened to reconnect with O’Rourke recently in Fort Worth, Tex., and I asked him about the optimal tone for a Democrat at this juncture and about Avenatti’s and Holder’s repudiations of Michelle Obama’s “they go low, we go high” credo.

“Avenatti does not represent us,” O’Rourke told me, meaning most Democrats. “Eric Holder — what he said — that’s not where we’re at.” He added that among American voters, “there is a real concern about civility — not for the sake of manners but for the sake of the country working.”

People were expecting a vicious counterpunch, in true Avenatti-Trump fashion, but instead we got this.

That’s very sane and measured. Good for him.

This lengthy, must-read article goes on to caution about the traps that Democrats cannot fall into again.

And it [Democratic campaign] better not sneer at Trump and condescend to his supporters. No baskets, please, and no deplorables. Midwesterners who voted for him won’t be lured back into the Democratic fold if they’re made to feel ashamed about their decision and told that they were duped.

Axelrod made the same general point to me, and I think it’s the crucial counsel. “If Democrats are going to win in 2020, it can’t be with the careless presumption that everyone who voted for Trump is a toothless, ignorant racist,” he said, adding that voters who were still reeling from the 2008 financial collapse and voters disgusted by the paralysis on Capitol Hill “viewed Trump as the kick in the ass that Washington needed. There has to be room for these voters, but if they’re shunned and belittled for having supported him in the first place, they will just be driven further into his column.”

The article points out that Hillary couldn’t see how Trump could even be considered as a candidate, which was part of the problem. He wasn’t taken seriously enough. We let ourselves be hoodwinked by laughing at him and listening to polls which predicted a 96% chance of Democratic victory. That’s why we’re in the mess we’re in now. While we were busy guffawing or being mortified, the thieves came in and yanked the rug right out from under us. Further, we are admonished that we can “tout Hillary’s popular vote victory, blame the Russians or comb the shadows for anything that absolves [Democrats] of error,” but that’s not going to help us win.

They dismiss Trump as an accident, a freak or a fad. It’s consoling, sure. It’s also an invitation to his next inauguration.

Any words about how crucial the 2020 election is would be an understatement. We have to have our heads on straight about this one and make selecting a candidate that can beat Trump our first and only priority. But right now, in the last days up to the midterm, let’s keep our eyes on the prize and win.

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