Bob Ehrlich: As the Campaign Season Heats Up, Dems Have Made It Clear They've Gone Off the Deep End


With Labor Day weekend now behind us, it’s time to look at what’s working — and what’s not — for the 2020 presidential campaigns.

Since 2016, candidate and then-President Trump’s policy agenda has been geared more toward working class as opposed to upper-middle-class voters — a subtle but very real change of focus for a GOP that has long been known as the party of Wall Street.

The Chamber of Commerce is accordingly unhappy, as reflected in a newfound willingness to support House Democrats in competitive districts. But the Trump-sponsored change of focus helped take down that supposedly impregnable blue wall in 2016 and may do so again in 2020.

Speaking of which, the apparent and dramatic conversion of big business toward the Democrats and away from Trump’s GOP marks the ascension of leftist social policy positions over traditional pro-market positions for much of the business sector.

This is especially true for big tech. It also further solidifies the long and strong relationship between the GOP and the small business community.

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“Do as I say, not as I do” is a familiar mantra of the entitled left.

And it’s not just about Nancy Pelosi’s hair appointment at an otherwise shuttered San Francisco salon, or Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kennedy’s eating indoors at a Maryland restaurant while he forbids the same behavior in his own city or Bill de Blasio working out in a New York City YMCA, even as his administration shut down the city’s schools and dine-in restaurants.

It’s voting to defund charter schools for poor children while sending their own kids to private school.

It’s attempting to limit gun rights for the average person while keeping armed security details for themselves.

Do you think the Democrats have made a strategic blunder in the 2020 presidential campaign?

It’s mandating masks, social distancing and shutdowns for all types of small businesses while indulging large and chaotic protests in the streets.

It’s the bottom-line Marie Antoinette condescension and hypocrisy of “let ‘em eat cake” elitism of progressive leaders that is not lost on the average voter.

The media’s nervous fascination with the Trump campaign’s focus on African-American voters has served to bury increasing support from Hispanic men. An issues portfolio of pro-life, pro-family, pro-legal immigration and support for small business makes this a potentially fruitful and long-lasting relationship.

The Democrats’ circa-2016 promise to appeal to white working-class voters never got off the ground. The sustained momentum of the “Bernie Bros” within the party took the effort down.

Should Mr. Biden fall at the hands of crossover, working-class Democrats, (a la Hillary Clinton), will the party leadership make a similar pledge? And who in leadership will step forward to back it all up?

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School choice became much more than a typical Republican policy prescription this year.

It morphed into a position central to the party’s campaign to broaden its appeal to African-Americans. Polls reflect consistent black support for public school charters and school choice. And recall the charter school movement was begun by female African-American members of the Wisconsin legislature.

The Democrats have made an interesting strategic choice this year.

Instead of their traditional middle-left policy mix, Democratic rhetoric (and platform) reflects a full-tilt left agenda.

The thought seems to be that the voters will not pay attention to issues (with the exception of indicting their depiction of the president’s COVID response) if Biden-Harris maintains total focus on the myriad personal evils associated with Donald J. Trump.

Another unique strategy call: Inaction in the face of rioting, looting, human casualties and property damage is normally a prescription for political defeat.

Yet literal Democratic silence loomed at the Democratic National Convention and elsewhere as the dominant nonresponse through the summer riots until recent polls began to reflect growing bipartisan disgust with Democratic leaders’ fecklessness in the face of ongoing violence.

Now comes a crusade of invective directed at Donald J. Trump. Such a classic Clintonian technique (blame the other guy for your mistakes) may have worked for the “great triangulator” — but can a mostly basement-dwelling Joe Biden pull it off?

Fifty-four days out, the dumbest news report I have seen was a CNN reporter assuring viewers that the Kenosha, Wisconsin protests were “mostly peaceful” while rioting, looting and fires burned out of control behind him.

A low point in media reporting — even for CNN. The moment produced lots of glee on the right, but it was a reminder of the paradoxical adage: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that everyone is not out to get you.”

I thought of that old line while searching for the usual post-convention national polls, but to no avail. Geez, a paranoid observer might conclude one party’s post-convention bounce was much larger than the other…

How rich of Hillary Clinton to advise Joe Biden to “not concede under any circumstances.” Recall when she and her media acolytes went apoplectic after candidate Trump repeatedly claimed the 2016 campaign was rigged in favor of Mrs. Clinton and that he accordingly would not be so quick to concede.

Thereafter, left-wing pundits killed many trees speculating on how Mr. Trump would never give up should he come up short on election night. Fast forward to today and the tables are turned 180 degrees. But then the former first lady has never been a model of consistency…

When liberal Democrats fall back on euphemistic verbs like “reimagine” (policing) and “aspire” (Green New Deal) you can read as follows: We’d better tone our act down before too many independents flee our island.

When Joe Biden contends that the real problem in cities is the presence of Trump-supporting right-wing militia, you can read as follows: We know this is insultingly dumb on its face, but blaming Trump is about the only thing we have to market this cycle.

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.