Rivers: Is the US presidential election going to be a replay of 2016 ?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 7th, 2020



Haven’t we seen this movie before? In the Tin Cup, Kevin Costner plays a talented golfer whose ego compels him to try the same impossible shot over and over again – until he loses. It’s a different game but the US Democratic Party appears headed for a replay of 2016, except this time with more of a duffer holding the club.

Barring an upswell of support for the lone democratic socialist in the race for president – it appears that the moderate Joe Biden has overtaken front running Bernie Sanders in delegates for the Democratic leadership convention in July and will become the standard bearer for that party. That could be an almost perfect repeat of 2016, where Bernie was summarily shown the door.

biden 2

Joe Biden – Thinking?

But at least Clinton, unlikeable as many found her, was cogent and could finish a sentence without stumbling into cognitive dissidence. Joe Biden has yet to prove that he can speak in anything resembling complete and coherent thoughts. Even the current president is, arguably, a better communicator. It will be so much entertainment watching these two statesmen of yesterday’s politics face-off in debate.

Bernie 1

Bernie Saunders: Doesn’t appear to be what the Democrats want.

Bernie calls himself a democratic socialist but his policies, like Canadian-style single payer health care are hardly revolutionary. Still, whether it is the language or just plain ignorance on the part of American voters, they can’t get their heads around government managed health insurance.

Perhaps they haven’t heard of Medicare, universal seniors’ health insurance, has been in place since the 60’s and spends $740 billion a year accounting for almost 4% of U.S. gross domestic product and over 15% of total US federal spending. They’d rather let the private insurance companies dictate how much medical care they get and where – and pay twice as much as the rest of the world for the privilege of having less accessible health care.

They don’t deserve Bernie, one might say – but it won’t matter anyway. He’s not likely to gain enough support from the party loyalists to become their standard bearer. They’ll never vote for a communist as Trump would, no doubt, have explained, given the chance.

Trump Donald

Donald Trump: He does manage stress well.

But he won’t have to since the odds are now that Biden will be the Dem’s candidate. And Trump might still likely win, despite his own record. He is the proverbial Mr. Teflon after all, and absolutely nothing he has done sticks to him, not even after being impeached. He learned long ago that the more outrageous you are the more people love you. And the bigger liar you can be the more they will believe you.

Almost half of Americans continue to support him, despite or perhaps, because of his antics. And his trump card will be Biden’s somewhat messy history in poor old ever-troubled Ukraine. Biden was implicated in the political maneuvering to remove a former prosecutor there. And his son bagged a whack of cash just to sit on the Board of a Ukrainian petroleum enterprise, a job for which he had no apparent qualification – other than being the US VP’s son.

It worked with Hillary – Benghazi and her improper emails – and Trump will ride this horse until nobody trusts Biden, despite his mostly impeccable political career. So if I were placing a bet today I’d put my money on Trump – as I did last time.

But eight months until November can be a long time in politics, especially in an era of the dreaded COVID 19. Already prognosticators are spouting dystopian scenarios, including a potential death toll in the millions and a dramatic economic crash. Tourism is already dying and those romantic ocean cruises are destined to become a quaint piece of ancient history.

Trump didn’t cause COVID-19, nor the recession which will accompany the pandemic. But his penchant for borrowing money to get tax cuts for the wealthy has led to a 50% increase in the size of the US deficit. And that will limit his ability to help finance any kind of recovery.

Joe with Barak golf

Joe Biden playing a game of golf with former President Barak Obama

Whether that nasty disease will register a difference in November, or even in July, when the Democrats stage their leadership convention, remains to be seen. But for the US president, who owns a couple of golf courses, he should appreciate that he is still in the rough and his second swing at winning the presidency may miss big time.

And as for the democrats, they’re looking for a mulligan, but may well be headed for the tin cup. They’re convinced they can hit a hole in one using the same swing as the last time – which ended up just getting them a big fat bogey.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking. Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington. He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject. Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa. Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links

Tin Cup –    Democrats –   Biden and Ukraine

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4 comments to Rivers: Is the US presidential election going to be a replay of 2016 ?

  • Joe Gaetan

    Ray: Surely you mean uncle Joe is exhibiting cognitive dissonance (which I agree with) and not cognitive dissidence (a protest against official policy) that would leave a lot of people befuddled? And yes, I agree we are about to see a replay of 2016.
    Now that Del Duca has been anointed as leader of the Ontario Liberals we may also see a replay in Ontario? That will be a good thing as we are already $300+ Billion in debt.

  • Mike

    Ray ….love the golf analogy. It is playoff time and I predict a bogey for Trump but a quadruple bogey for the Dems. It seems political parties are too inbred themselves and can’t help but repeat their mistakes. The GOP in the U.S. didn’t want change but got Trump thumped on them and now seem to be riding that horse. Hopefully they will learn and bring some change for their 2024 candidate. The Dems sadly are locked in mediocrity. Both of their main candidates are too old for the job. As they have a minimum age for U.S. President, surely they should have maximum age. Should Biden win, as Steve says above, who will really be running the country is the real question people should be asking themselves.

    And further on the topic of political parties repeating their disasters. Look at home. We have the federal conservatives with a slate of repeat, picked over candidates I don’t think anyone wants as a choice. The Ontario Liberals with a new leader, just like the old leader(s)….privilege for himself, nice pool built inside the setback from environment land abutting his but thump all those rural people with the greenbelt telling them what they cannot do with their property. Oh well, as least they are not geriatric like those in the U.S.

  • Stephen White

    Sanders isn’t going to win the nomination because the Democratic Party establishment won’t let him. When all those retired autoworkers in Michigan and Indiana, and those retired steelworkers in Pennsylvania, figure out that Bernie’s proposed healthcare plan will actually be worse than the gold plated plans offered by their former employers, they’ll rally to Biden. The fact that Bernie’s plan will cost somewhere between $2 and $20 trillion, and private estimates peg it at closer to $30 trillion, won’t help his election chances one iota. The Democrats will stick with the safer alternative….gaffes, missteps, memory lapses and hackneyed jokes aside!

    What may arguably impact the outcome of this year’s election, much more than in previous years, is the person Biden selects as his running. If he’s smart he’ll select someone such as Kamala Harris, the Senator from California, who is not only bright, accomplished and articulate but who is also black and female. In a nation that still hasn’t elected a female leader that may present some obvious advantages. However, if Trump ditches Mike Pence in favour of Nikki Haley, that advantage could be minimized. Then you would have an election where the more interesting and better quality candidates are actually the Vice Presidential nominees.

  • Steve Holman

    It is actually quite remarkable what Trump has gotten done given the constant efforts to destroy him and all those who work for him. He has also had constant leaks from within, being devoured by the main stream media that I don’t think any President has ever had. Most unfortunate is the parallel universes created by the right and left, each with their own narratives, explanations for everything and their version of the truth. While it is true that Trump was a force behind the tax cuts, it was the Republican led house which needed to pass matching spending cuts, which never happened – that wasn’t Trumps fault. Despite all this, some bipartisan work was done, USMCA for example. Its too bad these accomplishments didn’t shine through the partisan warring. As Canadians it is easy to criticize the US health care system but I don’t think it is that easy. Americans are shocked at the wait times and lack of doctor choice/ supply we have in Canada, just as we are shocked at the much higher per diem health costs and relatively worse life expectancies in the US. To each his own on this count. A very interesting narrative involves Trump being characterized as a dictator by the left, at war with deep state and bureaucracy in order to get his way on things – OR is he the outsider and disruptor, actually speaking truth to the power of the democracy? It does make you wonder who really is running the country.