The Democrats are Donald Trump's one hope for re-election

Sunday after church I stopped at Java Joe's in the Court Avenue district of Des Moines for coffee. Standing next to me in line was Corey Booker, who is a Democratic senator from New Jersey, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, not a fan of Brett Kavanaugh- and a likely candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

In Iowa, and especially in Des Moines, we're used to encountering such personages. Usually, they're campaigning for the Iowa caucuses. That was doubtless part of Sen. Booker's agenda in Des Moines, but there seemed to be something else also going on. Java Joe's was filled with folks from Minnesota who appeared to be in town for some event or other. Nearly all of them recognized Sen. Booker and made a big deal of their admiration for his opposition to Justice Kavanaugh. "How could such a thing have happened?," wailed one distraught Minnesotan, referring to the confirmation of our newest Supreme Court justice. Sen. Booker didn't know.

Like many other people who are not friends of our president, I have taken comfort in the likelihood- especially as indicated by his continued poor showing in the polls- that the American people will not be so foolish as to re-elect him. His followers, who for the most part are as delusional as he, scoff, of course. But as I considered the fawning over Sen. Booker yesterday morning, it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn't be so sure that we'll be done with Donald Trump come January of 2021.

Assuming, of course, that he's not impeached or removed from office under the 25th Amendment due to psychological instability before then.

You can't beat somebody with nobody. And there is only one Democrat- former Vice-President Joe Biden- who is being discussed as a potential 2020 nominee whom I am confident would, in fact, defeat Mr. Trump.

Mr. Biden is himself something of a loose cannon. Like the president, he is likely to say almost anything at any given moment. If it's Trump vs. Biden in 2020, we will all be able to look forward to another cringe-filled four years no matter who wins.

But Biden, despite all his quirks, is an experienced and finally sensible man who would likely pose little danger to the world by being in possession of the launch codes for America's ICBMs. To say that he would not make an ideal president is an understatement. I, for one, have had my fill of quirky chief executives, and personality aside Mr. Biden's positions on many issues are hardly ideal from my point of view.

But the fact is that he's probably the best of a very strange crowd. The lessons of recent Democratic primaries seems to be that Democrats nationally are in pretty much the same place Republicans were in in 2016. By rights, 2016 should have been Ted Cruz's year. Republicans- radicalized, perhaps, by eight years of Barack Obama- had cast moderation to the winds long before the Trump movement crawled out from under the various rocks where its slimy constituent parts had been brumating. Republicans still hadn't gotten to the place where the appalling and disgusting epithet "cucks" (indicating that the people referred to are willing to pimp out their wives and daughters to black men) had become commonplace in party circles, but people who stood where the party itself had stood for a generation on ideological matters were already being implausibly referred to as RINOs ("Republicans in Name Only"). Our national polarization predates Donald Trump; the crazies had taken over the Republican party long before he came along to blacken the party's name and trash its heritage.  But it was not yet a party in which Klansmen and Nazis and Alex Jones types could feel quite as much at home as they do now.

You can make a case that the Democrats never really found themselves after McGovern and 1972, although movements back toward the center kept popping up and arguably the Carter and Clinton years offered some degree of moderation. But Donald Trump seems to have had the same effect on the Democrats that Barack Obama had on the Republicans. To be a respectable, responsible centrist like Joe Biden, with strong ties to the party establishment and positions rooted more or less in the mainstream is no advantage in today's Democratic party. Lest we forget, of course, the donkey, as well as the elephant, had been nibbling the jimson weed in 2016;  Hillary Clinton had to beat back a challenge from Bernie Sanders to become the person Trump defeated that year, and it was a pretty stiff challenge, too.

Today Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Deval Patrick, Corey Booker- well, let's just say a not very formidable batch of ideologues and left-wing extremists- join Biden in the field. One of them will probably be the nominee. And we will look back on 2016 with nostalgia. The time is past when the Democrats as a party would be smart enough to somewhere dig up a sound, reasonable, non-scary, experienced, common-sense centrist who would appeal to those of us who long for an alternative to Trump but also cannot abide the opposite kind of crazy can rally behind.  Bill Clinton is the guy the Democrats need in 2020. They're likely to end up with Bernie or Elizabeth Sanders instead.

Or Robespierre, if he were alive and constitutionally eligible.

President Trump says that he longs to face Biden. But President Trump, of course, is actively delusional. That's part of the reason why we can't afford to have him in the White House.

No, I'm afraid it's no done deal that Mr. Trump will be beaten two years from now despite his unpopularity and manifest unfitness for office. The Democrats, I fear, will find it impossible not to nominate somebody who will be just as unacceptable to dissatisfied centrists- to the people they need to rally to their banner in order to beat Trump- as is Trump himself.

Which is why it is so very, very important that a centrist third party emerge to offer the American people common sense and sanity in an age where both of the national parties are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.


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