A group of Honduran migrants arrives to the Mexican side of the border after crossing the Suchiate River aboard a raft made out of tractor inner tubes and wooden planks, on the the border with Guatemala, in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. The entry into Mexico via the bridge that connects the two countries has been closed. The main group of migrants have moved about 30 feet back from the gate that separates them from Mexican police to establish a buffer zone. About 1,000 migrants now remain on the bridge between Guatemala and Mexico. Moises Castillo, AP
Donald Trump took the campaign slogan to social media (primarily Twitter), using the hashtags #makeamericagreatagain and its abbreviation #maga. In response to criticism regarding his frequent and untraditional usage of social media, Trump defended himself by tweeting "My use of social media is not Presidential - it's MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!" on July 1, 2017. This comment justified his usage of social media as main method of communicating to his base.
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If the next presidential election were held today, there's a decent chance that President Trump would be re-elected. Despite his litany of scandals and his abysmally low (yet stable) approval rating, he is benefiting enormously from a strong economy. The GDP experienced 4.2 percent growth in the second quarter of 2018, the unemployment rate is now at an 18-year low, and the stock market is booming. In perhaps the best news for Trump, one of the strongest indicators of an incumbent president's re-election prospects, consumer confidence, is at its highest level since 2000.
Trump has even gone after Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stephanie Clifford, who makes porn movies under the name Stormy Daniels and says she was paid off to remain silent about a sexual encounter with Trump. Avenatti says he is exploring a 2020 Democratic bid generally viewed as a huge long shot. After Avenatti announced last week that he is representing a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Trump banded him a “third-rate lawyer” and “total lowlife.”
But for most people in the United States, life is better than it has ever been. We have more rights, fewer obstacles, and greater opportunity than generations past. For the most part, we live longer, healthier lives. Fewer of our children die; fewer go hungry; more are literate and thriving. Equality is also not a zero-sum game, and gains by women and minority groups have not come at a proportionate negative cost to white men.
After a round of speculation about whether former Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee, might join the 2020 fray — a storyline Kerry has refused to knock down while promoting his new book — Trump lampooned the idea, tweeting that he “should only be so lucky” to face Kerry. “[A]lthough the field that is currently assembling looks really good – FOR ME!” Trump added.
Democrats might get started on honing an economic message that will resonate. That means exposing the weaknesses of the Trump economy now and highlighting the fact that corporations and those in the top 1 percent have been its main beneficiaries, not average workers. In other words, Democrats have to adopt the full-throated progressive critiques of the economy expressed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, whether or not either ends up as the party's standard bearer in 2020, and reject the whimpering compromises of Chuck Schumer.
One immediate consequence of this would be that it would give guys like Ben Sasse and Mike Lee, who sometimes like to position themselves as more high-minded than Trump, the opportunity to actually vote against the president sometimes. Any Trump-Pelosi deal could easily weather a dozen or so defections from the right that would allow that crew to own the brand of “true conservatives” without needing to do anything to check Trump’s corruption or authoritarianism.
While Trump is sui generis, history offers guidance on the folly of predicting distant elections. At this moment in 1989, George H.W. Bush, having kept his promise not to raise taxes and with communism collapsing, seemed invincible. Three years later, he was defeated. In 2009, Barack Obama was in trouble, with unemployment soaring to 10 percent, up sharply from what it was two years earlier, and with his major health-care initiative seemingly stalled in the Senate. Three years later he was re-elected.
So if you look, for instance, at the speeches of John F. Kennedy, you won’t find them littered with exceptionals, indispensables, or their equivalents. In a pre-inaugural speech he gave in January 1961 on the kind of government he planned to bring to Washington, for instance, he did cite the birth of a “great republic,” the United States, and quoted Puritan John Winthrop on the desirability of creating a country that would be “a city upon a hill” to the rest of the world, with all of humanity’s eyes upon us. In his inaugural address (“Ask not what your country can do for you…”), he invoked a kind of unspoken greatness, saying, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” It was then common to speak of the United States with pride as a “free nation” (as opposed to the “enslaved” ones of the communist bloc) rather than an exceptional one. His only use of “great” was to invoke the US- and Soviet Union–led blocs as “two great and powerful groups of nations.”
The temporary order was replaced by Presidential Proclamation 9645 on September 24, 2017, which permanently restricts travel from the originally targeted countries except Iraq and Sudan, and further bans travelers from North Korea and Chad, and certain Venezuelan officials. After lower courts partially blocked the new restrictions with injunctions, the Supreme Court allowed the September version to go into full effect on December 4. In January 2018, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a challenge to the travel ban. The Court heard oral arguments on April 25, and ultimately upheld the travel ban in a June ruling.
Trump's political party affiliation has changed numerous times over the years. He registered as a Republican in Manhattan in 1987, switched to Independent in 1999, Democrat in 2001, and back to Republican in 2009. He made donations to both the Democratic and the Republican party, party committees, and candidates until 2010 when he stopped donating to Democrats and increased his donations to Republicans considerably.
I have long been critical of Republicans who abandoned principles to stand with Trump and I am as critical of Republicans who abandon principles to oppose Trump. Principle should stay because people go. The Kavanaugh nomination has been clarifying in this regard. Seeing some conservatives willing to aid and abet character assassins because Trump nominated Kavanaugh is disgusting.
Think of this as part of a post-Vietnam Reagan reboot, a time when the United States in Rambo-esque fashion was quite literally muscling up and over-arming in a major way. Reagan presided over “the biggest peacetime defense build-up in history” against what, referencing Star Wars, he called an “evil empire”—the Soviet Union. In those years, he also worked to rid the country of what was then termed “the Vietnam Syndrome” in part by rebranding that war a “noble cause.” In a time when loss and decline were much on the American brain, he dismissed them both, even as he set the country on a path toward the present moment of 1 percent dysfunction in a country that no longer invests fully in its own infrastructure, whose wages are stagnant, whose poor are a growth industry, whose wealth now flows eternally upward in a political environment awash in the money of the ultra-wealthy, and whose over-armed military continues to pursue a path of endless failure in the Greater Middle East.
In 1987 Trump spent almost $100,000 (equivalent to $215,407 in 2017) to place full-page advertisements in three major newspapers, proclaiming that "America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves." The advertisements also advocated for "reducing the budget deficit, working for peace in Central America, and speeding up nuclear disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union." After rumors of a presidential run, Trump was invited by Democratic senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, and Arkansas congressman Beryl Anthony Jr., to host a fundraising dinner for Democratic Congressional candidates and to switch parties. Anthony told The New York Times that "the message Trump has been preaching is a Democratic message." Asked whether the rumors were true, Trump denied being a candidate, but said, "I believe that if I did run for President, I'd win." According to a Gallup poll in December 1988, Trump was the tenth most admired man in America.
In 2017, Matt Braynard, a key member of Trump's 2016 campaign staff, established the organization Look Ahead America. The organization has taken steps to target inactive voters in places such as New Hampshire. Trump came close to winning New Hampshire in the 2016 election. Look Ahead America has claimed that it will not be coordinating their efforts with the president.
Although Trump's early campaign filing is extraordinarily unusual, aspects of a "permanent campaign" are not entirely unprecedented in American politics. Such a phenomenon had a presence in the White House at least as early as the presidency of Bill Clinton. Under the advice of Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton's staff continued to engage in campaign methodology once in office, using polling for assistance in making decisions.