(Read the Arabic version of this article here.)
Perfect sight is designated as “20/20.” People lucky enough to have such good vision can see things clearly at a distance as well as up close without the aid of eyeglasses. As we approach the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, clear vision is necessary if America is to reverse the damage of the Trump presidency at home and abroad. Although balloting is still 19 months away, and we have yet to go through the grueling primary races, the 2020 election will the most crucial in the history of the United States.
First and foremost, the upcoming elections will register the impact of a major generational change in US politics. Baby Boomers, born between 1945 and 1963, are no longer the largest segment of the US population. A large and progressive bloc of young people will be voting for the first time in 2020, and their visions of America’s challenges are distinctly different from their elders’ views. Americans under the age of 40 face a new array of financial, social, and environmental crises that will profoundly shape their voting behavior, and thus, the political leadership of the United States. At present, the rising left wing of the Democratic party is particularly responsive to these looming crises and concerns. A recent poll revealed that more than half of young Americans feel positively about socialism. Given the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report warning that the human race has only a dozen years to reverse the worst impacts of global warming, young people are deeply concerned about the fate of the planet and eagerly welcome a serious reconsideration of humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels. And as the recent contretemps over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments about US foreign policy reveal, young Americans, and particularly young American Jews, are more sympathetic to Omar’s views and concerns than they are to those of the pro-Israel lobby and the Republican party, even though President Trump took to Twitter and the airwaves to denounce the Democratic party as “anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli.”
Polling data clearly show that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is a top contender for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Sanders would be the first American Jew to run for president if he wins the nomination next summer. How can progressives be anti-Semitic if they are overwhelmingly supportive of a Jewish socialist candidate? Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as Jews on the left of the political spectrum, are among Sanders’ most vocal supporters.
Without a doubt, the United States is about to enter a new political era. Topics and viewpoints that were considered taboo just a decade ago are now at the center of political debate. The current Democratic Congress is raising concerns about voting rights and the role of the Electoral College. Young people are skipping school to protest the dangers of global warming. School teachers are going on strike en masse and marching on state capitol buildings to demand decent salaries, and adults of all ages are more interested in socialized medicine than ever before. The outsized influence of lobbies and corporations on legislation is up for serious debate nine years after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United handed America’s political process over to big money.
Ten years ago, the Republican party could mobilize a wide base of voters to go to the polls to oppose gay rights and women’s rights. These issues are no longer key concerns of an increasingly youthful electorate comfortable with diverse forms of sexuality and gender fluidity. The Republican party has relied extensively on fear of the “other” to get out the vote for the last forty years. As more Americans feel the pinch of economic inequality and see the impact of ecological damage, however, dividing and ruling the populace in this manner is not going to work.
Even those who voted for Trump in 2016 are disappointed with the emptiness of his promises. Coal is never coming back as a major economic force (thank God!). Tariffs on China are hurting the very people Trump said he wanted to help—middle class white farmers in the Midwest. Trump is definitely helping the wealthiest Americans remain wealthy, and while about 25 percent of the US population will support Trump unconditionally, he cannot count on the wider base of support he enjoyed in 2016.
Meanwhile, Democratic voters who stayed home rather than voting for Hilary Clinton in 2016 are now promising that they will vote for anyone opposing Donald Trump in 2020. And the current crop of Democratic and Independent candidates for the Democratic nomination are impressive and varied. There is even speculation that Bernie Sanders will run as a Democrat, not an Independent Democratic Socialist. Despite his age, he is still leading the field among younger voters.
It will be very surprising if the Democrats do not take the White House as well as both the House and Senate in 2020. New visions will usher in new political realities and open up new possibilities for America at home and abroad. For the first time in two years, there is reason for optimism in the United States.