Four years after Hillary Clinton stood on a Democratic National Convention stage, cognizant she was in all likelihood the next president of the United States, Democrats appear to have learned nothing.
At that time, they believed the country was anxious for the third term of President Barack Obama. They believed she would fulfill that role as well as make history in her own right as the first woman to hold the nation's highest office.
They didn't understand that voters were tired of a tepid economic recovery, tired of governing by pen and phone, tired of the Benghazi lies, tired of the targeting of conservatives, tired of the "you-didn't-build-that" and "they cling to guns or religion" philosophies.
They sought somebody who was proud of America, who would give as could as they got, who said he would fight for the little guy, who would put the country ahead of whatever global conglomeration was currently being touted.
On Thursday night, Obama's vice president, Joe Biden, accepted his party's nomination for president. Previously, the party had showcased Obama, his wife, Clinton and her husband, the former president. It was literally back to the future.
The 77-year-old government lifer, in his acceptance speech, assured listeners government would solve everything. Whatever we didn't have enough of under Obama, we'll have more.
Taxes? There will be more of those, Biden promised. Gun control? There will be more of that. Climate change legislation, legislation that always ends up hurting the little guy the most? You bet.
His former rival for the nomination, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, told everybody the nominee will be the most liberal president since Franklin Roosevelt.
Biden himself said he'd "get control of the virus." Epidemiologists across the world must be waiting with bated breath on how he'll do what they've been unable to do.
In short, he'll take care of all the problems the way Obama did, but, you know, with more oomph. Plus the virus and the economic calamity it caused.
So, again, we rewind to 2016. Voters, they'd later admit, didn't like Clinton, but they also were looking for somebody different. That's how we got Trump, and it's Trump on whom voters will decide in November.
Ol' Joe can read his teleprompter speech and talk about "hope" and "light" and "love." And to accentuate the back-to-the-future theme, he even used his former boss's phrase, "This is our moment."
But Biden, frankly, was just the last Democrat standing, the one with the most recent victory when the coronavirus flipped the script on the country. And today, no one is clamoring for a man who hasn't had a check from anyone but the federal government since his 20s. All but the low-information voters understand the federal government can't solve every crisis by spending more taxpayer dollars. It just doesn't work that way.
So, as in 2016, the onus is on Trump. Enough voters gambled then that the nominee they didn't know would be better than the one they did.
Now they know him. Some who voted for him don't like what they got. Some are more enthused now than they were in 2016. And we dare say there are some who didn't vote for him in 2016 that will this time around.
Will voters think of how strong the economy was until the virus? Will they think of the record low unemployment for Blacks and Hispanics? Will they think of the jobs that came back from overseas? Will they think of how the Islamic State was largely wiped out in Iraq and the Abraham Accords recently completed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates?
Will they acknowledge Trump had little chance to make domestic advances because Democrats were trying every trick in their book, including impeachment, to take him down since the day he was elected? Will they understand that hindsight involving a global pandemic is easy, but that navigating one from the get-go has no playbook?
Or will they dwell on the president's insults and the tweets that make him at times seem so unpresidential?
Biden's now had his moment, his opportunity to appeal to be the rightful heir to Obama, for those who want that. Trump's turn in the spotlight comes next week.
We can't imagine him reinventing himself in an effort to pull in votes. That could be both good and bad. No, the president himself — whatever's he done or not done in the mind of voters — will be how they'll decide.
Minus the coronavirus and with Democrats still believing voters want a return to the Obama era, Trump would likely be the favorite for re-election. With the virus, the electorate's not wild about either choice. Do they go with a leftward lurching version of what they had — and rejected? Or do they stay with what they have — hoping what was working before coronavirus might work again? Those will be the questions.
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