Mueller's Report

We know that Trump is the winner of the Mueller report. At least for now, he avoids indictment and impeachment. But where’s there’s a winner, there’s also usually a loser. The obvious answer is Democrats in general or the mainstream media or Jim Comey. But that’s just scoreboard politics. The real loser are the ideas emanating from the far left — the New Green Deal, Medicare For All, and much higher taxes. 

To win in 2020, Democrats need both higher turnout than 2016 (the good news is, it’s hard for it to be much worse) and they need independents to either side with them or at least stay home. If Mueller had found evidence of collusion, it would have been difficult for a lot of independent voters to pick Trump, regardless of the usual factors — the economy and security — that determine re-election. But with Mueller coming up short, many independents will now feel free to vote either way. 

Maybe a recession hits and that dooms Trump. Maybe we end up in a stupid ground war somewhere and that dooms him. But counting on either is a bad electoral strategy. Odds are, Trump runs on a good economy and while he’ll continue his hostility towards the rest of the world, aggressive tweets are probably as tangible as it gets.  That may be enough for many independents to side with him. If the Democrats want to prevent that, they’ll need ideas that don’t just appeal to the base. 

 Some of the concepts being touted by politicians like Sanders and Ocasio Cortez make sense. Medicare for All, in my view, could work. But when your message is designed solely to excite the base, it’s a great way to win a primary but a lot less effective in November. I don’t expect progressives who truly believe in socialism to hold back (nor should they). But we could easily see pols who sway with the wind (Gillibrand, Booker, maybe Harris) stop parroting Elizabeth Warren and we could see funders and traditional Democratic aligned groups decide that Biden (or someone centrist) is their best bet to take out Trump.  

We’ll see but failing to see what the Mueller report really means and failing to adjust for it could prove fatal for Democrats in nineteen months. 

Bradley Tusk