Program Success Magazine Fall 2020 - Page 13

Program Success 13 Fall 2020

Trump Stokes Fear . Biden and Harris Can Raise Hope .

The Washington Post Editorial Board
WHEN ALL the arguments between candidates are over , and voters have processed them , the emotions kick in . The decisive ones are fear and hope . At this profoundly raw , emotional moment in American history , the president of the United States has staked his future — and , therefore , the country ’ s — on fear . He has little or nothing to show in the way of tangible accomplishments . What would have been his strongest claim to success , a robust U . S . economy , has disappeared in large part due to his mismanagement of a pandemic . He seeks reelection through stoking fear and hostility toward a long list of enemies — racial minorities , immigrants , criminals , other countries and the Democratic opposition itself . In other words , he is doubling down on the strategy that got him elected in the first place .
It is vitally important to the country ’ s future that this not succeed . Therefore , it matters not only what President Trump ’ s opponents advocate ; it also matters how they advocate it . The attitude and approach they project may be a lot more important than policy specifics of their campaign , because in the final analysis this is not just a campaign to fight the pandemic , salvage the economy , restore the U . S . position in the world or end inaction on climate change — though it is all of those things . It is a campaign to rescue American democracy from a toxic form of leadership that has badly damaged our political culture and might irrevocably harm it if Mr . Trump has another four years .
If we had to name the one thing the United States most needs , and that Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala D . Harris must convincingly offer , it would be confidence . People need confidence that government will address the pandemic rationally . They need confidence that it will manage the economy according to sound theory and objective data . They need confidence , above all , that the men and women in the executive branch are operating for the public interest , and in good faith .
A credible promise to restore confidence in America ’ s democratic institutions might do more to inspire a wide electoral coalition , and to gain a mandate for governing in 2021 , than all the five-point policy proposals in the world . If Democrats need an example of how important optimism is to campaigning amid crisis , they need only review the history of Ronald Reagan ’ s successful run in 1980 . One need not agree with everything Reagan stood for — we don ’ t — to acknowledge the power of his confident , optimistic message amid multiple economic , energy and foreign policy challenges .
Signs are that Mr . Biden and Ms . Harris understand this . Mr . Biden launched his campaign on a theme of national unity , in contrast to the horrific violence of Charlottesville and Mr . Trump ’ s divisive response to it . Ms . Harris noted in her first appearance as Mr . Biden ’ s running mate that “ America is crying out for leadership .” Mr . Trump will relentlessly counterattack with insults and negativity of all kinds , untethered to truth or reality . The Democratic ticket must defend itself without getting bogged down in verbal trench warfare . The case against Mr . Trump makes itself , and the 50-plus percent of voters who disapprove of his performance don ’ t need persuading . There is a broad majority to be rallied for a different kind of politics . Raising hopes rather than fueling fears , Mr . Biden and Ms . Harris can assemble it .