On Monday night in Iowa, America was given a good hard look at the presidential campaign platform of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., at a CNN town hall event. The first thing that should be clear to conservatives is that Harris is an extreme leftist. The second is that she has a very real chance to become president if President Trump and the Republicans don’t proactively run on policies that answer the Left.
Harris’ proposed policies are straight out of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ policy wishlist. She wants to “eliminate” private health insurance in America, replacing it with “Medicare for All” single-payer health insurance. If you like your doctor, you can’t keep him, and if you work in the health insurance industry, you’re out of a job, pal. She believes “assault weapons” have no place in “civil society.” Democrats define most semi-automatic rifles as “assault weapons” if they look scary enough. She will not vote for a wall on the southern border “under any circumstances;” wants a new national paid paternal leave entitlement; and has endorsed the “Green New Deal” popularized by socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. — a set of policies that would reduce the American economy to agrarian subsistence by ending the free market system.
Republicans should not make the naive mistake of believing Harris is too far Left to win, should she be the Democratic nominee. Democrats are adopting these ideas because they poll well. “Medicare for All” has 70 percent support among the American people. Even 52 percent of Republicans support it! The “Green New Deal” is supported by more than 80 percent of registered voters. A 2017 poll found most Americans support paid paternal leave as well. Sure, Harris is campaigning on a bunch of free stuff, but voters like free stuff if they’re not told who pays for it. That last part is key. If voters are told that Medicare for All requires raising taxes and long wait times at the doctor, support for it collapses. If Americans are unwilling to spend just $10 a month to fight climate change, they won’t support a Green New Deal takeover of the free market system.
Harris’ campaign platform is vulnerable. Trump can beat her. But conservatives need to be clear-eyed about President Trump’s chances of getting re-elected, because it’s no guarantee. The president’s disapproval ratings are at an all-time high for his presidency. A new ABC/Washington Post poll found that 56 percent of respondents say they definitely won’t vote for Trump for re-election. Six in 10 Americans now say the country is on the “wrong track.” These polls do not mean that Trump will lose the 2020 election. But they do show that Trump has work to do to convince the American people he deserves a second term in office.
To win, the president and the Republican Party should offer alternative proposals to the Left’s agenda. It is not enough to scoff at Medicare for All and say “no.” The status quo needs to change. A recent Gallup survey found that Americans are least satisfied on issues like the availability of affordable health care, immigration levels, and the quality of public education. So President Trump should announce and have Republicans in Congress introduce bills to make health care more affordable. There’s no shortage of conservative ideas: reform medical malpractice, streamline the FDA drug approval process, promote health status insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. The same goes for immigration and national security. Take up a school choice bill in Congress. And if Democrats in the House of Representatives want to obstruct and fight these ideas, Trump needs to make the proactive case that they are too obstructionist and too far Left to govern.
Presidential campaign season is upon us, whether we like it or not. President Trump has two years to make the case for re-election against a Democratic Party that is offering serious, if dangerous, ideas to address the issues Americans care about. Conservatives cannot take Trump’s re-election for granted.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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