NEW YORK – In “The Ultimate Guide to the 2020 Election: 101 Nonpartisan Solutions to All the Issues that Matter,” two authors affiliated with the nonpartisan organization No Labels say that politics in the United States is riven by tribalism.
Ryan Clancy, who co-wrote the book with Margaret White, tells EFE that while President Donald Trump faces no serious challengers for the Republican nomination, the battle to be the Democratic nominee will likely go down to the wire.
“You have candidates who are very, very clearly trying to claim the left lane, and that’s Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And then you have candidates very clearly trying to grab the center, and that would be Joe Biden and (Amy) Klobuchar and (Mike) Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg,” Clancy says during a conversation at his office in Brooklyn.
Eventually, according to Clancy, it will become a two-person race between Sanders and whoever emerges as the standard-bearer for the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.
Clancy is unwilling even to venture a guess as to which candidate will win the backing of the moderates.
And he won’t rule out the possibility that the nomination will be remain up for grabs when the Democrats gather in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July for their national convention – a situation not seen in either party for more than 40 years.
He sees the deep division within the Democratic Party as a reflection of political polarization in the wider society.
“We’ve reached a point where for a lot of people in our political system, when they look at somebody in the other party they don’t see that person as a political opponent to be debated, they see that as an enemy to be destroyed,” Clancy says.
The Clancy Communications president and senior adviser to No Labels traces the origins of that mentality to the 2009-2017 administration of Barack Obama, the country’s first black president.
“Certainly in the years after President Obama got elected we started to see this rise on the right of the Tea Party movement, just a very kind of rigid, angry, intransigent group that really saw compromise of any form as a form of treason,” Clancy says.
Now, he adds, there are signs of a similar phenomenon on the left that opponents have dubbed the “Herbal Tea Party.”
“There’s some sort of partisan fire burning about something ... every day,” Clancy says. “And as a leader, you have a choice. You have the gas can and you have the water can – do I pour gas on the fire, do I pour water on the fire?”
Politicians often choose to fuel the flames.
“And Trump is clearly guilty of this, but so are plenty of Democrats on the other side,” Clancy insists.
Regarding the concerns of voters, the long-time political observer notes that “health care, education and housing are a huge issue in every election.”
“I do think two other huge issues that will be a battleground here will be inequality – and how do we deal with that – and climate change, that’s gonna be a huge issue,” he adds.
“It is gravely irresponsible for people on the right to deny that climate change exists. It’s just not defensible, but on the other side, the idea that like Bernie Sanders’ proposal, that within 10 years you are not only gonna get rid of all fossil fuel, you’re also gonna get rid of nuclear power which in America provides 20 percent of our electricity and all of it is carbon-free,” Clancy says.
“I think a lot of people will look at that and justifiably say that’s totally pie-in-the-sky, that isn’t at all grounded in reality, that’s a wish not a plan.”
Also on the agenda, according to the Clancy-White book, will be questions such as immigration, gun control, the growing power of tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook and, more fundamentally, debate about what the American Dream means today.
“Each side can actually give you statistics that will tell you their version of what the American Dream is, is true,” Clancy points out.
“So President Trump will say, and this is defensible, he’ll say the American Dream is alive and well because unemployment is the lowest it’s been in 50 years. We’re 11 years into this economic expansion and finally you’re starting to see wages increase, not only overall, but for people on the lower end of the economic scale. That’s a pretty good argument that things are pretty, pretty good.”
“But there’s a flipside to that,” Clancy continues. “Somebody from the left could say, and this would also be true too, yes, wages are starting to go up but not nearly as fast as the cost of education and health care and housing.”
Clancy then cited a survey by the US Federal Reserve that found roughly 40 percent of US residents would have to go into debt if confronted with a “an unexpected $400 expense” resulting from a car accident or illness.