President Donald Trump and Missouri Governor Mike Parson

The Republican incumbent in the 2020 presidential election, according to former president Jimmy Carter, is an illegitimate president who was elected through Russian interference. Missouri’s governor, Mike Parson, was not elected to that office at all; he was elected lieutenant governor and took the higher office when Eric Greitens resigned from it. So when Governor Parson endorsed President Donald Trump for reelection, it was an unelected governor endorsing an arguably illegitimate president. However, what Parson said in his endorsement should be heard very clearly and taken very seriously by candidates and voters who aim to defeat Trump in 2020.

“As 2020 Democrat candidates argue over who is the most socialist, who can raise taxes higher, or who can increase government control of our lives sooner, President Trump has unleashed America’s potential, delivered historic tax cuts, put Americans and our businesses first, fulfilled his promise to secure our borders, prioritized fixing our broken health care system, and restored America’s military strength,” Parson stated. “President Trump has sparked an economic boom across our entire nation, including historic job growth, higher wages, and record-low unemployment right at home here in Missouri. The case for electing President Trump for a second term is simple: America needs more freedom and less government, more jobs and higher wages, stronger borders, and an improved health care system.”

This is a sneak preview of how Republicans will try to sell Trump’s reelection and to marginalize his Democratic opposition. We know that this message is based on fantasy rather than reality, in particular the assertion that reelecting Trump would usher in “an improved health care system.” We know that it gives Trump undue credit for economic trends that he inherited. We know that Parson’s regurgitated Republican talking points leave out the great many reasons Trump has inflamed so many passions to defeat him: his stoking racial resentment, boorishness, ignorance, cruelty and embrace of dictators. Nor does it mention many of the key issues of our time: global warming, gun violence, student debt, nor a huge tax cut that offered little to the lower and middle classes and swelled the national debt.

However, anyone who wants to defeat Trump needs to pay attention to the fact that Republicans already have a message for 2020, and it’s an attractive message: “more freedom and less government, more jobs and higher wages, stronger borders, and an improved health care system.” Forgetting however much one may be outraged at the Trump presidency, we must face the fact that the Republicans already have a compelling message – and a strong economy to lend credence to its central tenet of “more jobs and higher wages.” They also have a well-crafted dismissal of Democrats – as socialists who would raise taxes and increase government meddling in our lives – that some of the Democratic candidates are providing evidence to support.

When the squabbling of the Democratic primary is over, Democrats will need to unite around a single, simple message, and it has to be better than the Republican message – “more freedom and less government, more jobs and higher wages, stronger borders, and an improved health care system.” Or Democrats must find a way to coopt these disingenuous Republican talking points and convince voters that their candidate can deliver freedom, jobs, health care and a solution to our southern border crisis better than Trump. What should be unthinkable – that Americans could reelect this divisive, disastrous and arguably illegitimate president – should be considered at this point likely. We strongly encourage Democratic candidates and their supporters to keep the appeal of the Republican message to gullible voters in mind as we fight out this mess of a Democratic primary. 

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