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LEW GILLILAND: Where Trump stands a year out (opinion)

A year from this past Sunday, Nov. 3, 2020, voters will head to the polls to cast their ballots for president.

As with all elections that involve an incumbent president, this one figures to be a referendum on the current occupant of the White House, which begs the question: A year out, where does Donald Trump stand in his quest for a second term?

I think the answer is “pretty good.” In fact, I think he’s probably in better shape than many people think.

The economy is in good shape. The October jobs report, released Friday, was stronger than expected, and job creation numbers for September and August were revised upward, reflecting even stronger growth than originally announced. Unemployment ticked up nationally to 3.6 percent last month, but that was due in part to an increase in the number of people (by 325,000) actively seeking work.

Trump made a foreign policy splash recently with the decision to remove American troops from Syria. It was a decision that drew heavy criticism from both Democrats and Republicans in Washington, but the hunch here is that decision played well with folks outside the beltway.

Ours is not a country that seeks conflict. History tells us this. Americans were initially against entering World War I or II, and the lessons of Vietnam still linger heavy on the American psyche. We don’t like putting our troops in harm's way for extended periods in far away nations to help fight somebody else’s war. 

Trump later said he may keep some troops in Syria to make sure oil fields don’t fall into ISIS hands — a wise move — and not long after was able to announce the death of the leader of that organization, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself during a raid by  American Special Forces.

I’ve written before that I think the best opponent Democrats could field next year would be former Vice President Joe Biden because of his strength in places such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, but my hunch at this point is the nominee is going to be Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren is a liberal extremist who last week unveiled a medicare for all plan that she claims won’t require any kind of tax increase for the middle class. If that sounds fishy to you, well, it’s because it should.

Warren’s extremism is symbolic of today’s Democratic Party. It’s an extremism powered by the lie that our nation can solve all it’s problems by taxing the rich and corporations into oblivion, that you can hand out free health care, free college and guaranteed government jobs paying $15 an hour without anyone but the super rich having to make a sacrifice.

I’m a big believer that you underestimate any candidate at your own risk, but I think Warren will have a hard time selling her brand of liberalism outside obvious liberal strongholds. Even “Saturday Night Live” made fun of her health care plan last weekend. 

As an aside, if she is the nominee, my hope is she’ll pick Beto O’Rourke as her running mate in a likely futile effort to recapture the Kennedy-Johnson, Massachusetts-Texas magic of 1960. Beto, who dropped out of the race last week, emerged as the biggest airhead of the 2020 cycle (I’d use a stronger word, but this is a family paper), and his willingness to get behind practically any idea, no matter how stupid or unconstitutional, that he thinks will make liberals happy would assure us plenty of entertainment as the campaign heads down the stretch.

And, yes, I haven’t forgotten about the ongoing impeachment effort. A couple of things worthy of note here. First, let’s acknowledge that this effort isn’t new. Democrats, blinded by their own arrogance, were unwilling to accept the results of Election Day 2016 and have been trying to impeach Trump since Jan. 20, 2017, the day he was inaugurated. First, it was alleged collusion with Russia. When that didn’t work, they tried alleged obstruction of justice. Having made no headway there, they’re now trying Ukraine. 

The whole thing, frankly, has all the markings of a big waste of time. Assuming the Democratically-controlled House has the guts to go through with impeachment, the odds of a Senate trial resulting in a Trump conviction are about the same as Nick Saban pitching in to help with Auburn recruiting.

Secondly, as I have pointed out before in this space, when you go big-game hunting in politics, you better not miss. If Trump survives the impeachment effort, the result is likely to be a Republican Party completely united behind the president and a whole bunch of swing voters in flyover country, where Trump is viewed much differently than in interagency Washington, disgusted by the whole process. 

In other words, with the election a year out, Democrats may be well on their way to strengthening Trump’s hand.

Lew Gilliland is managing editor of The Daily Home.