Beyond bashing Trump, the Democrats' message seems stuck in the past

The Democrats hoping to unseat President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE seem to have homed in on a familiar rallying cry: The president poses a “clear and present danger” to the country. But other than his posing a clear threat to the Democrats’ hope of recapturing the White House, what are they really saying?

Democrats have been sounding such alarmist prevarications since June 14, 2015, when Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announced his candidacy. At the time, Democrats said the “clear and present danger” was that Trump is “a racist demagogue” who would oppress racial minorities. Then the danger became that Trump would disrupt the strategic alliances America had built around the world. Then it was that he surely would lead America into an unwinnable nuclear war.

And so the various broadsides went, each alerting the American electorate to another supposed threat embodied by Trump’s candidacy.

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But two years into his term in office, none of the dire predictions has come to pass. America remains committed to NATO, on far better terms, with NATO countries agreeing to bear their fair share of the financial burden of our mutual defense commitments. Our country’s economy has become a raging inferno, sucking up almost everyone who is willing to work — including minorities.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices MORE, the apparent front-runner in the crowd seeking the Democratic nomination in 2020, went as far as to call the president an “existential threat” to America’s values and global standing. If Biden truly believed that, would he not notify the FBI or another law enforcement agency instead of chasing the president around Iowa, competing for attention?

But this is par for the course in any debate between Democrats and Republicans. Back in 2000, President George H.W. Bush supposedly was a threat to democracy. And according to Democrats, so was John McCain when the late Arizona senator ran against Barack Obama in 2008. McCain’s choice of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate was widely decried as the end of democracy as we know it. And yet, somehow, here we are, a stronger nation because we have honored the process of letting the American people choose their leaders.

But more to the point, fearmongering is no substitute for vision and leadership. We should not be in the business of ruling by threat of demise; we should rule by the promise of a better future. The Democrats seem to perceive many existential threats — whether from climate change, lowering taxes, appointing conservative jurists to the nation’s courts, or any other litany of gripes that fail to rise to the level of “existential,” or a threat to our existence.

Other than fearing President Trump, what are the tired Democrats offering as a path forward for the American people? The answer is simple: themselves. The field of competitors — from Biden to Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and all the others — largely are the same old programmed politicians, answering to special interests, saying whatever they need to get elected.

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Aside from Sanders, who was disgracefully hobbled by the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 primaries in favor of party insider Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Polls flash warning signs for Trump Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE, none of them is saying anything new. Their message seems stuck in the past: “Big government can solve your problems.” “American women have a right to abortions.” “We are a nation of distinct ethnic minorities who need to be shielded against the will of the majority.” “Government regulation, rather than business growth, is the engine of American prosperity.”

The problem is, these mantras have been repeated ad nauseam. The American people are tired of hearing them. Nothing gets through other than the rallying cry of “Trump is an existential threat to democracy!” It boggles the mind how someone who was elected democratically and has exercised the powers of office afforded him under the U.S. Constitution could be considered an existential threat to the very system under which he governs.

The truth is, Democrats have not found a message that resonates with the American electorate. They have not learned from their mistakes in past elections. They behave as if doing more of the same will get them further ahead, when nothing could be further from the truth. American voters have indicated they’re tired of politicians fashioned from the same mold. They want someone different, someone genuine, even if he or she appears to be rough around the edges.

It does not matter how many candidates the Democrats field for the coming presidential election. If they are all cookie-cutter versions of party elites and prophets of political correctness, none of them will prevail. President Trump may not be the perfect messenger, but it would be wise to heed the message: Americans want someone authentic, who can speak to people in a familiar language. And until the Democrats come up with a candidate who checks those boxes, they will continue to flounder like mud fish in a shrinking pond.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”