Some good advice for Democrats to ignore in 2020

Some good advice for Democrats to ignore in 2020
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Memo to Democrats: The next time a professed “moderate” or “disaffected” Republican offers you advice on how to beat Trump in 2020, ignore them. 

Somehow, the “never Trumper” became deified in this political environment. Cable news networks are fascinated with those Republicans who are purported to be embarrassed or repulsed by 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 but are reticent to support a Democrat because they are too far to the left on issues like health care or tax reform or god forbid, reparations. 

We see this played out in former Republican members of Congress and high-profile mainstream Republicans who were pushed out of Trump’s Republican party and now flood cable news every day. 

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Only to be topped by focus groups of random middle America voters — usually from Dayton, Scranton or Orlando — who start off by expressing their discomfort with Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office but end up on Benghazi or socialism or something in between. Following their logic, Donald Trump offends them and is unfit for office in their view but not enough to team up with the “libs.” 

Let me reverse it for you. Kanye WestKanye Omari WestA$AP Rocky found guilty of assault, gets no prison time Lana Del Rey records new song in response to mass shootings Trump tells rapper A$AP Rocky to 'get home ASAP' after release in Sweden MORE becomes the standard bearer of the Democratic Party but many “Never Kanye” Democrats are hesitant to vote for the Republican alternative — say Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseBipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lauds tariffs on China while backtracking from more To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies MORE (R-Neb.) — because of his regulatory policy or because he wants to spend too much on the military. You see what I mean? Sounds ridiculous, right? 

At the first Democratic debates last week, we saw robust discussion and some clear contrasts about what direction the respective leading Democrats would push the party towards. Some right up the middle, some left of center, some mainstream left and some far left. This what primaries are for. To have messy discussions and inter-party disagreement hashed out and road tested to voters. 

There’s a real difference of opinion within the Democratic Party on how to fix health care. Some Democrats want to keep and strengthen ObamaCare, some want a public option, some want to eliminate private insurance all together. This primary over the next 10-12 months will allow a full vetting of those disagreements. No Democrat should feel self-conscious about how sharps contrasts on this issue will make us look to Republicans who might bless us with a vote next year. Many of the same Republicans, by the way, who almost came this close and very nearly voted for 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 until James ComeyJames Brien Comey3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Barr predicts progressive prosecutors will lead to 'more crime, more victims' James Comey shows our criminal justice system works as intended MORE said that thing about emails. 

Even more absurd is the premise that these right of center Republicans should be the expert on how to beat Donald Trump. The reason why Donald Trump exists as the leader of the Republican Party today is to because weak moderates cow-towed to the extreme base of their party for the last two decades. Republicans are responsible for Trumpism, not progressives. Why would any Democrat listen to a vanquished Republican who could not keep the center of their own party intact about how to manage our party? 

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Noted NY Times conservative columnists Bret Stephens used one of his latest pieces to rake Democrats over the coals for having the audacity to talk and think like progressives at the debates last week. His column read in part:

“Throughout the debates, I kept wondering if any of the leading candidates would speak to Americans beyond the Democratic base.”

No Bret, a Democratic primary is for Democrats. Also, have you ever asked that question of Donald Trump? Or Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE, for that matter? 

In the time since his column, Donald Trump joked with Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Trump, France's Macron discuss G-7 ahead of annual meeting Romney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' MORE about getting rid of journalists, bromanced it up with Mohammed bin Salman and, on a whim, took an unplanned meeting with Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnRomney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' Pompeo expresses concern over North Korea missile tests State Dept. extends travel ban to North Korea MORE in the Demilitarized Zone during executive time. But some Democrats want to eliminate college debt and take action to stop putting children in cages at the border; so Republicans like Stephens feel empowered to look the other way on Trump’s daily degradation of the presidency. 

By the way, the entire premise here is off base. Democrats have a larger base of voters nationally than Republicans. Donald Trump was the third choice for President of most Americans coming up behind those who chose not to vote and those who voted for Hillary Clinton. And Democrats are working with somewhat of a surplus of popular support — not just from 2016 but also the midterms in 2018. 

Democrats absolutely must be smart and strategic in organizing and prioritizing in the lead up to Election Day and make strategic investments in key battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, where the president is already deeply unpopular. Democrats have plenty to get in order, but low on our list should be coddling Republicans who have no home in their own party. 

I know I speak for a lot of Democrats when I say that we would love to have as many of the disaffected, exiled Republicans as possible support a Democrat in 2020. But that is not the purpose of a primary nor should it be the focus of Democrats through this process. Those Republicans are welcome to come to dinner, but they cannot dictate what’s on the menu — at least not in my house. 

Joel Payne is a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again MORE (D-Nev.) and a former senior aide to the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign. He regularly appears on television and radio as a political commentator.