Democrats cannot beat Donald Trump unless they simply unify

Democrats cannot beat Donald Trump unless they simply unify
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Last week, 20 candidates went head to head for the second round of Democratic primary debates. While there were marginal winners and losers of each night, the only substantive loser was the entire Democratic Party. The debates were an overt display of party disunity and chaos, and paint a grim picture for its chances in 2020. Ultimately, for the Democrats to beat President Trump next November, they must now do two things.

First, and foremost, the party must unite with itself. Throughout both nights of the debate, there was rarely any display of party unity or clear agreement. The candidates focused more on attacking each other than Donald Trump or the Republican Party, particularly on health care. On Tuesday, progressive front runners Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersHow can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? Biden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states Buttigieg campaign says 2000 people attended Iowa rally MORE forcefully defended their “Medicare for all” proposals against moderate candidates who favor an incremental “Medicare for all who want it” plan that allows Americans to keep private health insurance if they desire.

On Wednesday, Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Buttigieg 'doesn't have significant black support even in his own city' Biden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE sparred with progressives like Kamala Harris on health care. Biden, the current front runner, defended his plan to enhance ObamaCare, saying that all the “Medicare for all” plans, such as the plan proposed by Harris, would cost trillions of dollars and give Americans less choice. “There is no talk about the fact” that the proposal by Harris in “will cost $3 trillion” in a decade, Biden noted. “You will lose your employer based insurance. In fact, you know, this is the single most important issue facing the public. To be very blunt and to be very straightforward, you cannot beat President Trump with doubletalk on this plan,” he declared.

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While health care is just one area where moderates and progressives clashed, the divide within the party was unambiguous. Probably the clearest display of disunity within the party were the frequent attacks on President Obama and his legacy. While many of these attacks were intended as jabs at Biden, the fact that so many progressive candidates were so quick to denounce Obama, who left office as a popular president especially among Democrats, is telling of the drastic divide, which poses a grave danger for whoever emerges as the party presidential nominee. Unless Democrats can unite and set aside their differences, they will face extraordinary difficulties defeating Trump for the White House next year.

Second, the Democratic party needs to unite around a center left growth agenda that can appeal to independent voters and Midwestern voters in swing states that Trump won in 2016, but that Obama won in 2008 and 2012, such as Michigan. Indeed, far left policies such as “Medicare for all” and decriminalizing border crossings are not favored by the majority of the American electorate, especially the independent and swing voters.

The fact that a near majority of Democratic candidates believe crossing the border illegally should not be a crime is indicative of how far left the party has moved, not just from where it once was, but also from the vast majority of voters. According to a Marist poll, 66 percent of Americans oppose decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, as 87 percent of Republicans opposed and 47 percent of Democrats opposed. This will certainly carry substantive weight as Democrats move forward on the campaign trail. According to a Gallup poll, 23 percent of Americans believe immigration is the most important problem facing the country.

The stakes for an election have never been higher. If Democrats have any chance of beating Trump, they must unify as one party around a center left growth agenda and put an end to this feud of progressives versus pragmatists. If they are unable to, they will not only lose the election, but they will also lose whatever is left of the soul of the Democratic Party.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”