All but two Democratic presidential candidates should drop out now

Imagine a hurricane is hurtling toward your house — but instead of deciding on your evacuation plan, you stay in your house and argue with your spouse about how to make a nutritious meal for dinner.

That, in a nutshell, is the Democratic primary. In debate after debate, town hall after town hall, interview after interview, we see the democrats treating this contest like a normal primary election.

While Democrats squabble over what to make for dinner, a hurricane is about to hit their house.  

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Normally, it would be appropriate, and almost welcome, for the Democrats to fight, squabble and critique each other. Voters need to see how candidates behave, what their policy positions are, and how they are different from their opponents, both in substance and in temperament.

But these are not normal times. And as much as the Democratic candidates claim they care most about the “existential threat” posed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE and the very real possibility that he wins a second term, it almost always just feels like they are paying lip service to this idea. The Democrats do not appear to be running against Trump any differently than they would against any incumbent Republican president.

And that’s the problem: Trump is not just any incumbent Republican president. He is qualitatively different. He is the hurricane.

Trump has shown a basic disregard for the Constitutionthe rule of law, the separation of powersCongress’ oversight authority, the respect owed to the judicial branch, and on and on. Trump has very likely acted to obstruct justice.

He is also temperamentally, and perhaps psychologically, unfit to be the leader of a local school district, let alone the free world. He harbors views that are discriminatory and misogynistic.      

While Democrats hurl insults at each other over their healthcare plans, and fight over the best way to ensure that people obtain medical insurance, Trump has tried to halt the ability of those obtaining medical care to avoid deportation.

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While Democrats quarrel over who has the best plan to improve our public school systems, Trump is creating a humanitarian crisis by reducing the number of people who can seek asylum.   

While Democrats argue over who is too old, too young or too forgetful, Trump may be tweeting classified information.

Democrats are playing politics like the main difference between the two parties is how to achieve a group of shared goals.

The best way to lose the 2020 election is to act like it is any other election. While Democrats bloody each other up in an intraparty prize fight, Trump is tearing our system of government apart at the seams.

Democrats must change their behavior, and fast. This does not mean pumping up the anti-Trump rhetoric. Those are just words. This means taking real action.

The best option would be for Democrats to unite behind a ticket. Democrats could spare the voters and the country a drawn-out primary battle that gives Trump a roadmap for how best to beat the nominee. Democrats could do what they say Republicans must: Put country over party. But of course, this means that all but two Democrat candidates and their egos and drive to win must take a back seat. History indicates this is an unlikely route.   

The second option would be for Democrats to make a pact — a real pact, not a fake political pact no one intends to honor — to stop the attacks on each other. They could point out policy differences without tearing each other down. They could unite around the message that the first, second and third goal of the election is to beat Trump. This is a rare occasion in which politicians could argue the truth — all of their other differences are relatively inconsequential.  

The old paradigms do not hold. Our country is in the fight of its life, and Democrats are arranging the proverbial deck chairs on the Titanic. It is well-past time to unite behind a candidate and a message.

Jessica A. Levinson is a professor and director of the Loyola Public Service Institute at LMU Loyola Law School (@LoyolaLawSchool). Follow her on Twitter @LevinsonJessica