Speaking before a gathering of black leaders on Capitol Hill this week, Sen. Kamala Harris offered insight on what the Democrats plan to do to stop President Donald Trump and Republicans heading towards the 2020 election: Fight.
Energized by their success in last week’s midterms and courting voters uneasy about the nontraditional approach of the Trump administration, virtually every Democrat considering a White House run is talking about fighting in one form or another, despite the explosion of violence at the hands of liberal activists.
Some, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have taken aggressive stances that suggest a willingness to take on Trump directly.
Others, such as Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, talk about fighting for workers and espouse an aspirational vision of America.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, another potential presidential candidate, urges a higher form of politics that moves past the bitter rancor of the moment. In the process, all the possible presidential contenders are offering signs of how they would approach their candidacies.
Last week’s election showcased a variety of strategies.
On election night, Warren declared that Trump and his “corrupt friends” had spent two years “building a wall of anger and division and resentment.” In her speech, she referenced the “fight” ahead more than two dozen times.
“Tonight, as the first cracks begin to appear in that wall, let us declare that our fight is not over until we have transformed our government,” Warren said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and potential presidential candidate, spoke of an electorate that voted for the way politics can and should be.
She described a final meeting with the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona in which he pointed to a passage in his book that said, “There is nothing more liberating than fighting for a cause larger than yourself.”
“That is what Minnesota voted for today,” Klobuchar said. “Minnesota voted for patriotism, Minnesota voted for tolerance, Minnesota voted for people who believe in opportunity.”
In a victory speech in Ohio, where Brown notched an easy win even as other Democrats
“When we fight for workers, we fight for all people, whether they punch a clock or swipe a badge, earn a salary or make tips. Whether they are raising children or caring for an aging parent,” he said.
Later, Brown urged the nation to look to the Midwest, and particularly Ohio, and to take note of how his state celebrates workers.
“That is the message coming out of Ohio in 2018, and that is the blueprint for our nation in 2020,” he said.
Diane Feldman, a pollster for Brown’s 2018 race, said Brown tends to talk “about who he’s for, rather than who he’s against.”
“There’s going to be a discussion about whether the Democratic Party defines itself in opposition to Trump or whether the Democratic Party really has something to assert about who we’re for or what we’re for and what that means,” Feldman said. “While we’re all against Trump, we also need to be clear on what we would change in ways that would be helpful to people.”
Perhaps no one in the potential field has demonstrated the impulse to fight than Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels and a vocal Trump critic. Avenatti, who has said he is considering a 2020 run, said in his first early state speech as a potential political candidate that Democrats “must be a party that fights fire with fire.”
Avenatti was arrested this week in Los Angeles for allegedly committing domestic violence. Avenatti, who once said that America must “believe all women” called her accuser, a woman, a liar.