How Trump Won Re-election in 2020

A sneak peek at the Times’s news analysis from Nov. 4, 2020.

Comments: 270

  1. The American Republic as we know it began in 1789, some 229 years ago. It was a good run. The office held by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, Reagan, GHW Bush and Obama is now held by Donald Trump. If this comes to pass, the Republic is finished. As is the West. We were, for all our flaws, the anchor of values in the postwar world. We've traded that in for a con man who cannot tell the truth and who does not even know what the truth is and does not care.

  2. @Matt I don't think the republic is going to disintegrate because of just 77,000 votes over 3 states. The electorate has seen what the devastation looks likes and the political pendulum is going to swing back.(quite a lot) Keep the faith and vote.

  3. @Matt I share your pessimism for America, but not for humanity. Specifically, as evil cannot be destroyed, neither can goodness. America may well self-destruct, but we don't have a lock and key on all that is good. In fact, I would argue that evil cannot long stand. It collapses of its own rotten dead weight; furthermore, it can't exist without a host to feed on. The world will always possess a number of George Washingtons and Thomas Jeffersons.

  4. @Matt are you thinking of the French Revolution? We began in 1776.

  5. Brett as a moderate republican ,I abhor trump. I was hoping for Jeb and Kasich . This make believe story is too upsetting to imagine. I voted but 3rd party. If We had been smart we would have voted for HC.the lesser of two evils. Stop depressing us !

  6. @Nurse Jacki you voted 3rd party. That says it all. I don't quite understand what people who made that choice thought would happen.

  7. @Nurse Jacki Thank you for admitting that voting for a 3rd party was a mistake. We all knew who Donald Trump was, and he has turned out to be worse. Anyone who voted for Trump, for a third party or didn't vote is partially responsible for this debacle. I hope more people wise up.

  8. @Nurse Jacki If there is one big lesson to take away from 2016 is ALWAYS vote for the lesser of two evils. The greater of the two should be reason enough.

  9. I’m not sure hat is more alarming and depressing about the comments on this column: that so many treat it as a prediction rather than a cautionary tale, or that many others dispute its likelihood and cling to happier dreams. As a committed Liberal and Democrat, I find it a trenchant, important, and more than plausible warning. (Indeed chilling in its believability.) Let us all hope, it doesn’t play out that way and do what we can to prevent it.

  10. @Cormac Read it again. What this is, in essence, is an endorsement of Republican fiscal policy. Bret Stephens has been telling us for months how awful Trump is personally. His "cautionary tale" is grounded in the belief that Trump's innumerable flaws won't matter because the good economic times will continue to roll thanks to the GOP, and thanks what Stephens sees as a Democratic obsession with "identity politics." If you want to jump on board with that assessment, feel free. I see things differently.

  11. @Cormac We're going to be going nowhere fast with the likes of Schumer and Pelosi in leadership positions. Like others have said, we need to stop bringing knives to a gun fight.

  12. "Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of the things that may be only." Maybe The Donald will be visited by some ghosts

  13. Just last night my sister told me a conversation she had with our mother. As someone who gets their news exclusively from Fox News, and as a Trump supporter I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. My mother was noting how everyone was driving new cars, how employment was low - just how great the economy is doing - clearly giving Trump credit. It was her way of saying it was worth it to vote for Trump. This from a woman who raised us as environmentalists, and as a forward looking progressive. Her worldview obviously changed radically when she remarried & so did the source of her news. I bet she doesn't even know about children in cages, the assault on the environment or how we're the laughingstock of the world . . .

  14. @Patricia It is sad, Fox is doing such a disservice to our nation with their Faux News. If you could get her to watch PBS with Fair & Balanced reporting - Judy Woodward 7:00 News Hour - highly recommend. My 98 year old Father was a Republican all his life, but he voted for Obama and he voted for Hillary because the GOP was no longer the GOP.

  15. @Patricia I think bully of the world is even more appropriate than laughingstock.

  16. With all due respect to your mother (no doubt of similar age to my own parents/IL's), this kind of 180 turn is all to common among their generation. I see it in my own family and it turns my stomach.

  17. And China might be a new leader of the world.

  18. @Myung hyun Jung China was the leader of the world during most of history. The downfall of the Qing Dynasty was the exception to the rule. The Yuan in particular had a substantially larger economy and military reach than Europe at the time.

  19. @Myung hyun Jung Yes, except replace "might" with "will".

  20. @Myung hyun Jung It already is.

  21. And therein lies one of many problems. Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida picking the occupant of the White House. A minority telling the majority what will or will not happen. Another electoral college debacle despite the popular vote. Parts of the country interested in moving forward in the 21st century will grow tired of such a state of affairs and begin to go their own way. The country will not withstand another 4 years of Trump. What do you say Mr. Stephens? What will your column look like in 6 years?

  22. @Lucien Dhooge Any election anywhere will have pivotal states/regions that are the "swing states," just like the congress has swing voters - unfortunately for us he is often the Wacko Rand Paul.

  23. @Lucien Dhooge Take a look at Trump's polling numbers in these states. I think you will find this column to be foolish in it's predictions.

  24. @Lucien Dhooge... Here's a point to remember, Mr Dhooge. We are a constitutional, democratic republic, not a democracy. Our name is the United STATES of America, not The Peoples' Republic. Time for you to go back and reread our Constitution very carefully. And please read it for what it says, not what you think it says.

  25. Oh believe you me, if we run Warren or Sanders or Kamalla Harris, we may as well not even have an election. Trump will crush them. And the loony wing of my beloved Democratic Party will still have not learned a thing.

  26. @Mike I agree with you regarding Warren and Sanders. But given a chance for the nation to get to know Kamala Harris's story, I think she can be a formidable candidate.

  27. @Mike AGREE . . . we shouldn't run candidates who make us feel righteous. We need to run candidates who can win, and save our country.

  28. @garye3 I agree on Harris. She'll need a progressive running mate, though. It's hard for me to imagine Warren leading a ticket but there's no predicting who'll resonate with the voters during the primaries & what the over-arching theme will be.

  29. Democrats wasted a lot of ammo on the Mueller investigation? Mueller was appointed by Rod Rosenstein, the Assistant Attorney General in the Trump Administration. Mueller himself is a lifelong Republican. I know perception becomes reality, but pinning Mueller on Democrats is just plain wrong. I have no idea what Mueller's investigation will conclude, but I steadfastly refuse to accept the narrative - real or conjecture - that it was a Democratic witch hunt. I hope my fellow citizens will join me.

  30. @Greenfish - I share your hope,your opinion, and your view that "perception becomes reality" - thus the probe will likely be seen as Democratic-leaning.

  31. @Greenfish - Did you note that in this imagining, it is the Trump supporter who makes that statement, not Mr. Stephens. To the Trump supporter it is a Democrat witch hunt, notwithstanding the facts.

  32. @Greenfish - the point is that Democrats' entire mentality is invested in the obvious hope that the investigation will return a truly earthshaking condemnation of Trump. Even if some are finally starting to soft-pedal it ("I don't know what the conclusion will be [oh really, you don't?] but I want to see it carried through"), it will sap the resistance and charge Trump's loyalists when anything less than the uncut p-tape comes out. Very bad strategy.

  33. shudder...

  34. A part of me died reading this...

  35. @Esteban exactly exactly what I felt. I'm wondering whether Mr. Stephens had just invested in some Pfizer shares and wanted to boost Zoloft sales.

  36. @Esteban What a ridiculous, defeatist comment. There are many other scenarios that could have been written, and we are not powerless if we keep up the struggle.

  37. @Esteban Me, too. And I read it right after I saw the "new" 2016 election results map that the Times published today - it was awash in red (despite the popular vote going to HRC).

  38. The fact that so many NYTimes commenters can't- even remotely- see some truth in this is telling.

  39. @profwilliams Oh I can see ALL KINDS of truth in it. What I can't see is what to do about it.

  40. @profwilliams Pretty much any time any NYT Op-Ed tries to explain to Dems what they are doing wrong, they just start grumbling about false equivalencies and reciting part of the laundry list of reasons Trump is terrible (because the fact that one person-- or party-- is terrible automatically means all others are perfect, of course).

  41. You've forgotten one important thing Bret, the wisdom of the American voter. Oh wait, on second thought............

  42. I'm going to start house-hunting in Canada today.

  43. Good idea! We better get started now and beat the rush.

  44. @Kathy McAdam Hahn You should first claim refugee status by crossing on foot at Roxham Road in Quebec or you will be hit with extra non-resident transaction fees. Glad to help.

  45. @Kathy McAdam Hahn Sorry, but the nuclear fallout will likely drift northward, just like the acid rain of decades past. Therefore, go far west and north -- Northern British Columbia or Northern Alberta, or even the Yukon Territory or Northwest Territories. You might just survive. However, that would be problematic after Trump gives Putin back Alaska. My mother was born in BC along the inland water route to Alaska in a logging town. Wish we had a house up there -- not much going on, no roads in, but that is good!

  46. I dunno. Elizabeth Warren is a spunky candidate, super deft and as good as Trump with the pithy punches. Her message is focused on the economy and far from identity politics. It would be hard to diminish it with cracks about gender neutral bathrooms. The Pocahontas thing is weak to begin with and getting very old. Pair all that with a young and energetic progressive and a good ground game in PA and FL and it’s a win.

  47. Not sure independents and white working class from the midwest states will vote for such a lefty woman.

  48. @GC That is how Trump got elected.

  49. @GC...Over the long term, Warren's shrillness and unworkable concepts wear thin... And they are just as susceptible to sloth and corruption as any other concept that one tries to implement. Successful change is done incrementally, not by fiat, not by party-line votes. It is accomplished with all parties having a consent-based interest in what is going on. Good governance requires consensus, not fiat.

  50. I wouldn’t be so certain about the Acid.

  51. "What part of DOW 30000 and you and yours aren't getting any of it don't you understand?" Mr. Stephens doesn't seem to understand that a DOW 30000 without wage growth and with higher consumer prices will be insurmountable evidence that the economy is indeed "rigged" for corporations and the filthy rich. Democrats fail only if they fear to drive this point home with candidates less prepared to do so than Warren and Brown. Unfortunately, Democrats being afraid to be Democrats and columns like this stoking those fears are old news, a well-worn path to electoral defeat.

  52. @RRI. This is not necessarily Bret's position; how often do we hear precisely that claim (ie, the Dow is up since Nov 2016) offered as proof that Trump's "policies" (if that incoherent jumble can be dignified with the word "policy") are working? Based on his other articles and his background, he knows very well that there is a disconnect between what happens on Wall Street and the real economy.

  53. @RRI I don't disagree that a DOW of 30,000 unsupported by wage growth and other important factors lacks a solid foundation. Personally, I can't imagine getting to 2020 without the bubble popping. That's beside the point, though. The author is saying that the Democratic message amounts to nothing more than opposition. Even if we got to 2020 with a Dow at 30,000, the American public can't be sold on the complexities of a Dow unsupported by solid fundamentals--at least not the ones who aren't already inclined to vote Democratic. The 30,000 Dow is a device for illustrating the point that the Democrats don't have anything to talk about that reaches the right people in the right places. From an Electoral College standpoint, the Republicans get just as much clout from capturing 50.1% of the vote in Pennsylvania as the Democrats would from capturing 75% of the vote in Illinois. The Democrats may own the cities, but they have to do a better job of convincing an additional 10% of the non-urban population across the country that the Democratic platform is about more than promoting gay rights, minority equality, and free stuff.

  54. @RRICorrect! And the flaw in Stephens's column is the things you describe is what Trump ran on in 2016. A smart Democrat could easily take Trump's incalculable flip flops and paint him as "Hillary Clinton" in 2020.

  55. We Democrats need to set aside the snarky comments and realize that the author is trying to tell us to get our act together. Yes, he is a conservative. But he has been steadfast in his opposition to Trump and clearly would love to see Trumpism banished forever. Yes, to be replaced by a "normal" Republican but in these perilous times he should be viewed as an ally in the overarching goal of getting rid of Trump. Moreover, as a lifelong Democrat even I am not totally sure what the Party stands for on certain issues. A good example is the border. We have been accused of wanting "open borders". An obvious lie, but what should we do with people from Central America or Mexico that cross the border illegally? All I hear is "abolish ICE" and that is not a winning message. Clearly we are not going to convince the 35% - 40% of the electorate whose emotional ties to Trump cannot be broken. But that leaves a lot of folks who can be convinced with a positive, center left message focusing on health care, progressive taxation, a foreign policy that respects our allies and curbs China's excesses, and an overall compassionate government. It is no longer necessary to demonize Trump (his mendacity and incompetence are there for all to see). But it is incredibly necessary to provide a workable alternative and not just sloganeering and outrage.

  56. @Terry How's this for a workable alternative: Free everything for everybody forever. That should work for both Democrats and Republicans.

  57. @TerryWrong. He wants to use Democrats as a stalking horse to replace the Party of Trump with the Party of Reagan. Same as George Will, Steve Schmidt, Joe Scarborough, Max Boot and all the other lifelong Republicans and neocons who are "born again" faux Democratic. When I see these guys actively working to help elect Democrats beyond merely their current platforms of merely bad nouthing Trump, then I will accept they are sincere.

  58. @Terry Frankly, I'm not sure Stephens really DOES want us to "get our act together". He may not even be consciously aware of it himself, but I think the real reason he wrote this is because the situation is hopeless, pure and simple. But I guess you'd have to ask him that.

  59. Crises can be opportunities for change, and in the case of the democratic party it's about darned time. One reason, and there are many reasons, that we have lost elections is because we ran candidates who gave us so little to vote for. As a 66 year old woman I remember the marches for the ERA, the struggles for civil rights, the burgeoning of global warming concerns, and feeling proud of this country of immigrants. While I have consistently voted no matter what, it wasn't until the Women's March after trump's election, the galvanization of young people after Parkland, and the unexpected election of more progressive candidates, that I began feeling that there might be something worth voting for again. Record stock market? Low unemployment? It's about time we all realized that while it might be the economy stupid, it isn't only the economy stupid. We are facing rising numbers of people without health insurance, increasing global warming, greater food insecurity and countless other problems. Morally we are bankrupt; removing children from parents at the border with no plan for reunification, allowing lies to replace truth in the minds of too many, increasing racism and sexism, increasing homelessness and so on. Frankly, if Mr. Stephen's dystopic column proves true, I would rather go down fighting as opposed to knowing that people didn't vote because there was nothing to vote for, only a buffoon to vote against.

  60. @Barbara, I'd vote for you! Well-said.

  61. Dear Democrats: the reality is that outside urban precincts, the country is just not that into you.

  62. @EGD Then again, those urban precincts make up the majority of the populace. And even though it has taken some bad blows recently, our country is still a democratic republic which means the majority is intended to rule but without trampling the rights of the minority. So, even though the minority isn't enthralled with the majority, it matters far more than it should.

  63. @EGDn Yup. Rural decides, aka tyranny of the minority.

  64. @EGD So what you're saying is that 20% of the population's opinion is all that really matters. What would you say if the 80% decided they no longer really cared what YOU think? Be careful gloating over much when you're holding a tenuous margin. Ever wonder what happens to the brutal minority once they find themselves out of power?

  65. When I first read Mr. Stephens'article I said to myself that we moderate Independents and Democrats should just throw in the towel. But I read it again and thought to myself, this guy is telling me something and I best listen. In watching PBS Newshour last night Ms. Woodruff had three people on discussing Trump and his lies, attempt to muffle the news media etc., etc. But what caught my interest they all agreed that people are commencing to get tired of Trump and his various acts to demonize people, places, and things. But more importantly his lying! What I take from Bret Stephens' most interesting article are the need for a change in leadership and a move to youth by the Democrats, but most importantly to get the vote out to defeat Trump.

  66. @Not an Aikenite And its even more than his lack of character, sleaze and constant lying that is at issue. The actual policies and appointments made by Trump and his supine GOP will drastically hurt the economic future of Americans, especlally those people who voted for most ardently for him and who have become his dedicated acolytes. Harder and harder to believe that a vile mixture of theocracy, elitist, plutocratic economics and harm to the ability to procure health care and education for average Americans can be seen as a sterling achievement!

  67. @Not an Aikenite The PBS Newhour is now such a grotesque caricature of its former self that I no longer trust it and can no longer bear to watch it. Things were never like this when Jim Leherer was in charge. The program used to be well balanced: whenever a controversial topic was debated, smart, competent people with opposing views were invited to debate. A major effort was made to ensure that many points of view were included. Sloppy thinking and inaccuracies were challenged. Not anymore. The program now almost always favors one point of view (liberal, Democratic) to the exclusion of others. In the past, after the news summary, two or three topics were reported and debated in depth. At the conclusion, one had a decent understanding of the major points and their relative merits. No longer: Now topics are stretched out over 2,3, or 4 programs, each program scratches the surface of too many topics, and focus is lost. There are now far too many “fill in” puff pieces: “Brief but spectacular”, book discussions/promotions, social issues in other countries not relevant to America, etc. Important news, especially in the business sector (e.g. why General Electric is tanking), goes unreported. The daily obsession with bashing all things Trump, no matter how trivial, further inures us to his antics and makes it difficult to tell when he really screws up. Other important stories do not get the reporting they deserve. The PBS NewsHour needs a new executive editor.

  68. @Not an Aikenite: It seems you have overlooked the frightful conclusion by conservative pundit Peter Wehner who unequivocally stated on that PBS segment last night, that Trump, for his own personal benefit, is purposely destroying (usurping, undermining, impugning - you name it) the objective truth and how that is THE threat to our democracy. Without agreement on what is true, what is factual, all is lost; democracy cannot persist. Boiled away to its essence, Trump is the threat to our democracy and we need to do something about it. November seems like a very good time to start the process.

  69. As an "outsider" reading this article made me realise that it could come to pass and another four years of the White house child is a distinct possibility. The Democrats need to do two things; get some new younger faces on the screen, they must exist but traditional thinking is ruling the Dems world. Next tip; stop attacking the incumbent. We all know his numerous faults. Now, set out an achievable election vision that is realistic, achievable and that focuses on what all want. Health care, job security, end of foreign wars decimating the youth, steady,realistically rewarded jobs and retraining for the new economy. An immigration policy that favours those who have the skills your country needs; a non racial discrimination policy for the police force, a gun control licencing policy that is welcomed by thinking folk. Now add your own list of achievable aims and outcomes and set an information campaign in place asap. No internal squabbles either, wash the dirty linen in private, not in public. Success will be yours. Good luck Dems, you can do it!

  70. @William Gould "Next tip; stop attacking the incumbent." Funny because all Trump did was attack when he was running. He attacked his Republican opponents, he attacked Hillary, he attacked Obama, he attacked the Democrats, he attacked a disabled journalist, he attacked a Gold Star US veteran, he attacked pretty much everyone he didn't like, respect or was vulnerable. One person he did not attack was Putin. I think Democrats are too soft. We need to attack and hard. And keep attacking. The loudest voices get heard. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

  71. @William Gould Very well said! You actually managed to get me excited about the 2020 election, instead of just terrified of failure and defeat. Now, we just need to get you a direct line to the DNC and we'd be good!

  72. @William Gould There's only one problem with your platform. The American people don't want it. Just about anybody would have beaten Hillary Clinton.

  73. Mr. Stephens, Anerica’s presidential race is among the world’s longest political campaigns and should be curtailed in length. Why are we even projecting in gest about 2020 when each day that passes brings us more and more outrages in the Trump presidency that will surely have future shocking repercussions we can never imagine? This column made me more depressed than I already am. Please keep your satire to 2018.

  74. @Helen Why should it be curtailed. People have the right to run for president as far ahead as they like. And it's an important decision why would you rush it?

  75. @Helen I think it's because Mr. Stephens is doing his best to 1) project his desire for a divisive and hateful human being to continue wielding power in the future. It in my opinion is subtly structured to engender fear in those who are hoping that that won't happen

  76. @Helen This article added nothing to anyone's day. what is the point of writing articles that normalize trump supporters "feelings"? Do you really not understand that our values as a nation ARE more important than the economy?

  77. Bret Stephens ought to take a sneak peek at other coverage in his newspaper. "Troubles for Ford, G.M. and Fiat Chrysler (brought on by tariffs) Send Shares Diving" "Trump Tax Cut Is Pushing the Federal Deficit to $1 Trillion" "White House Bars CNN Reporter From Presidential Event" "Mr. Pompeo acknowledged that North Korea is continuing to produce nuclear fuel for its weapons program" "Judge Allows Suit on Conflict of Interest Over Trump Hotels" "Michael Cohen Releases Tape of Trump Discussing Hush Money for Playboy Model" "DeVos Proposes to Curtail Debt Relief for Defrauded Students" "Where Migrant Children Are Being Held Across the U.S." Each of these issues--and more, such as health care--will be on-going and will further motivate an already energized constituency that wants to see this president gone. And if Mr. Stephens wants to place a wager on where the Dow will be in 2 1/2 years, I'm sure there are plenty of brokers willing to take that bet.

  78. I would suggest sourcing your news from multiple places. I personally read, NPR, BBC, The Economist, The Atlantic, and The National Review. None are as negatively targeted at The Trump Administration as The New York Times. Don't get caught in a bubble.

  79. @NA All true; and yet it seems that Trump's non-stick surface continues to serve him well. These headlines may crash down on him but his base, blinded by a fealty I cannot fathom, will stick with him.

  80. @NA Excellent! Let me add: Deutche Bank Money Laundering Charges by EBA, Egypt Israeli Crisis Escalates Post Palestinian Expulsions, Iran and Russia Finalize Non-Agression Pact, Brexit Proponents Aressted, China Floods Markets with US Debt, Trump Tariffs Aftermath: Widespread Foreclosures, Oil Prices Break $120/Bbl.

  81. Think this can't happen? I do not see one Democratic presidential aspirant who can beat Trump. Biden, too old Everyone else, Northeast or California, and to the left of Obama. On the Chris Hayes last night, the commentator guests were saying that the key to victory in Georgia for Stacey Abrams was not appealing to moderate voters, but turning out her base. Look, I was wrong 50 times about Trump in 2016, but this is a right-of-center country. Appealing to the base gets you Republicans controlling the Presidency, both houses of Congress, and most state governments. A Sanders or Warren nominee would be a disaster.

  82. @Richard ''but this is a right-of-center country.'' No, it is actually quite a Progressive country bordering on Socialist. Poll any Progressive policy (any one ) and it is wildly popular and clearly in the majority. ( some in the 80' and 90's) Having said that, the only way republicans ever win elections are when the electorate selfishly votes for a tax cut and decides that all other costs are worth it. ( they actually cost more and in particular cost THEM more) The other variables are of course the Supreme Court and culture wars wedge issues. (like Roe) There is of course voting for tribe and against ''other'', Gerrymandering and poll taxes certainly help too, However, as true Progressive candidates and policies are put forward (not republican lite) the electorate is waking up and voting in large majorities. (the proof is there) Watch and see.

  83. @Richard, I don’t think this is a right of center country, the popular vote of 2016 being one example, but we are in agreement that the Democratic Party isn’t offering much as an alternative. One example: The Democratic Party won’t stand up and campaign on socialized medicine, which a clear majority of the population wants. They will fail in 2020 because they are too far right of center, not too far left.

  84. @Richard It is a moderate country, which is why moderate democratic gubernatorial are doing well and progressive candidates are not. Someone in the Democratic Party gets it.

  85. This is chilling. But yes, Pelosi has to go. There must be younger Congress members who would be good. We just never hear about them.

  86. @zipfel - A mid-western or mountain-region Democrat should be speaker this go-around. Pelosi is a great campaign money maker, but a lightening rod for the Fox News and AM radio squawking. Easily demonized but ironically representing a vibrant economy and state. It's jealously really.

  87. Primarily because the right has made Pelosi a boogeyman. Boogeyperson? She's actually highly effective, which is why the right would like to be rid of her. I read about the younger members of Congress every day, in this newspaper and others. I also follow them on Facebook. You might have to invest a little time in informing yourself.

  88. Interesting bit of fiction, that I (A staunch Liberal) will be the first to admit, that it is actually plausible and could turn into reality. ( I even tend to agree about the Democratic candidates) However, I most definitely think that the Mueller inquiries are going to come up with some quite damaging revelations, while at the same time, I do not think there will be 67 Senators to convict. (even with Democrats in control of both houses) I think that the Dow will not be anywhere near 30,000 and that the Deficits (over a TRILLION per year) will indeed catch up to the economy. (as will the devastating taxes/tariffs republicans are imposing on businesses. - especially their own base) There will not be enough economic little fixes to plug the hemorrhaging of jobs that are already beginning to show up in the employment numbers. The gap between the rich and the middle class/poor is only going to get deeper and really stress upon social payments. (that are being cut) The numbers will not be able to paper over these facts. The wild card is going to be the Supreme Court. At any time if the highest court rules that Roe vs. Wade is unconstitutional, then it is game over for republicans. The backlash will be massive (even more than the one coming this November) Republican women will be crossing over in droves. They probably will not be telling their partners. ( I don't blame them) All of the above is predicated on the status quo staying such. but the populace is now woke.

  89. @FunkyIrishman: I pretty much agree with all you say here, but I think there's another, more likely outcome. A major crisis, engineered by team Trump, will "necessitate" the postponement or cancelation of elections, and possibly be an excuse for imposing martial law. Then the backlash won't be at the polls but in the streets. Sounds far fetched? It can't happen here? Look at the aggregate sum of protocol breaches, code violations and serious crimes committed by DJT and his cohort. It already has happened.

  90. @Eric Aye, it can happen. I don't doubt it, however I think there are just enough key people in the hierarchy, government, civil service and military that will not follow orders (call it a reverse coup) if it comes down to it. I am not naive about it, but I just don't think it can happen. Of course we must remain vigilant and vote.

  91. @FunkyIrishman It is much more likely that the Supreme Court will retain Roe v Wade as settled law, but allow states unfettered authority to regulate abortion provision to the point where it is effectively banned in some states. This may make abortion an important issue in some states, but will neuter the issue at the federal level.

  92. This reminds me of how conservatives were writing pieces years before the 2008 election predicting (with horror) that Hillary Clinton would easily win the primaries and the general election. Obama wasn't even on the radar. Right now, the way things are in the news cycle, we can't even predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone in 2020.

  93. "The president correctly predicted his win, and was clearly delighted. He was interviewed from the new Western White House, located at the Mustang Ranch in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had spent the last weeks of the campaign, um.., polling the electorate. "News of his victory took some time to register, now that newspapers have all but vanished, and most Americans can no longer afford telephones, the Internet or cable TV in the newly-unregulated markets. :Foreign leaders were quick not to react in the slightest, since the United States is no longer a factor in world politics. When asked about the president’s victory, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “Was there an election?” "Vladimir Putin, who had been serving as interim vice president since the ouster of Mike Pence, was also officially sworn in. He showed little emotion, but the president looked at him lovingly, while the hookers were clearly miffed as they imagined their loss of income. "Reporters tried to reach Hillary Clinton for comment, but were refused access by the warden. "The immediate task at hand for the president is to see if the devastating floods along the East coast can be used to extinguish the forest fires that have destroyed most of California. Children of illegal immigrants who were never reunited with their parents will be pressed into service. God bless America."

  94. @gemli I nonetheless maintain that the Eastern floodwaters should somehow be gotten to the perennial burning West. Pipelines? Canals? Trucks? Redirecting rivers? Legalized outside urination in state parks?

  95. @gemli Polling or poling? Thanks for the laugh out loud this morning.

  96. @gemli “polling the electorate “...... well played.

  97. If we’re lucky, eventually we will follow the example of California. We we cut spending and raise taxes in order to save the nation. I shudder to imagine the events that will get us to that place.

  98. Awwww, Bret's WSJ snow-globe has offered up another Fractured Fairy Tale from the future, matching all those from the past which get spread about by his old owner/boss, Rupert Murdoch's media foghorn(s). It's Fake News - a script generated 2 years early leaving out salient details just like the White House's Helsinki transcript left out inconvenient questions posed to V. Putin in 2018. Everyone knows that there were no actual 2020 elections, since Norm Ornstein's 2018 prediction as made in Roger Cohen's column was so prescient: “The framers were very much aware that we could end up with an immoral demagogue,” Ornstein said. “They built in safeguards, the most significant being an independent Congress, with power of the purse, oversight, confirmation, impeachment. But at every level, this Congress has failed miserably. Republicans have done nothing but try and protect Trump, despite outrageous ineptitude, cabinet offices being manipulated to make money, children treated in criminal fashion — no oversight hearings, nothing! This is the biggest abdication I have ever seen.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/opinion/trump-putin-summit-republican... as well as: "Ornstein’s nightmare scenario: Trump fires Mueller, pardons himself and everyone else, sends his followers into the street, and, after the inevitable bloodshed, declares martial law." Fake News !

  99. Well done, Mr. Stephens. But so many commentators here JUST WON'T GET IT. Especially here!

  100. And look at the political map at top center of today's NYT website! Bret - you're spot on.

  101. Bret may be better suited for writing fiction than non-fiction. How successful is he at picking the winning lottery numbers? While it was an interesting fantasy, I do not see the DEMS selecting either Sen. Warren or Sen. Sanders as their standard bearer in 2020. If they do, the President will be re-elected by an even greater margin than forecasted by Mr. Stephens.

  102. The problem with this analysis is that aside from raising the stock market by piling on a couple more trillion dollars into the national debt, Trump hasn't accomplished anything. He is rolling back protections for the environment, for workers, for children's health, and is dismantling the ACA, all of which will have disastrous effects on our citizens. These effects will become impossible to ignore. His adventures in trade wars have already cost a cool 12 billion dollars that he had to use to pay off the farmers to make up partially for the damage he has caused them already. Trump is not going to actually improve our trading relationships, he can only cause damage and then walk back some of it, then declare it a success. The only question is whether Trump's multiple failures become apparent before or after the 2020 election. It's hard to say.

  103. @Clearheaded Good grief, aren’t they apparent NOW?

  104. @Clearheaded, the administration has authorized $12 billion for farmers, but that is not how much the tariffs cost. It's much more.

  105. @Clearheaded. He is thought of as controlling illegal immigration even though he is incompetent at it, and the Dems are taken as open borders crackpots, even though only the leftmost handful seek open borders. Dems also have a problem with demonizing white males, the largest voting bloc.

  106. The National Enquirer Nov. 6, 2024 What was long anticipated was confirmed by yesterday's election: President Donald Trump has been elected for a third term winning a commanding 97 percent of the popular vote. In an exclusive interview with White House Press Secretary Sean Hannity, Mr. Trump's running mate Jared Kushner acknowledged Mr. Trump's thanks to the American people. In other news, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of the People of California, New York and Massachusetts vs the President, seeking to re-seat Congress. In a seven to two decision, the court dismissed the case ruling that the people had no standing. Mr. Trump tweeted his thanks to his two recent court appointments which were made after Congress was suspended by executive order. The defense of America from the terror of Canada continues in its second year. American troops have launched a siege of Montreal. The occupation of Ottawa continues with pockets of resistance. Peace Secretary John Bolton said all resistance will be peacefully wiped out. Today's weather forecast is the same as yesterday and the year before. Temperatures above 120 will continue across the north. The drought in the south will continue in its third year. The two months of torrential rains which destroyed Philadelphia will continue in eastern Pennsylvania. People are reminded not to go out of doors without their breathing masks. In the end, America's fall and disgrace are not funny.

  107. @jabarry Your scenario seems so likely/possible that it makes me sick to read. All things I fear and some I hadn't considered.

  108. @jabarry. Fantastic! Gileadish. Well done, jabarry.

  109. @jabarry: Superb. You left out two things: martial law and nighttime visits by hooded figures.

  110. America is the issue--not Trump! Stephens deflects! We are long past Trump. Brent also denies, which means he colludes. Conservative collusion with friends, family, special interests, business, and Russia is by way of denial, by means of lying and hiding process changes, concealing decisions/deregulation, and raising taxes such as these infernal tariffs, alomg with the no-bid contract for US Moscow Embassy security awarded to a former KGB Counter-intelligence head, the Seychelles meeting, Flynn's phone calls. It's time to ask, what's next? But for now or later, no more Trump. Dial it down! Dial up smart analysis: catalog winning campaigns; foot power/door knocking, yard signs, exposing money. Working families, health and education are the issues of 2020, against a negative space filled with conflicts, uncertainty, hate, blame, and lies. When the negatives are purged, plans must be in ready to restructure wages, progress, and prosperity. The best plans follow proven templates; hidden in politics, clear in results. Solid in evidence. For poverty, Brasil's Bolsa Familia, 10 million from poverty into the middle class. For modern economic growth, the World Bank development template by Paul Collins (land/infrastructure, human community/education, regulation/administration, business clustering/economics of scale; examples Pearl River Zone, West Virginia's Chemical Alliance Zone, South Carolina's global manufacturing transportation hub). Smoke and mirrors is not a vision.

  111. @Walter Rhett The tumultuous present needs desperate attention! Trump's fiat pricing, as tariffs reflects his intent on taxing allies, demanding tribute. First, the taxes are on goods. Trump is raising prices! Second, tariffs slow down demand and lose sales. Third, the government collects the tariff; it does not go to businesses or working families. Trump has not estimated the revenue or said how it will be spent.

  112. As a liberal or Democratic Party sympathizer, I often appreciate Stephens sane & sensible observations (as well as the conversations with Collins). He outlines a very lucid peek into the future, barring an economic catastrophe - this piece of future fiction reads like the most likely scenario for 2020. With Trump seemingly bullet-proof from scandal after scandal, continual volley of lies & misdirection - where did the great U.S. moral compass go? (Or does that matter any more?) No clear path has emerged for the Dems in 2020. The current crop of potential Dem leaders offer little by the way of charisma or cohesive policy opposition & a platform that is at best scattered.

  113. @MacGregor The cohesiveness will come shortly when all of the candidates are voted upon. (how Progressive they will be) Single Payer is emerging as a de-facto plank of the party - a major shift. Once that has been achieved then the ads will start and the education there after. I don't have to tell you that midterms are not the same as the general. The electorate is going to respond. They already are.

  114. @FunkyIrishman Single payer is pie in the sky. It proved to be cost prohibitive in Vermont. It would have meant tax increases up to 18%, and would have doubled the state budget. Progressive candidates tend to have little or no experience in the real world. Many have never worked for a business, and thus have no understanding of profit, loss, investments or costs. Making America poor again through enormous tax increases with no understanding of how business works- ie-how single payer would work- is not going to set well with most people. I've voted Democrat most of my life, but don't see any candidates proposed so far for 2020 I could possibly vote for. I cannot stand Trump or his GOP, but I don't like the Democratic platform of "free" health care and "free" college, and the inaccurate and unfortunate "abolish ICE" slogan. Trump is most likely going to win re-election. Why Democrats did not call a march on Washington after Trump's treasonous behavior in Helsinki is beyond me. It may have been a chance to show some solidarity and patriotism. Taking a stand for democracy. But no. "Free" stuff, and hating money - unless you can take it away from someone else-is the message from liberals. Democrats have become the party of whiners and losers, and Trump and the GOP own the message of being the party of winners. We're a long way from changing that image.

  115. @pamela I appreciate your comment and where you are coming from. As far as Single Payer, it is not a matter of if, but when. (Vermont notwithstanding which could not be an island of socialized health care in a sea of privatization around it adding extra costs) No one is promoting ''free'' in the sense that not a single person is going to pay for it. What is being promoted is fairness that if you make more then you should be paying more taxes progressively upwards. Those taxes are to be used for the infrastructure and benefit to the most, and not just the top 1% or corporations. As far as viable candidates, there are innumerable that have solid Progressive chops and will emerge by 2020. In lieu of that there are true Progressive candidates that do not have as much ''political'' experience, but plenty in organizing and following populist messages. They are winning and not whining. You will have plenty to vote for in the coming elections. Not just this November but beyond. Regards,

  116. Glad you were able to tune in for such a detailed reading from your crystal ball. But the can the future, as Ebeneezer Scrooge famously asked of the third Spirit, "are these the things that must be or can they be changed?" Much as Scrooge also found out, yes, they can be changed, but only if the change comes from within ourselves. Getting the Republican base to admit the flaws in Trump is seemingly at this point impossible. Indeed, with all the present enthusiasm, it's a wonder Trump hasn't made his collective tweets bound in a little (Republican) Red book. The base would love them with as much glee as the most fervent of the cult-of-personality supporters of Chairman Mao loved HIS little red book during their Cultural Revolution. We certainly seem to be in a reactionary cultural revolution of our own. The future is still unwritten. Hopefully this editorial will fall into the "alternate history" section of what might have been, rather than spot-on prophecy. Our choices will determine the validity. I look for your follow-up Nov 5th, 2020.

  117. Bret, what goes up must come down - and this economy has been in expansion mode since 2010, and bubble mode since 2017. Don't count on it continuing between now and November 2020. Furthermore, don't be surprised if health issues rear their head between now and then. And if Warren is indeed the candidate in November 2020, she is winning this thing. Warren and Trump have one thing in common that might be otherwise overlooked. Both can be perceived by swing voters as change agents, even if, in practice, the latter is nothing more than an agent of chaos. Warren is more than that. If elected, she will be an authentic agent of fundamental and systemic change - and boy do we need it, now more than ever.

  118. @Matthew Carnicelli I agree because Sen. Warren has been the most outspoken voice for the common man in congress. People should pay more attention to what she has to say and remove the polarized glasses that blind them to how they are being used by the Republicans and Trump.

  119. @Matthew Carnicelli I can't stand trump - he is the worst potus in my lifetime. But there is no way Warren has any chance of winning the presidency. I hope and pray that the Democrats identify a viable candidate for taking on trump.

  120. hoping for economic collapse is not a campaign strategy.

  121. With all the talk about concern for civil rights, social issues, health care and so on, I'm not so sure that this analysis isn't possibly accurate. In any event, thanks Mr. Stephens for giving me yet another bout of indigestion as the heading "Trump won RE-ELECTION" stares me right in the face. As to this paper predicting it, if I were to name one fault this paper has committed it would be the total lack of preparation it provided which would have softened the blow on Election Day 2016, from which I (and this country) will never fully recover.

  122. I get Mr. Stephens' point about how the Democratic Party may blow the next election, though if Americans voted for Trump because of their desire for change and their disdain for Clinton, by 2020 they might be willing to vote for Spongebob SquarePants to rid themselves of our scandal-a-day, scatter brained, compromised by Putin president. And, no matter who is president, recessions are inevitable. Trump's deficit exploding tax cuts and ham handed trade war, together with his sabotage of Americans' health care, are already stoking inflation and wiping out wage gains. Our great Republic is resilient but it may not survive a two term Trump presidency, at least not in any recognizable form. I made a mistake reading this before breakfast--my nightmares generally come while I'm asleep.

  123. Ain't gonna happen... although it could if the Democrats shoot themselves in the feet again as they so frequently do. As Stephens suggests, the problem is vision. If they run simply as "anti-Trump" (as he portrays), they'll lose. That's not compelling or motivating for the turnout that will be needed (even though it would be sufficient for many of us who are habitual voters). They must develop and forcefully cast an economic vision of betterment for the majority of potential voters. And that means recalling words of wisdom from an historic Democrat, Tip O'Neill, "All politics is local." Disparate Dems such as Connor Lamb and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have won by focusing on local issues; the national party and its ticket must craft a vision and message that ties the national platform to local concern. Without that, they lose. Hopefully, they've learned that lesson and won't repeat their habitual failure to look beyond the Beltway.

  124. @FrEricF Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s election in my District was not representative of anything larger. She ran in a district with 50% Hispanics, in an off year election primary where hardly anyone voted. She does have a great telegenic smile though.

  125. 1- The Democrats won't choose Warren or anyone who has tried before to get the Democratic nomination. 2- The Republicans are no longer able to attract voters who are not glued to a major political party. They are just too far from the real American values. 3- The economy is a decisive factor only for people who belong or could belong to Trump's storm troopers, that is his base. 4- The Democrats sense much better than the Republicans what the majority of undecided voters will vote for.

  126. @James B why won't the Democrats choose Warren? What lumps her in with Sanders and also-rans of the past?

  127. @James B Oprah?

  128. Here is my non-fictional account of Trump's loss. Alarmed Americans overwhelm the polls in 2018 and 2020. Americans reject the repetitive mind-numbing pleas of Stephens/Brooks style GOP pundits to choose a GOP lite male as the Democrat candidate for President. Most GOP in the South and West stay true to Donnie Bone Spurs. But the widespread stigma attached to being a Trumpster keeps many at home. Low GOP turnout coupled with the widespread alarm that drove moderates and centrists to the polls in record numbers were enough to turn over to Democrats control of the three wings of the government. Damage repair began immediately.

  129. A possibility but certainly many other possibilities directly opposite of this can happen. You cannot predict history. Having said that the best way the dems can make it more unlikely to happen is: 1-In 2018 and 2020 in red states and nationally nominate a moderate progressive not a socialist or identity obsessed never met a Wall Street banker, war, trade agreement, social engineering project I did not like, like Hillary. 2-Don't talk of impeachment of Trump unless there is clear criminal wrongdoing by him from either the Mueller Commission of some other court. Stress censure for his most worst behavior. 3-Relating to #1, nominate moderate progressives like Lamb in Pa., who can draw in moderate republicans and independents who strayed to Trump. 4-Harshly criticize Trump even condemn him for the worst he has done like being a de facto Russian spy, separating families but don't condemn him for being alive and don't condemn Trump voters. 5-Don't stress putting a gay/lesbian transgendered statue on the WH lawn or that 50% of all CEOs should be women, stress progressive items that voters in most Trump states are for, like an affordable, universal, quality health care system like ACA, right to first term abortions, no wars, reign in Wall Street etc.

  130. I'd say that this fantasy could become reality IF Trump's a candidate. My fantasy is that the Republican candidate will Mike Pense while while Donald Trump will be in the midst of serving a long prison term.

  131. It's hard to say what's more noxious about this fantasy -- the intellectual dishonesty in presenting the progressive case, or the obvious enthusiasm for Trump's policies and standard Republican untruths (what does health care cost us now'; it's not "expensive"?), if not for Trump himself. So, according to this pundit, Democrats will lose because popular programs like Medicare-For-All and free tuition are "expensive" (Trump's tax-cuts and military buildup, which Stephens fully supports, aren't?), and multitudes who received no tax cuts, who own no stocks and who can't afford health care will be so enthralled by a 30,000 DOW, they'll joyfully vote for Trump. This is of course revealing, but not in the way Bret Stephens intends.

  132. I think the unspoken point that Bret is making is that Americans have become too stupid/ignorant to understand the valid points that you are making in your comment. The states that matter in a national election are controlled by Fox News. Propaganda and dog whistles are what get Republicans elected these days.

  133. @jrd hallelujah. Thx for saying it!

  134. How the Democrats won in a landslide: Trump’s tariffs ruined any gains auto-workers and farmers made as the trade wars ground on until layoffs and farm bankruptcies. The assault on Obamacare and the elimination of covering pre-existing conditions created outrage, panic and anecdotal horror stories making the Obamacare website crash a distant memory. The exploding deficit and further proposals to cut social Security and Medicare in order to balance the budget created sit-ins and near riots at Republican town hall meetings. Record turnout of registered Democratic voters in MI, PA, Ohio, and Wisconsin, combined with indifferent turnout by the voters who had voted for Obama twice and then tried Trump, carried those states for Warren, whose modest proposals to allow consumers to buy into Medicare proved to be surprisingly popular. Her pledge to raise taxes on incomes over $1million also proved popular as one way to fund Medicare for all. During the debate, when Warren, whose personal space was invaded by a closely stalking Trump behind her, wheeled around and told Trump to back off or she’d spank him like one of her grandchildren, it was over. Why is it, by the way that Bret Stephens can complain about Trump’s lies and pathological behavior and the danger he poses to our country— but somehow Democratic candidates must never make the man himself a campaign issue?

  135. @John C Now that's a drink worth ordering!

  136. @John C: “Why is it, by the way that Bret Stephens can complain about Trump’s lies and pathological behavior and the danger he poses to our country— but somehow Democratic candidates must never make the man himself a campaign issue?” If you’re not familiar with the term “concern trolling,” look it up, and this will make Stephens’ intentions clearer for you, I think.

  137. This is a plausible scenario. However, it assumes continued strong economic growth. Given billion-dollar deficits and deregulation of the financial sector, this seems unlikely. The big question is when the massive debt burden makes itself felt in the US economy. Financial deregulation usually takes about 6 years before the weight of the scams brings thing crashing down. (Examples: the rise and fall of the Asian “Tiger Economies” or Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economy, the US Savings and Loan debacle, or the Great Recession.). My guess is that Trump will follow his usual path, and run the organization he heads into bankruptcy before 2020. There won’t be any taxpayer money for bailouts, as Trump will have spent it on propping up his supporters. This crash will be more of a 1930s style Depression - which will destroy our democracy much as the Weimar Republic fell.

  138. Brett Stephens could give Stephen King a run for his money. This column is as scary as any King’s book. Yes, I do believe that Trump could certainly win re-election and every time I watch the news focusing on the Michael Cohen tapes or Democrat Party candidates calling for the abolition of ICE or a guaranteed federal income I can see the outline of Trump’s potential win in 2020. Should that happen he will for sure get to nominate a replacement to Ruth Baker Ginsburg and possibly Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court, a development that would for certain ensure complete GOP control of the court for generations to come. On this I give kudos to the GOP and its supporters as they keep their eyes on the prize: the Supreme Court. If only the Democrats could learn this lesson.

  139. @CEA Voters reelected Obama, who had a SC appointee ready and waiting for confirmation. The lesson Dems need to learn apparently is to disregard rules and norms. But I I think most dems would rather sleep at night and be honest with their children than follow in Republican footsteps.

  140. So, the scenario painted here is that (1) the economy continued an already record recession-free expansion despite tariffs, massively greater red ink and growing inflationary pressures; (2) swing voters — and not just unswayable Trump supporters — continued to support Trump despite the damning findings of the Mueller investigation; (3) because — and here’s the rub — because the Democratic candidates were “too left”, even marginally socialist in some policy preferences. Put another way, because Democrats didn’t resemble more the Republicans of old, the latter turned back to the corrupt Trump. That doesn’t say much for the moral integrity of now homeless Republicans. It also argues that Trump — at least in his economics — is correct, that the early expansion, now largely stalled, is the fruit of his efforts and not primarily the result of structural improvements made by his predecessor (many now incidentally removed). If Republicans, independents and swing voters are truly more frightened of a little socialism (which we already have) than Trump, then this country will get what it deserves and will have shown its true colors in the end. And it will be “the end”.

  141. @John Figlioli Don't discount the Fox News factor. Too many people rely on them and only them for informing them of the issues of the day.

  142. Already - in all honesty - it is not Russia, it is not China, it is the United States, that seems the greatest danger to Humanity. How long can the US be led by ugly Americans before the rest of the West decides it is itself ugly and dissociates itself from it? If it conveyed it does not have the means, but the will, to wage war against the US and defeat it, what would Donald and the GOP do?

  143. If Trump runs against the team of Warren/Brown in either order, Trump will win simply because the Democratic team is far too liberal. It is impossible for such a liberal team to win in a country run by the existing Electoral College system combined with gerrymandering. Democrats, get over it. You lost the battle to control elections through the basic infrastructure. Now, develop a centrist program that solves problems.

  144. @ME I already have gotten over it, and am working/supporting Liberal candidates to defeat radically right (even republican lite) members of Congress that are not anywhere near centrist. (or working to solve any problems - other than how to extract TRILLIONS more out of the poor and middle classes for the rich and corporations) Having said that. finally Progressive candidates with their messages (that ALL poll wildly popular) are finally breaking through and are winning. Regards,

  145. @Mister Ed Time to change the diet from hay to oats; otherwise, you'll be eating crow.

  146. We're months away from an inverted yield curve and Brett - God bless you, I've followed you since the WSJ - is convinced that in 2019 we won't be addressing an economic recession...

  147. This reads totally realistic and it's going to happen more or less like that, because Democrats are obsessed with virtue signaling and identity politics, which will not win over any voters who were not already on their side.

  148. As someone who fought propaganda behind the iron curtain, I equate terms like “virtue signaling” with the old Soviet term, “imperialist”. It says more about the speaker than the object to which the speaker refers. Thanks, for the “opinion”. I am sure you are “building socialism for a better world, comrade”.

  149. @GS in fact, identity politics and virtue signaling have driven me away.

  150. Well, if the Wall Street Journal types are concerned enough of Democrats actually giving a voice to working families that they pen opinion fantasies like this, maybe that's exactly what Democrats should do. Consider this. Democrats nominated the quintessential establishment candidate in 2016, resulting in millions of disgusted independent and liberal voters to sit out the election. We all know what happened then. As this opinion piece suggests, the only people truly afraid of restoring a progressive voice to the Democratic party are Republicans - and those currently holding on to power in the Democratic Party.

  151. @Mark She may have lost votes as a quintessential Democratic candidate but she also lost votes because of her gender. There is a lot of male resentment, fear and hatred of successful women and oddly, from women as well because we don't applaud and appreciate other women's successes as much as we should.

  152. If I wanted to read the Wall Street Journal, I would subscribe to it. With all due respect, this is sneaky fear-mongering unsubstantiated by facts. Let's start with the most important one: Trump has lost popularity across the country, including in the swing states- https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-trumps-popularity-is-holding-up... Democrats don't need to listen to what Republicans think they should do and they need to stop doing the bidding of their corporate masters and reclaim the populism and integrity that made the party great. They are tentatively on that path, now, and if they don't lose their courage, independents will support them and the 50% of the population that doesn't vote will engage with the political process again and change will come to America. Trump is going down. Lastly, we have no idea what Mueller has but a hill of beans is not what it looks like.

  153. @Joe Precisely and prescient comment. At this point republicans are indeed, irrelevant. Liberals and Progressives are decidedly in the majority of voters. (in almost every district) All they have to do is show up. I think they will.

  154. Turnout is the key to the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election. If the Democrats turn out suburban women and minority voters, especially in the South, Trump is in trouble. Mr. Stephens’ scenario is troubling. But it is based on current events. He cannot see into the future. He cannot see any devastating natural disasters that might have an impact on 2020 or, God forbid, a terrorist attack. What I find truly depressing about his column, combined with the precinct-level 2016 election results map published by the Times today, is the stark divide in this country between rural and urban areas. The person who figures out how to bridge that gap could be president one day.

  155. What an indictment of the US voting public. “I don’t care if he is moral or if he crushes the downtrodden. I only care about me.” Yet it may be an accurate assessment of the average American voter who forms strong opinions based on popular news reporting. I don’t think most foreign observers would be surprised however. The decline of the US has been recognized for a good while. It is simply sad to see it exposed so obviously.

  156. But Bill Clinton was no "honest Abe" either. Maybe he wasn't outwardly corrupt but his moral compass was pretty low and no one seemed to care.

  157. @Kirk I only take exception to your described popular news reporting. Fox hate is not news... it is propaganda & out right lies.

  158. @Anita Bill Clinton was a smart guy under whose governance our nation enjoyed eight years of peace and prosperity. I was there. He was not batcrap crazy; he was not a bigot; conducted himself like an adult among the nations; he worked to improve the U.S., not hand it over to our sdversaries. I wouldn't have wanted to marry the guy, but I wasn't picking a husband, I was voting for a President. The people who excoriated him for his sex life turned out to be no better and a lot more hypocritical.

  159. The article, in a nutshell, is the problem for democrats. No coherent message other than medicare for all and no message that your inflation adjusted wages haven't risen at all under any Republican administration since Reagan was first elected. The fictitious kevin o'reilly is typical of trump supporters I know personally. They think the market going up is good news for them personally. Alas, the data says otherwise. A vast majority don't have much saved or invested for retirement (over two thirds) and second, the bottom 80% of americans own less than 7% of the market's wealth and this includes direct ownership of stocks and indirect ownership through mutual funds, trusts, IRAs, Keogh plans and other retirement accounts.

  160. @tom Could we put to rest the fact that all those lovely "retirement" vehicles invested in the stock market by even the 7% is nothing more than a huge gamble with people's money? Some are luckier than others. And then when Congress denies adequate raises in people's Social Security by eliminating categories "too volatile" to calculate inflation or reducing their SS dollars by whatever amount they may have earned in a public pension job dollar for dollar despite paying into BOTH systems, that disadvantages the elderly as well. Members of both houses need to get off their elite perches and down in the trenches where real folks live or better yet, we need to elect people who come from less than wealthy circumstances.

  161. @tom The media doesn't report the Dem's message. Much more click-bait on a dt story. It's good for the bottom-line.

  162. @Karen K Agree that social security needs to be solved but neither party is doing it. My choice would echo almost every study and commission in the last 40 years. Increase payroll tax by 0.2% over 10 years and eliminate the cap. That would pay 95% of benefits in perpituity. As to the market, disagree. The long term gains in the market is known and not a gamble and investing in a total market index fund is not gambling (individual stocks can be a gamble) but there is no luck involved.

  163. At first I would like to thank Mr. Stephens for his comment. Even though I do not agree with his political stance, his articles are written with great thought and professionalism. They are a good opportunity for all liberals to see things in a different light. This being said Mr. Stephens prediction could very well turn out to be accurate, BUT it all comes down to the presidential candidate. Winning the favor of the public never had anything to do with actual politics, since - lets face it - most people just are not interested and not politically educated enough to understand the consequences of political decisions. Winning over the public ultimately comes down to emotions. Is the democratic candidate going to be able to evoke more love, more inspiration, more trust or even more hostility than Trump? I don't know. But what I do know however is the following: Trump is a master of emotions! No matter whether you agree with his decisions or not it is impossible to deny that he stays in everybody's mind, he remains to most prominent news topic ever since he started running for president, he mastered the use of social media and there are few people anywhere that do not have a personal opinion (i.e. personal emotions) towards him. If Democrats want to have a chance in the 2020 election they will inevitably need to understand how the American public feels and how they want to feel. In all honesty the only person I can see inspiring more emotions than Trump right now is Oprah..

  164. @Max Golling - A black celebrity? Many voters will think of the worst features of Obama and Trump, combined in one candidate.

  165. Wow, in reading many of the negative comments on this Op-Ed I think my fellow readers have missed the point. What I believe Mr. Stephens is doing is writing a reverse playbook on how the Democratic Party could actually defeat Donald Trump in 2020. At least, that's how I have read it. I don't know what Mr. Stephens political leanings are, although I suspect he is a moderate Republican, but I have found in reading his column and listening to him on various news round table discussions that he is pretty centered regarding how he views the Trump Presidency. The Dems should read this column and do just the opposite of what it portends.

  166. @Len I believe you're right. Reverse playbook is a good way to put it.

  167. @Len - In your dreams - the Dems are headed straight for the cliff.

  168. Politics will catch up to Trump too but there are certain requirements for that to happen sooner than later. Democrats need to learn the lessons of Hillary Clinton's failure. Democrats must run candidates that are viewed as connecting to at least two of the following: rural, suburban and urban. Democrats need to be perceived as multi-regional, and they must be principled along traditional democratic lines in an authentic way. Hillary Clinton was urban, northeastern, unprincipled and superficial. Yes, I know she once came from Arkansas but she no longer came across as southern or rural. And her principles were for sale.

  169. @tony That is very harsh and very unfair, Tony. We do no good for the future to trash the past, especially on such opinionated bases. Focus on the here and now, and work for its betterment.

  170. Also the Electoral College must be blown up. Citizens deserve their votes to count no more or less than those of their fellow citizens. Let THE PEOPLE decide our leaders, not a math formula. Otherwise I’m afraid there will be a revolution and overthrowing of our government. And rightfully so! The Electoral College is anti-democratic.

  171. If Americans favored by the electoral college are determined to turn their country into a cesspool of corruption, there's not much anyone can do to stop them is there?

  172. The Republicans may very well preserve their tyranny of the red minority. But one wonders how long the blue majority will put up with it before taking Jefferson's words to heart: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

  173. Jefferson's statement has been used by the conservative side, too, in the past, and was, maybe still is, the underpinning for the "militias" and fervent support for the distorted version of the 2nd amendment. Fellow Democrats, let's not go there.

  174. @Pierre D. Robinson, B.F., W.S. The point, though, is if our electoral system continues to put Republicans in power despite the majority voting for Democrats AND the Republicans continue to govern in a way that completely disregards the voices and wishes of the majority of voters, which leans Democratic, the majority at some point is going to have to ask a serious question whether this government works for us. Jefferson was serious when he said the people have a right to institute a government that effects their security AND happiness. If our government does not allow us to pursue happiness, if it doesn't represent our wishes and interests, if it actively flouts our desires for ourselves, our children, and our communities—and if its political system doesn't allows us any real power or a voice in how were are governed—how long do we patiently allow ourselves to suffer? Treating the majority with disdain may please the Republican base and help Republicans hold power, but at some point the majority will find the evils of their government insufferable.

  175. @617to416 - An armed rebellion led by college professors and journalists? That I'd like to see. I suggest you guys take the NRA gun safety training course first...

  176. Interesting speculation, but the best indicators of the future are usually found in the past and so it's useful to consider Trump's performance as a businessman to see how the economy will perform under his leadership. Remember that he has been bankrupted four times and has business practices so shady he still refuses to disclose his tax returns which would shed some light on his businesses. It's true that all presidents get more praise and blame than they deserve for the state of the economy. But Trump has such a long track record of failure and malpractice that it's hard to believe that he will do any better with the economy.

  177. Plausible? Yes. But my hunch is Stephens' scenario underestimates the damaging information that comes out on Trump between now and 2020, especially if Dems have the ability to hold hearings and issue subpoenas. Trump is hiding his finances with the air of a desperate man. I also suspect Stephens underestimates the fear generated by Trump deficits, deficits the GOP can do nothing about that doesn't risk massive alienation of retirees and other voters. As well as the risks of trade wars.

  178. @Dave Scott the problem is that a huge swath of the country could care less. His base will follow him right off a cliff, and Fox News is the go-to news channel in a large part of the country. The propoganda campaign against Mueller is working. As long as the Regime stays on its current course of destruction and lies, enemies hack our election and security systems, Democrats stick to their weaknesses (as usual) and the Alice-through-the-looking-glass reversal of truth continues, I'm afraid what Stephens is predicting could come true. And then the nail is really in the U.S.'s coffin, much to Putin's delight.

  179. @Dave Scott - You are assuming the Dems win the House in 2016. This is looking less and less likely every day. Suppose, instead, the GOP picks up two or three additional seats - what will the Dems do then?

  180. @Jonathan, please cite a non-partisan source for your claim about the House getting redder.

  181. Great article! This scary scenario is certainly possible and arguably likely—if the Democrats are so caught up in their righteousness they still fail to understand how they blew the election of 2016. And how DID they do that? In a nutshell, they failed to target the swing vote, the disaffected middle class voters who had been bypassed by the economy. This left the field open for now-President Trump to swoop up this group and win by a hair. President Trump's solutions for this group were all bombast—things like reopening coal mines and steel mills—but at least he talked about something. This was unlike the Democrats, who wasted most of their energy pointing out how awful Trump was, as though the voters were too dumb to figure that out on their own. But there's something about Mr. Stephen's scenario that to me doesn't work. This is that if Senator Warren was the candidate she would simply lead a 2016 re-do. First, I think she's too smart to do that. And second, if there's anyone in the U.S. who understands the problems of the disaffected middle class and what to do about them she's the one. In fact, she wrote the book, on this. It's called This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class. So yes, this is a scary scenario. But I'm optimistic that Democrats (I am one) are smart enough to not let this happen, and I'm particularly hopeful that we're wise enough to select Senator Warren as our best hope to head this off and get our country back on track.

  182. @Jerry S. Warren if she runs for President will not win. She may be qualified but she will not win.

  183. I see a lot of comment that will explain the extraordinary turnout in NY part of the prediction. And I guess the morning after there will be a lot of them paraphrasing the famous Paulina Kael line " I don't understand how Nixon won, I don't know a single person who voted for him". The same reasons people in liberal bastions don't understand why Trump was elected will explain why they won't understand his reelection.

  184. @Todd I don't understand why anybody would vote for a racist, sexist moron who alienates all our allies, starts trade wars for nothing, denies facts, destroys good policy for no reason other than it was created by a predecessor, and punishes asylum seekers by kidnapping their children, and that's just off the top of my head. Nothing right or left, red or blue, dem or repub about simple human decency, or the lack of it.

  185. @bill well you could decide that aproximately half the country are deplorables ala Hillary or you could try to see what they believe they are voting for and voting against. Living in NYC ( which I’m also from) makes it harder because of lack of diversity of ideas.

  186. Bret Stephens is the new David Brooks. You must have a few slightly palatable, only mildly-delusional - most of Mr. Stephen's recent excursions have been into Fantasyland - conservatives that you could, in theory, do lunch with at Le Grenouille. The latent content of Mr. Stephens' epistles is what it's intended to be - closet neo-con propaganda - which should not be underestimated. In the current political environment, propaganda (rather than responsible effective governance) is a powerful force and also the skin of the teeth that the Trump administration hangs from. The Republicans need all the help - even trying to peddle more of their "conservative" fantasies - they can get.

  187. The essence of Mr. Stephens' column has little to do with Trump and has everything to do with the lack of depth of candidates and issues of the Democrats. Have they already forgotten that the can't lose candidacy of Clinton did just that to a vile cartoon character? More importantly, would Bernie have done better or even as well? What we are seeing is two parties who simply have no leaders of national stature. The Republicans have relinquished leadership of their party to a fascist wing that has always been there representing a solid 35% of the electorate which, in spite of its minority, has intimated all Republicans while silencing many Democrats. Kind of reminds you of the 37% of the 1932 presidential election in Germany, another autocrat who ruled by "gut and instinct"

  188. Thank you, Brett. You took your thoughts out of my heads. I am a former Democrat who could no longer take all the identity politics. I held my breath and did vote for Clinton in 2016. Will definitely vote for Trump in 2020. May God keep him safe.

  189. @Rosemarie Consoli exactly what a bot would say! May God keep America safe by ridding us of Trump and Pence.

  190. @Kate I might be too old to know what a bot is, but your prayers are against mine. Let’s just let God decide. Thanks for your prayers, though.

  191. @Rosemarie Consoli “God” will continue to help him pay off porn stars I’m sure.

  192. Stephens, The buffoon in the WH might win re-election - or, perhaps more accurately, be reinstalled - but your hypothetical premise that economic performance will drive it is highly unlikely. The Donald runs every organization he leads into the ground - how many times has he filed for bankrupcy? - and he will do the same to the US. Already several economic signals suggest wilting economic performance, and the effects of regulatory "reform" and accelerating economic inquality due to the tax bill passed last year, not to mention burgeoning deficits, cast a big shadow over US economic prospects.

  193. I don’t know if Mr. Stephens intended it, but the mention of Warren and Pelosi is key. There are enough people in this country who do not want a female President, nor women in high places. One of them is Trump, and the way he behaves toward women challengers taps into the misogyny. Much as I admire Elizabeth Warren, I hope she doesn’t run. When HRC ran, I thought that, in this country, any man could beat her, and that’s what happened.

  194. @Patricia Spalletta - But if a woman with the policies and character of Margaret Thatcher ran on the GOP ticket, you can bet even the misogynists would vote for her.

  195. @Patricia Spalletta: a woman can definitely win, just not Hillary.

  196. This account is highly selective. For one, it does not mention the nationwide protests put down by Trump's new paramilitary force, with more than 1,000 people dead or missing. Nor does it mention the suspended vote counts in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, where electoral authorities dismissed reports of "serious irregularities", certifying incomplete results nonetheless. The fact that 200,000 more votes were indicated in two rural Ohio counties than actual people living there was labeled "fake news" by Minister of Propaganda Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Meanwhile, the nation's deficit topped 27 trillion dollars, atrocities have been confirmed bordering on genocide by US forces in Venezuela, and the 72 record straight 110+ degree days in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York, Atlanta, Louisville, etc. continued. The booming economy has allowed many more, however, to purchase air conditioners and guns. Fortunately, Fox News is still around to keep everyone upbeat with all the good news about the economy.

  197. @Joe "This account is highly selective. For one, it does not mention the nationwide protests put down by Trump's new paramilitary force, with more than 1,000 people dead or missing" Please provide proof.

  198. How about predicting something easy-- who will win the Super Bowl this year and have you placed a $100,000 bet on your prediction.

  199. To avoid this article becoming our future experience...who will the majority vote for in the mid terms and in the next Presidential election that can ensure Trump's defeat? The majority of voters will need to rally around a candidate...where and who are they ?? Who will help us bring change and truly make America great again ??

  200. @Dave Voters will do it. We have to stop with the cults of personality. Our job is more than poppping up every four years to complain that we weren't "given" the exact right candidate.

  201. DOW 30,000 is of little meaning to the vast majority of Americans, who own very little if any stocks.

  202. @Bill Smith, but the trump minions think this is a sign of prosperity for the masses. I guess they live vicariously thru their rich masters...smh

  203. The good news is that Bret Stephens has proven time travel is possible. The bad news is that the future is inevitable.

  204. A plausible scenario. I share your fears Stephens.

  205. A cute, cynical peek into a very unlikely future. Two years from now, if the coming recession hasn't tainted some Americans' views of high employment-with-no-money-to-spend, if they've turned their backs on their children's education, if the wars in the Middle East haven't drawn down the nation's human and financial resources even further, and the inflation brought on by trade wars hasn't caused them to think that there are no scapegoats left, maybe Trump will have a chance. More likely, though, that he'll be trying to make a deal with his successor for a full pardon and a lounge chair in Florida.

  206. "Party of abortion and amnesty". In reality, it is the Democrats who actually do something to bring down the abortion rate rather than just pontificate. Provisions for effective birth control, health care for all, sex education, support for Planned Parenthood which has prevented millions of abortions, are quite Democratic Party initiatives. The abortion rate and teen pregnancy rate is dropping as more effective birth control is available. The Democrats need to highlight their actions as opposed to those who simply want to make feel good anti abortion statements.

  207. I can't even think about this. I'm trying to live in the moment taking this administration nightmare by nightmare and looking for bright spots wherever they might be. And I find those bright spots in the regional races where democrats are working the issues- not yelling about impeachment- but jobs & trade and the environmental protections like clean air and water that most of us rely on. Important issues which this administration doesn't seem to care about.

  208. Terrific column -- inventive and thoughtful. And it could happen. However, if protectionism triumphs and we get trillion-dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see, then I don't see Dow 30,000 or 4.1% unemployment in our future. Still, the other point deftly made here -- that if the Democrats turn to a Warren or a Sanders they will lose -- is so on the mark. Getting Green voters and other far-lefties to turn out for the Democratic ticket will be more than offset by the sane people who will stay home or even vote Trump rather than turn the government over to someone like Elizabeth Warren.

  209. @Jon Harrison I'm surprised that more people don't see the Trump tariff threats as bluster and negotiation. Trump wants to get re-elected. By the time November 2020 rolls around, the threat of trade wars will have passed and if Trump can point to concessions US trading partners have made that helped US farmers, manufacturers, etc., it will bolster his re-election chances. I think Stephens' column is spot on. A leftward turn by the Democrats will resonate with the base in CA and the northeast metro areas, but will fall flat among the majority of voters in the states that will determine the election. Barring an indictment, major scandal or unexpected economic decline between now and late 2020, Trump has a decent to good chance of getting re-elected.

  210. @TommyStaff: I definitely see your point on trade. You may very well be right. I happen to think that Nemesis is trotting at Trump's heels, and that he will pay for his sins in the end. But if someone like Warren or Kamala Harris is the Democratic nominee, all bets are off.

  211. @Jon Harrison I completely agree Jon. The Dems need to nominate a moderate, or at least a center-left candidate, who will appeal to voters who may otherwise consider voting for Trump.

  212. I don’t understand how Democrats always take Republican bait on divisive issues before every election – same sex marriage, transgender rights, and now immigration. As moral as these issues are, Republicans are winning elections with them leaving the Democratic minority to wring its hands as Trump takes America back to the 50’s. We absolutely need to stand up for minorities, but we also need to address wider issues such as jobs, reducing inequality, expanding healthcare, and bringing our financial house in order. None of that will happen, and indeed will continue to regress, if Democrats cannot win in November because we seem more interested in illegal immigration and bathrooms instead of law and order and job security.

  213. @Bob By the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million, it would point to Democrats NOT being the minority. Only severe gerrymandering, the electoral college, FOX news lies, and probably Russian meddling secured the vote for Donald Trump. Please stick to the facts.

  214. @Bob - Black men are actually getting jobs in the current economy, and doing much better than they did in the Obama administration. Many of them are starting to re-think their automatic vote for the Dems....

  215. Article from the NYTimes, December 2018: Markets Tank! Despite a rout in both houses of Congress by Democrats, the policies put in place by Trump and rubberstamped by the previous Republican congress caused the markets to founder. Corporations spent so much of their massive tax break on buying back stock, they did not invest either in infrastructure or employees. The tariffs imposed by Trump led to massive bankruptcies of smaller farmers in the heartland. Policy wonks like Bret Stephens tried to gloss over the situation but banks had to declare a holiday because scared people made a run on their assets. Martial law is being considered. More details to come.

  216. @Leslie Durr Yesterday, the lead article on MarketWatch, a WSJ financial news entity, was about Paulson, Geithner, et al, owing up to the fact that the Lehman meltdown could have been prevented. Lehman had sufficient assets, so that an emergency financial reorganization could have been arranged - like Bear Stearns - that would have avoided the calamity that affected ordinary people more than the scions of Goldman Sachs who were running the country at that time (and now). Two days later, they bailed out AIG. Not much was said about the rationale for this decision: but ideological considerations - "efficient markets," "small government," not picking winners and losers, and other timeworn "conservative principles" - were certainly at play. But most of those principles - including evil deficits, free trade, picking winners - have gone out the window in this Trumped-up Republican economic fantasy/wonderland. But the effects of Lehman are still being felt: perpetually low interest rates have devastated fixed-income investing for ordinary people who might need the income from a CD.

  217. Sadly, this could happen, as we have tens of millions of Americans willing to vote for someone like Trump. Twice. Which is what was so shocking to those of us who could never do so.

  218. Mr. Stephens may be right. The only fresh air in Democratic party is coming from the Bernie Sanders wing. They have the right policies but no serious person thinks that agenda can be implemented quickly. It will take 20 to 30 years and the first 10 years of that will be spent simply improving the efficiency and competency of service delivery by government.

  219. Brett, good science fiction has the reader willingly accepting a version of reality fertilized by mythological aliens with a tidal wave of plausible futurism. In trumpland's science fiction fact has a time span of five minutes to twenty hours. Blink and a new set of facts develops Examples: Trade wars are easy to win. We'll have the best healthcare when I'm prez. Russia didn't interfere in our election. Tax cuts helped the working class. Tariffs will create jobs. Fake news . Stronger against Russia than anyone. EU our foe. Drain the swamp. I'll hire only the best people. Mexico will pay for wall. Obama a Muslim. Who knew and fill in the phase. But Brett, your main point, economy, changes at warp speed too. Remember the economic collapse at end of Bush term? Who saw it coming? We have a president who changes positions more than a baby's bottom gets changed. Unforeseen economic events are not science fiction but historical events driven by reality of jobs, innovation, trade, confidence,profits, wages,taxes, need, all feeding into the economic cycle. Obama had a bright, learned group aiding him going forward. Trump? Brett, look at changing facts for auto industry and farmers hitting Times pages daily Those are not Trump science fiction fantasy but reality based facts. With 2020 who knows where economy will be, George Bush or Obama.

  220. Trump made many claims that in retrospect are laughable. "I only hire the best people" , "I won't have time for golf", "no one on my campaign colluded with Russia", "I'm a great deal-maker" to name just a few. Now that Americans know how Trump actually governs (sic), in my opinion it's a sure thing independent voters will abandon him. The only path Trump has to re-election is if there is a third party candidate and no candidate receives the required 270 electoral college votes, throwing the election to the House of Representatives, where according to the rules, each state gets only one vote, so it doesn't matter who actually controls the House - it's another of our undemocratic laws that gives more power to land mass than people population.

  221. It's not that hard to come up with a solid Democratic counter: increased educational opportunity for all, increased access to medical care for all, a fairer tax burden for the middle class, protecting not destroying the environment, and unflinching support for democracy and the rule of law. This is sufficient to cover the Party from its most leftist fringes to its center-right opposite and stands in stark contrast to Republican policies.

  222. While Trump's actions certainly have the potential to crater the economy, that's also what lots of folks said when he was elected. It hasn't happened yet and may not happen in the next two years. In the absence of a war or other cataclysmic event I agree that the state of the economy will be key. If the economy is doing well, Mr. Stephens' scenario is quite plausible.

  223. Despite being horrified on a daily basis by Trump & Company, Bret Stephens managed to jolt me awake far more efficiently than my second cup of coffee, even recalling some of those deeply distressing, morning after sensations from November, 2016. This piece should be required reading for every Democratic in the country.

  224. Spurious thinking and analysis: 1) While the economy has grown, its benefits have not trickled down. Data suggest that the disparity between the upper income group and the rest has been widening uninterruptedly. Clearly, the benefits of the booming economy or the recent tax overhaul have not been felt by the low income group; 2) medicare and medicaid budget would have to be cut to service the rising deficit - Obamacare subsidies would have vanished leaving 20 mm poor uninsured and in despair; 3) The tariffs-driven trade policy will slowly but steadily isolate the US from global markets, eventually shrinking the US economy starting probably from Fall 2019; 4) Quality of life would have greatly deteriorated for the middle and low income class by 2020, making democrats more attractive for the presidency; 5) The rising anger among women and other minority groups will materially tilt the election in favor of democrats; 6) In politics, perception plays a significant part - by 2020, the image of Trump (if he is still president) would have gone down the toilet.

  225. @Raghavan Parthasarthy "1) While the economy has grown, its benefits have not trickled down." And that is the key!

  226. @Raghavan Parthasarthy In what sense are women a minority group?

  227. Enough with the opinion pieces by conservatives telling liberals they need to be more conservative to win. How about they try to walk their own party back from the edge. Some version of most “liberal” causes, like Medicare for all, have majority support among the population, if not the government. It’s a matter of packaging, not content.

  228. This friendly advise will of course be ignored by the usual suspects that still seem to prefer (paraphrasing Tom Lehrer) winning the Folk Songs but losing the War. However, there's a good chance that Mr. Stephens is wrong....it will be Nikki Haley,not Trump.

  229. @Alan J. Ross I would be no fan of Nikki Haley, but she at least seems like a responsible adult capable of not lying every time she opens her mouth. Pipe dream though.

  230. The attempt to predict the future is the follow of the fool. It's over 26 months until the next election and, as far as we know, no one or thing in our known, observable universe can divine what will transpire between now and then. Remember that at this time in George HW's presidency, he had an approval rating at 60% or over and it would go on to be pushing 90%. And he wasn't playing with geo-political/economic fire like Mr. Trump is (and he also accepted reality and advice of his experts). We'll see...

  231. @Jake Reeves This article is less a prediction than a warning to the Democratic Party.

  232. Trying to predict the future is a terrible idea. For years the Democrats told us that demographics would favor their party in the future because the "white" proportion in the population was going down and "non-whites" were Democrats. Turned out that was a statistical illusion created by restrictive definitions of who was "white" . My own prediction, for what it is worth, is that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe vs Wade, and abortion opponents will no longer have any reason to vote for Trump or any other Republican.

  233. Trump did not win the popular vote in 2016 and again in 2020 he has lost the majority vote, despite tremendous efforts to prevent people of the majority party from voting. But his hand-picked Supreme Court has declared him the winner and as Commander in Chief Trump has called out the troops to enforce his great victory. On his coattails ride the GOP senators and representatives who swore back in 2017 that they would protect him no matter what the Constitution said. And the media? Fox News is delighted that all their predictions of a massive Trump victory have come true. America has been made great again thanks to a docile citizenry.

  234. How Trump lost the mid-terms and was trounced in 2020: Democrats ran as the party of the people. Voters finally understood that while voters' corporate bosses are fatter and happier under Trump, voters are not. Wages have stagnated. The average worker has the equivalent spending power of an employee in 1960 while inflation has increased the cost of consumer goods by more than 10% thanks to Trump's tariffs and policies aimed to benefit corporations over workers. Trump also let voters down - then lied to them - about his tax cut. GE, for instance, got a $10 million tax break in 2018, while its U.S. employees each received an average of $12 a month. Corporations now pay less as a group toward U.S. taxes than they have since 1930. The stock market is doing great as a result, but Trump has fought every attempt by Democrats to install a living-wage bill for workers and Trump through executive action eliminated regulations that protected pensions and health care. The average worker today needs to work 10 years longer than their parents did to accumulate enough to retire, and even then they will retire (thanks To Trump) with a per-month retirement that is on average 30% less than their parents' retirement incomes.

  235. Mr. Stephens missed an important factor in Trump's re-election: The Russians, whose cyber-meddling in 2016 spurred no pushback by the Trump administration, once again flooded social networks with false defamations about his Democratic opponent, that clearly tipped the election. And while Trump won the Electoral College by three votes, the Democrats took the popular vote by six million.

  236. A plausible scenario, especially with Elizabeth Warren as the presidential candidate and as long as the market continues to go up. Even if folks lose their job or have their pay cut, that still might not be a compelling reason for people to change allegiance (example article below). There are huge new paradigm shifts happening in the economy and one of the reasons why even economists are scratching their heads. If economists can't figure it out, think about the average man on the street. Ask him why they need 3 jobs to barely make ends meet and they will gravitate to the easiest and most emotionally satisfying answer given to them. Trump is happy to oblige. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/business/economy/trade-factory-trump.... To win in the future, the democrats have a long road in front of them to re-educate a whole generate about why things are the way they are and change the narrative.

  237. This is good. It really is a replay of what happened when Reagan ran for his second term. Democrats nominated a very decent man and liberal, but he was easily caricatured and derided as a tax and spend liberal. If Dems go with socialism (even as just a label, which it really only is) and stick with Warren and Pelosi, we are doomed. This piece is prophetic.

  238. What Stephens failed to mention was that Social Security benefits have been cut numerous times because of the massive federal; deficit. In addition, the ACA and Medicare have been eviserated leading to many deaths. Defense spending has increased 10 fold which also adds to the deficit. The population has fallen in the US because of the lack of health care for pregnant women and the loss of benefits from Medicare and through the ACA. In addition, the federal prison population for women has increased by 10% because abortion has been criminalized and in some states women have been sent to death row for having an abortion. Finally, a wholesale slaughter of Muslims and immigrants has been sanctioned by the Trump administration because he has deputized vigilantes who must be members of NRA.

  239. Trump has been reelected twice, already. Once, when right out of the box, he smashed 'fake news' in the mouth. Then again, when he slapped the taste out of Warshington and cowhorts, mouths. He now stands on the brink of being reelected again, for a third time -- over trade. Then, yet again; all hands on deck, for the continued shattering of the rudderless geopolitical gamesmanship that was being played with China, NK and Russia, even Africa. Then of course, '20.

  240. I hope your projection here is wrong, but it may well be right. I have a sinking feeling that Trump will somehow manage to win a second term. Why do I think so? Political malpractice on the part of the Democratic Party. We're a few months from the mid-terms and Democratic leadership is puttering around. It has come up with no clear rebuttal to Trump on a daily basis. So far, Congressional Democrats look weak and vacillating. They have no spokespersons or emerging leaders. I can't imagine that they would run Warren and Brown, but anything is possible these days. We voters are going to have to get our act together to avoid this outcome.

  241. My prediction is that Trump will win reelection, but will not finish out his second term. The ongoing Mueller investigation will finally find a smoking gun, and that, coupled with "buyer's remorse" will prove too much for Trump and his supporters. Like Nixon, under the threat of impeachment, he will quit so he can save face and still somehow convince himself he was the greatest president ever (just the victim of the worst witch hunt in history and the fake news! So sad!)

  242. "It's the economy stupid" will be one reason - if Trump can hold on, and the recession that the bond yields predict is a chimera. But if the combination of tariffs and uncertainty rattles investors and people hiring, he could be looking at a less rosy economy. No, Trump will win because the people who support him believe he is fighting for them. A recent article in the Times talked to Ohio workers, who were hit in the paycheck - fewer hires, no new investment, lost raises - but were for him anyway. Economic improvement was less valuable than sticking it to trade partners they believe took advantage. And the reality that no one is really taking advantage, because you were actually better off with the trade as it was, may be factual, but doesn't matter. The Democrats are shadow boxing: the ideas they are fighting are not real. Trump supporters are happier with a perception that someone is improving their lot, than the reality of it. And they are happier making Liberals weep than making everyone better off. How do you fight that?

  243. Here’s another short summary of a future elections scenario for November 4, 2020: Mueller lists Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator citing corruption and collusion in Russia probe. Mueller leaves door open to indict Trump on money laundering scheme once he leaves office. Lingering recession resulting from U.S. trade woes considered major factor in Trump election loss to Biden and Warren. Counties in PA, OH and MI prove decisive turning away from 2016 votes for Trump. Biden and Warren on victory:” Our long national nightmare is over.

  244. @JT FLORIDA No not Biden I would have voted for him instead of Clinton, he will be too old by then and Warren is too left of center for her to appeal to the masses.

  245. @Margo Channing Biden and Warren can unite the party. While Biden will be older than Trump, he can reach out to the voters that Obama won twice but Trump got in 2016. Besides, by that time turnout will be the key to success for democrats and these two will get the voters out in record numbers.

  246. Dream on, Mr. Stephens. I predict the Dow will be under 20,000 not above 30,000 by Nov 2020, and depression might be not long coming. The tariff wars will be in full force, devastating everyone including U.S. and China. U.S. will be bombing Iran for a year by then, Israel will be smiling and the world weeps. Trillion dollar deficit will climb toward 2 trillion. The point Mr. Stephen makes that dollar prevails over morality, whether what Christ preaches or the pseudo morality the evangelicals claims will shown to be fools choice.

  247. Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate. As mentioned, only a few states are in play. A savvier, more charismatic Dem candidate can do it. That's pre-Mueller. Post-Mueller, all bets are off.

  248. It’s not often you see an entire NYTimes column used for trolling. (Well, David Brooks does concern trolling all the time, but no matter.) Still, this one only works if you ignore a few things. It assumes Democrats fail to find an effective message. It assumes people will still believe a booming stock market means they’re doing well. It assumes people having their healthcare ripped away will be happy about that, along with all the other safety net slashing. It assumes the economy is going to keep expanding. It assumes Trump keeps his lock on certain states, despite broken promises and bad policies. It assumes the Russian factor is negligible. (What if Putin decides to boost Democrats in a way that sparks an open Civil War?) It assumes Trump doesn’t have a final melt-down or do something even his most fanatical supporters can’t excuse. And... Mueller, Mueller, Mueller....... There’s a few more other things missing from this scenario. It ignores massive GOP gerrymandering, extremist conservative judges, the crippling of voting rights laws, the GOP blocking making our voting systems secure. The odds Trump will get us into a war and/or allow a terrorist attack, either by negligence or intent can’t be ignored either. Trump 2020 isn’t impossible, but it would not be as neat and clean as portrayed here. Like I said - this is an exercise in trolling.

  249. @Larry Roth You all assumed (as did I) that Hillary would win. The Dems don't have a message other than giving away free stuff and fighting over the rights of illegals that and identity politics. That's not an assumption it's the truth. They had better run someone who can actually come up with a message to please everyone. IF they don't this scenario just might come to fruition. And heaven help this country if that happens. We are going to need a miracle.

  250. @Margo Channing I am afraid you have the Fox News view of the Democrats. The truth is different - but Republicans dominate the media. They control all three branches of government - and have spent years discrediting Democratic leaders and policies. Tell me this: if you could have Obama back as president, how would you feel?

  251. Brrrr! Chilling piece as midterms begin to heat up. Hard to consider a Trump second term. I invite your rewrite. Change Democrat candidate, add a sudden outbreak of clarity and conscience on part of Republican members of House and Senate, factor in an alarm clock sounding in ears of citizens who no longer recognize their country -- and conclude with "Mr. Trump, at his concession comments, said he'll be returning to his New York City residence to take up his businesses again and to spend more time with his family."

  252. Fabulous column, Bret -- in both senses of the word. Highly entertaining as a reasonably credible version of our dystopian near future. But also (hopefully) only a fable.

  253. Another OpEd in the Times based on an entertaining argument that promotes the author's pre-existing political bent. Another OpEd that offers no fact-based insight into solving our problems, and no fresh ideas about bringing people together. Another OpEd that plays into the media's obsession with web-traffic, profit, and the author's status in a conflict-based discourse. Useless.

  254. with liberals unwilling to infiltrate red states and oversized influence of those states in the electoral politics, tRump might win reelection. BUT more blue state republican senators will be up for reelection in 2020 so I expect the house and senate to flip to blue and the end of anything that tRump wants done, not even an appointment of a SCOTUS spot.

  255. Mr Stephens, the Dow is not the economy and Main Street and Wall Street commonly have differing interests. Wall Street is a Casino and Main Street gets to pay for Wall Street's excesses. Unless we put a lasso on corporate power our Democracy is lost. Maybe it is time to go back to the old provision that a corporation could not exist beyond the normal lifespan of a human. That means behemoths like Microsoft, Apple, Goldman-Sachs, General Motors, Bank of America, Disney and such would need to liquidate every 75 years or so. It once was the law and could be again.

  256. Bret Stephens gives a cogent explanation for how The Trump will get re-elected. We have prior example: W. Bush got re-elected, after starting the Iraq debacle, giving big tax cuts to the rich and sending a few hundred dollars to the voters! We know that Americans are for instant gratification and a memory power that is clouded with aspirations and not learning from history! With a propaganda machine, as Fox News, aided with a social media, harnessed for evil purposes by President-friendly autocrats like Putin, what Mr. Stephens writes is a real possibility. And they will not remember the Great Recession of 2000, which President Obama brought into some control during his tenure. We’re preparing for another recession post- Trump era, and he will be out on his newly built golf course or an estate either in Russia or North Korea!

  257. It may be presumptuous of me to comment as I live in the UK, but we’ve had our own populist bombshell to deal with in the shape of Brexit. As a liberal my knee jerk reaction is to bemoan the fact that anyone could be so partisan that they could vote for Trump twice. After much reflection here’s my opinion as to why this article may be on the money. I live in the North of England in an economically deprived area. Coal and steel were the big employers here along with agriculture. The first two disappeared towards the end of the 80s and agriculture suffered too. I’d say that’s also a fairly recognisable story in many of the states that contributed to the Trump win. The risk for the future of liberal democracy/centrist model, is that as liberals we often fail to grasp the populist motivation. I know why a majority of people in my region voted to leave and it has little to do with free trade or immigration. Here in the North we have generations who've been ignored by people in power until they want our vote. Elections/Governments/new policies and schemes came and went and nothing changed. Suddenly a populist who's attacking the whole system appears. Bingo! Brexit and Trump: they come from the same wellspring. To push back we have to beat them at their own game by giving those excluded a voice that's heard without having to protest. That means engaging with opinions we may not like, but not being heard is at the root of all that’s happened.

  258. @David best comment of the day!

  259. Not long ago, when having dinner with friends, I asked the often repeated question "What is it that unites Trump voters?" My friend Steve quickly responded it is an attitude: "I'm going to get what's mine." His words have stayed with me: "getting what is mine" may be excusable for those who are desperate, but for the many comfortable and wealthy Americans who voted for Trump, it is a heartbreakingly ugly attitude. But of course, I must not moralize. Unfortunately, we are all going to "get what is theirs" as neoliberal economics throws more and more workers and families to the wolves, and tragically, the planet grows warmer and warmer as we not only refuse to take steps to protect the environment, but even push for greater oil use and more and more production and sales of junk to fill our landfills (and oceans). There is so much more to being human than the economy.

  260. What an incredibly depressing column. I want: Democrats and Independents to vote. I want: Democrats to STOP being a circular firing squad. I want: To reform the Senate--too many states that are mostly cattle and tumbleweeds controlling the will of the MAJORITY of Americans.

  261. One thing Mr. Stephens did not address - Robert Mueller.

  262. @Tom Well, yes he did: "Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters also said they felt vindicated by the conclusions of Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election...."

  263. If I recall correctly, Bret Stephens is a longtime Republican who left his own party because Trump is so appalling and un-American. Instead of telling Democrats that they don't have a message and are too liberal, why doesn't Stephens offer solutions on how his own party, the Republicans, can fix their rotten souls and save their party? I grant you, Democrats could do a better job coming up with branding. But corruption and treason aren't a great selling point, either. Fix your own house, Mr. Stephens.

  264. This piece of nonsense ignores the economic fallout of a trade war, the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, prosecution of violations of the emoluments clause, widespread anger about the loss of health care, the collapse of nuclear negotiations with North Korea and revelations of Trump's secret capitulation to Vladimir Putin.

  265. Whether it turns out to be the economy or the Dems expanding the aggressive pursuit of socially liberal policies that a large portion of Americans are not ready to accept, this - sadly - feels true. We’re right to pursue social change, but it is time to turn down the heat on the culture wars, put regular voter’s pocketbook issues first and win people over giving middle Americans something to vote for instead of against ...

  266. I honestly don't understand the point of this article. If in 2020 we are at peace, the Dow is at 30,000 and unemployment is at 4.1%, yes, Trump will be reelected. Any president would be under those circumstances, no matter who the other party ran or what issues they pushed. That's just how this country works. If, on the other hand, we fall into recession in the next 18 months, he'll be thrown out of office. Elections only get interesting when we're in one of those lukewarm states, and I honestly don't see that being the case in 2020.

  267. With all that good news, voters simply forgot that inflation went up again--after rising steadily since 2018--and government debt as a percent of GDP moved higher than the record set in 1946. In response to demands from deficit hawks, the President again promised further cuts in "welfare" programs for the many full time workers--police, fire, teachers, etc. relying on food stamps, while Canada and Mexico closed their borders to US patients unable to obtain medical care.

  268. Now do the fantasy in which most progressives exist: If only democrats would embrace their inner progressivism, they would win! That last midterm shellacking was because they didn't promote Obama enough. Medicare for all would make Americans flock to their party. Abolishing ICE is a must. Strict immigration enforcement is racist. Their fantasy is reminiscent of the one Obama believed, when he said Americans wouldn't mind paying more for Obamacare because they would be getting so much more.

  269. Dream on. The economy tanks long before then. The Democrats are energized, and the demographics are changing rapidly.

  270. The editors forgot to write that this is first of a series. Now the flip side of this coin is comes next: This is where the economy cannot stand adding $1 trillion a year to the national debt, plus fighting a trade war. Anyway, the Dow Jones? It could reach 40,000 by 2020, but it could also see 10,000. GDP, -3 is just as plausible. It's going to happen, just a matter of time. Now, flip the coin: 50/50? But the final part, the wild card: War. Where? Who knows? We'll see in two weeks. Stay tuned. The Mideast could smolder for another year, or two, or three, but it's going to happen. Or maybe Pakistan and Afghanistan. Maybe Africa. Then think about it. Both these could happen, and then my ne'er do well brother-in-law could win by a landslide -- even if he's a person of color.