As a part-time historian, I am acutely aware of the pitfalls of mis-applied historical analogies. They lead too often to fighting the last war. 2020 is not 2016. It's also not 2008 or 2000 or anything that has ever happened before. Because Trump. And because it's 2020.
New media, new demographics, new foreign interference, new issues. Watersheds happen. Change happens. And that means the political leaders/candidates who succeed will be the ones who understand all that, respond to it, lead it. The New Dem formula for 1992 is not applicable.
Nor is the Obama formula for 2008. Nor is the Trump formula for 2016. Because the president is hugely historically unpopular. Because we face an existential crisis in American democracy. Because social divisions have deepened. Because old promises have been revealed to be lies.
This doesn't mean the rules of political physics have been revoked. The winning presidential candidate still needs to mobilize a majority and win the electoral vote. But it won't be the same as past majorities. There are multiple formulas that could work.
Which is just a way of saying, keep an open mind. Don't fall for old formulations. Don't be trapped into old behaviors. Neither Trump nor Obama did. That's the lesson to take away. Look for the candidate who best understands, adapts to, leads the zeitgeist.
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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