Something Elizabeth Warren may not have a plan for (Opinion)

But Warren and other Democrats will also need another set of plans — for how to campaign against President Trump in 2020 on the perilous election playing field that they will face. If being “electable” is the top priority for Democrats, then voters should be hearing more about the political strategy of each candidate, not just their policies.

With Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, this won’t be an ordinary election. As Hillary Clinton learned in 2016 — when, for example, Republican delegates were encouraged by convention speakers in chanting “Lock Her Up! — the old rules no longer apply.

In any presidential campaign, a main objective for each party is to influence the media narrative. The goal is to shift the conversation among producers, editors, and reporters toward issues that are favorable to their campaign. Whoever the Democratic nominee is, this will be an immense challenge. The President has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to use Twitter and campaign rallies to throw the media into a frenzy over his latest outrage or controversial statement. If Democrats want to keep issues like health care or inequality front and center, they will need to have a plan for counteracting Trump’s uncanny ability to send the news cycle down a rabbit hole debate about the latest thing that he has done.

What’s the plan for dealing with social media disinformation?

By all accounts the social disinformation campaign that we will see in 2020 will make the last election look like child’s play. The President has already raised a campaign war chest to finance social media operations on Facebook, Twitter, and more. The Democratic candidate will have to survive an onslaught of divisive videos, memes and stories as well as outright falsehoods circulating in the online public square. These efforts will be compounded by third party operations, as well as overseas governments seeking to interfere in the election. When the President retweeted an altered video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made it appear as if she was inebriated, he offered just a small preview of what’s to come.

What’s the plan for surviving reality show debates?

The fall debates, assuming that they take place and the President agrees to participate, could well be uglier than a hard core professional wrestling match. Trump will turn each debate into a piece of reality show television. He might convene pre-debate press conferences with guests who are politically damaging to his opponent, as he did in 2016. He will physically hover around his opponent as they speak and blast them with insults, and he will make it literally impossible to sustain any kind of conversation about public policy. The President will lie and twist the truth without remorse. Julian Castro’s barbs against Joe Biden last Thursday will seem innocuous by comparison. For any Democrat, it will feel like the longest hours of their lives, with cameras trained on them as they try to make it through without losing their composure.

What’s the plan for confronting investigations?

Unlike in 2016, this time around Trump has the power of the presidency behind him. With that power comes the potential for the administration to unleash damaging investigations in the middle of the campaign that will put the Democrats on defense. Already there have been hints of where the administration might go should Biden be the nominee, with stories about Rudy Giuliani urging investigation into conflict of interest allegations about Hunter Biden while Joe Biden was Vice President.

Joe Biden has denied the allegations and numerous reporters have shot down the existing claims. When running against Hillary Clinton, candidate Trump capitalized on an email investigation by the FBI over which he had no control. Now he is President — with immense power — and it is fair to speculate that he will use it to improve his odds for victory.

Too often, the discussions about the rival candidates revolve around early poll numbers and memories of how elections worked in the past. This won’t be the case come next fall, and Democrats won’t have any excuse to say at that point,”I can’t believe this is happening!”

The kind of politics that Democrats will confront are now perfectly clear, and the party needs to give much more serious thought to the question of which of the candidates will be best suited to sell their message and mobilize voters in our new dystopian political world.

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