Dear Tony Blair: It’s Not the Pitch, It’s the Product.

“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair …”

If are devastatingly bad. But the election is months away. A lot can happen.

Trump certainly bears a stylistic resemblance to his British counterparts. He calls his opponents “lying Ted” and “crooked Hillary,” while Farage calls Cameron “Dishonest Dave.” He embarrasses the GOP establishment by saying racist things they’d rather just hint at.

It isn’t working – at least, not yet. Could it? This measurement of anti-immigrant “fear” isn’t perfect (more on its methodology here), but it suggests two things: that there is much greater fear of immigrants in Great Britain than there is in the US, and that this fear is nevertheless unusually high in the US right now.

Democratic complacency would be foolish. Even a Trump defeat would likely be a one-shot affair, based more on his extravagant defects than on Democratic strengths.

Trump’s trade speech this week spoke to people’s pain in a deceptive but surprisingly effective way. Democrats will only damage themselves if they keep supporting NAFTA-like trade deals and other harmful pro-corporate policies, either explicitly or implicitly. Voters understand that these policies played a major role in their current misery.

The New New Democrats

Hillary Clinton broke with Barack Obama by declaring her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the latest bad trade deal. But, thanks to her campaign’s appointees on the platform committee, the Democratic Party’s draft platform does not include language opposing the TPP. Bernie Sanders was told that’s because the party doesn’t want to “embarrass” President Obama.

Know what would really embarrass President Obama? Seeing his party lose the presidency to Donald Trump.

This omission doesn’t make sense – unless Clinton doesn’t really object to the TPP at all. That’s how the public is likely to see it, anyway. A failure to condemn the TPP would seriously wound the party’s chances – up and down the ticket, now and in years to come.

It’s true that Trump would undoubtedly break his economic promises, just as Farage has done. And it’s reassuring to know that Trump’s campaign is being rejected by younger voters, just as Leave’s was. They’re the future, after all.

But young voters also rejected the establishment Democrat in this year’s primary. And this election is happening now, not in some unforged tomorrow.

Tony Blair understands that voters are rejecting the status quo. Democrats risk being seen as the party of the status quo. So far Trump hasn’t sent buses around the country advertising his campaign. But if he plays it smart and the Democrats don’t, he could still take the country for a ride.

 

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