Road Rage 2020: Volume 1 - Election Starting Gun

By Samir Shukla

Line up on the fences folks. Pull up the lawn chairs. Wait for it. Here it goes. The starting gun goes off. Bam. Vroooom…it's off to the races. Well, maybe more like a slow sprint. The engines aren't quite revving yet.

The race for the White House in 2020 is now on. Really on. Of course, it's been bubbling for a while, since the wrap of 2018 mid-term elections and now Democrats are lining up and announcing their candidacies. Elizabeth Warren was the first out the gate and now old favorite Bernie Sanders has thrown his hat into the ring, along with other senators, congress folks and a few oddballs. Joe Biden may give it a go, as well. Sanders will be formidable. If Biden runs, he will be formidable. Of course the newbies and fresh faces are elbowing each other, trying to create a narrative for their candidacies while taking hard left turns of varying degrees on policies and ideology.

Democrats have started raising funds, holding townhalls, and begun visiting the early caucus and primary states. Here we are in the swivel month of March, the juncture between chills of winter and the warm promises of spring, and the political battles are being drawn. Electioneering has begun slowly and will invariably pick up speed.

Most candidates are working to turn the Democratic Party further left. This will galvanize hard progressives while turn off moderates. For all the talk of revolution and massive policy initiatives, incremental changes have always worked better. Yes, all ye youngsters ready to light the world on fire - social, economic and political changes take hold when done in a steady, calculated manner. That's just the way it is. Revolutions have a tendency to burn out rather quickly.

Some Republicans are not quite sure of the finality of Trump's candidacy. Trump has never stopped campaigning and is, of course, confident he will be the Republican nominee. He is itching for the fight against the Democratic nominee, but it's not a sure bet that Trump will be the nominee. I would not write off a strong primary challenger to Trump in the sodden and scarred Republican fields.

Here's the basic gist. Like it or not, voters will fall into percentage camps come Election Day. About 40 percent of voters will vote for the Democrat no matter who it is. Another 40 percent or so will vote for Donald Trump, barring storms, damning revelations that sideline him, or a strong primary challenger perseveres. The point is that about 40 percent will vote for the Republican nominee.

Even in our bloodied fields of partisan wars, it is still about swaying the middle camp when it comes to the general election. Sure, both parties will caress and fuel their bases during the primaries, but once pieces fall into place, victorious candidates, yes even Trump, will do a two-step toward the center for the general election.

The midterm elections offered a message massage to both parties. The democrats feel a bit more limber with the House in their corner. The Republicans feel a little less tightness in the upper neck holding on to the Senate. Both parties received voter massages they now spin in their favor.

Here's a suggestion. It's time to loosen personal ideologies. I know that's like asking many people to stop breathing. That's alright. The American Republic needs sober voices of reason to persevere. I really couldn't care less about conservative, liberal, progressive, neoliberal, neoconservative, democratic socialist, socialist, libertarian, or any other label.

I'm a proud LibConProgertarian (Lib-con-progur-tarian). A Libertarian on Mondays, Conservative on Tuesdays, Progressive on Wednesdays, and a vegetarian all seven.

Seriously, though, ideological labels only feed tribal urges. They are simply labels that mean nothing in a globally-connected, vastly diverse population of the country. Most people are a combination of both, really, multiple ideologies, but somehow refuse to acknowledge that.

I know social progressives who are fiscally conservative, I know fiscal conservatives who are very socially progressive. Libertarians can really be the strong third party that we need, but they can't get past hyper-individualism and Ayn Rand-spewed nonsense. We are a community, no matter how you try to slice it up. I am an independent individual who can be that way because of the support of family, friends, and the larger community. It takes all to run a vibrant, peaceful, opportunity-giving neighborhood, town, school, county, state, country.

I'm convinced we are not that divided. On the surface, yes, it sure as hell looks like the country is torn apart with divisions, especially in political sphere. Sure, there's plenty evidence of regionalism, red states and blue states, states of fear and hate, a nagging discomfort over the direction of the country. The bane of our generation, social media, feeds these tribal beasts. The reality is that most Americans are reasoned and good folks. Outside obvious extremists, even those who lean hard left or hard right are essentially seeking to do well.

The reasoned majority will preserve America. They are not angry, they are exhausted. They understand differences and want logical, workable solutions. People understand that income disparities exist, subtle to overt racism and other isms exist, that getting an education and seeking health care shouldn't make one bankrupt. But they don't want to blow stuff up either, or build walls, they want to build bridges. The reasoned majority must toil harder to keep the partisans from stealing the national conversation.

In the meantime, all hail the fact checkers and those who make an effort to put the fire of truth under those who make spurious claims. Politicians, spokespersons, media, journalists, social media hacks, all benefit from the vigilance of truth.

I will dissect the madness of American political shenanigans on a regular basis while we proceed onward with Road Rage 2020. Pull up a chair and join me.


Samir Shukla is the editor of Saathee magazine. Contact -