Who’s the Best Hope for Beating Trump in 2020?
January 21, 2017

Donald Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United Stated and it’s never too early to start thinking about how best to remove a person from power, even if they’ve barely begun to exercise that power. In the case of Trump, there’s no reason to suspect that he’s going to reduce the power of the state, so it’s worth taking a look at who might try to replace him in four years.

It’s entirely possible that Trump will face a primary opponent from the establishment wing of the Republican Party in 2020. I don’t expect Mitt Romney to run again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jeb Bush try his hand at another thrashing at the hands of the Donald. The establishment in general, and Jeb and the rest of the Bushes in particular, won’t soon forget being embarrassed by Trump during the 2016 Republican primary, and there are still vestiges of the Never Trump “movement” trying to undermine him. These people refuse to accept that younger Republicans and Americans in general want nothing to do with them. They’ve been irrelevant since shortly after George W. Bush’s re-election, and that’s why Obama and Trump were able to crush them so easily.

From the less-establishment wing of the Republican Party, it seems a possibility that Senator Ted Cruz could once again try to take Trump down in 2020, as he’s almost certain to run again at some point. Despite betraying his so-called principles at the last moment and endorsing Trump late in the game in 2016, there’s no question that Cruz is no fan of the man who insinuated that his father may have had a hand in murdering JFK and who indirectly called his wife ugly. I expect that Cruz would make a better run of it against Trump in 2020 than a more establishment friendly candidate, but I’m going to try to stay out of the prediction game in the future.

It seems a foregone conclusion to me that Senator Rand Paul will inevitably run for president again at some point. I don’t actually expect him to mount a primary bid against Trump in 2020, but it’s not impossible. He’s so far been a consistent critic of many of Trump’s alleged picks for Secretary of State, and if he’s smart he’ll remain a Republican thorn in Trump’s side throughout his term. Rand’s 2016 run was unremarkable due to his strategy of trying to make himself seem more palatable to the establishment in a year when people were demanding an anti-establishment candidate. It must hurt Rand’s ego a bit that his father, former Congressman Ron Paul, was more successful in the 2016 election, in which he did not even run a campaign, than Rand himself was by winning a single electoral vote. If Rand hopes to run against Trump in 2020 he needs to convince his father’s supporters, people like me, that he actually does have some principles, and he needs to start establishing himself as the anti-establishment anti-Trump right now. It seems that that’s how he’s trying to position himself, but it’s still too early to tell.

The person who, at least right now, I’m most interested in seeing challenge Trump in 2020 is Congressman Justin Amash. Despite endorsing Rand Paul and then Ted Cruz in 2016, Amash’s record during his several terms in the U.S. House of Representatives has been exemplary. He’s a principled non-interventionist who wants to cut government spending and taxes, has yet to miss a vote in the House, and explains why he votes the way he does on his Facebook and Twitter pages to be more accessible to his constituents. I haven’t voted since the 2012 Republican primary, when I voted for Ron Paul, but I can safely say that I would absolutely be willing to vote for Amash when and if he runs. If, however, Amash changes for the worse then he’ll lose my vote and I’ll happily criticize him at every turn.

On the other hand, perhaps we should look to the Democratic Party for the hope of getting Trump out of office in 2020. While it doesn’t seem very hopeful right now with the Clintonistas still essentially running the show, it’s not impossible for an outsider to come out of nowhere and win the nomination like Obama did in 2008 and Trump did in the GOP in 2016.

There’s always the possibility that Hillary Clinton will run again in 2020 despite losing to two upstart candidates on two separate occasions. Despite this, neither Clinton nor her Democratic Party backers have engaged in any self-reflection on why she has been so soundly rejected by the American people, instead engaging in conspiracy theories about Russian hacking and blaming everyone from Bernie Sanders, who refused to run an effective campaign against her on the likely basis that he expected her to be the nominee and didn’t want to damage her for the general election, to the FBI. Nominating Clinton again in 2020 would be a disaster for the Democratic Party, because, even if she managed to beat Trump the second time around, it would be a step backwards rather than a step forward.

I don’t think that this will happen, but Bernie Sanders could seek the Democratic nomination again, and maybe even be a favorite to win it. The enthusiastic base of support he brought together in 2016 would almost certainly be sitting there waiting for him in 2020 just as Ron Paul’s 2008 base was when he ran again in 2012. Polls consistently showed Bernie doing better against all of the possible Republican nominees, including Trump, than Hillary in 2016, and it’s easy to argue that after her crushing loss Sanders is the current face of the Democratic Party. Momentum from 2016 could easily push him to the nomination and even the presidency in 2020.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of Hillary’s most useful attack dogs against Trump during the 2016 election, is perhaps the favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2020 at this point. Like Hillary, Warren is a woman, but unlike Hillary she does not have a history of being one of the most corrupt, two-faced operators in American politics. She will unlikely be under investigation by the FBI in 2020 as Hillary was in 2016. Furthermore, she is much closer to Bernie Sanders on issues important to younger progressives than Hillary is, and would be able to reach out to his supporters with much more credibility.

Then again, there’s another woman in the Democratic Party who’s less well-known, but might be able to upset the establishment, and that’s Representative Tulsi Gabbard. She seems to be close enough to Bernie Sanders on social and economic issues that she could pull in his supporters, but she’s also an Iraq War veteran and staunchly antiwar. This would distinguish her in a field that included Clinton, Warren, and Sanders. Furthermore, the identity-politics obsessed Democratic Party might not be able to resist a chance at electing the first woman president and the first Hindu president at the same time. I would certainly be cheering Gabbard in the Democratic primary given her antiwar stance, and possibly even in the general. I don’t know that I’d actually be able to vote for her, but I would consider it since I consider foreign policy to be the most important issue by far.

The 2008 and 2012 campaigns of Congressman Ron Paul and the 2016 campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders shows that younger voters, whether on the left or the right, are interested in a more peaceful foreign policy, and representatives Justin Amash and Tulsi Gabbard could easily tap into that within their respective parties. I don’t know if that will be enough to beat Trump in four years, but it’s something to hope for.