lot of Republicans still believe in the power of competition. A poll in No- vember indicated that 40 percent of them, and 72 percent of all Ameri- cans, would like to see President DonaldTrump face a primary chal- lenge. But Republican politicians, even those who have strong objections toTrump, have been inhibited by the conventional wisdom that running against Trump in the 2020 Re- publican primaries would be a suicide mis- sion. Trump is in a very strong position for renomination, as I have written in this space before. An anti-Trump conservative named Andy Smarick has recently argued, however, that the risks of challenging Trump are greatly overestimated. He contends that an ambitious Republican could do himself a world of good by running against President Trump for the nomination in 2020. That can- didate, Smarick allows, would probably lose. But he would establish himself (or, in the less likely case, she would establish herself) as a top contender for the leadership of a post- Trump party, either in 2020 if Trump lost the general election or 2024 if he won. The chal- lenger would also give a boost to the influ- ence of his ideas within the party. By sharply criticizing the president in an commentary publishedTuesday inThe Washington Post, Mitt Romney has reopened the question of whether Trump will have a rival for the nomination. So it's worth consid- ering Smarick's case. He writes, "Recall: Ted Kennedy chal- lenged Carter, lost, then continued to be a Dem leader for years. Reagan challenged Ford, lost, and was president next time around." Kennedy may not be a good exam- ple for the point Smarick is making: As the word "continued" suggests, Kennedy was al- ready a leading Democrat, thanks largely to his last name, before that 1980 challenge. I would defer to others who were paying closer attention to politics than I was at the time, but my sense is that the 1980 run detracted from rather than enhanced his reputation: A disastrous interviewwith Roger Mudd stuck to him, and some Democrats blamed him for softening up Jimmy Carter before the general election. Leaving that aside, there's a reason Smar- ick has to ask us to recall such primary chal- lengers: Serious primary campaigns against the renomination of a sitting president have gotten rarer. The last one was Patrick Buchanan's challenge to George Bush in 1992, and even that campaign was only somewhat serious: It posed a threat of harm- ing the incumbent president, not really of denying him the nomination. The next most recent example? Kennedy. Why don't incumbent presidents draw se- rious primary challengers anymore? I suspect the answer has to do with two related trends: the increased ideological uniformity of the parties and the rise of negative partisanship. Just as some Democrats blamed Kennedy for Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980, some Republicans blamed Buchanan for Bill Clin- ton's in 1992. But the number of voters who consider the risk of throwing an election to the other side intolerable has almost cer- tainly risen, and by a lot. (The rising power of the presidency has probably played a role in the perception of increased risk.) It's unsur- prising that in the poll about a 2020 primary against Trump, Democrats were more eager to see it than Republicans were. If an anti-Trump Republican runs for the nomination, loses it, andTrump then loses in November 2020, the blowback against the challenger will be more intense: He will be blamed for helping give the nation President Kamala Harris (or whoever). If the candidate runs and thenTrump wins the general elec- tion, a lot of Republicans will view him as the guy who acted as Harris's useful idiot. De- stroying the challenger's political future will also be, we can be fairly confident, a high pri- ority for the re-elected president. It may be that partisans are wrong to be so concerned about the damage that a vigorous primary can do to a party's chances of win- ning the general election. It seems pretty likely that Reagan would have beaten Carter in 1980 without Kennedy, and that Clinton would have beaten Bush in 1992 without Buchanan. A paradox may be at work here: Negative partisanshipmakes voters reluctant to back primary challenges against incumbent presi- dents, but alsomeans the challenges cannot have the impact they fear. A very strong pri- mary-season opposition toTrump did not keep him fromwinning the votes of most Re- publicans in November 2016. -B LOOMBERG News India Times January 11, 2019 2 Opinion A W e've gotten used to a certain style of presidential primary campaign. A leader or "favorite" stakes out an apparent advantage and then one challenger (e.g. Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016) or a series of them (e.g. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul in 2012) battle to dislodge himor her. In the binary matchups, negative ads, opposition research dumps and supposed gaffes (a game changer! a fatal error!) play outsize roles in the race. However, with a field of 20 or more, with no clear front-runner for months or possibly a year, it's hard to knock out your opponents by resorting to these fa- miliar tricks. What then could we expect in a Demo- cratic field with 20 or so contenders? First, the candidates might actually have to define themselves in positive ways. You can't run oppo attacks on the 19 or so other contenders. Each candidate has to explain why he or she is different and better than the rest. That means talking in a positive way about their visions for the country and their talents.We might, in other words, wind up with a more positive and revealing cam- paign. Candidates who can present them- selves as experts on some issues (e.g. Michael Bloomberg on climate change and guns) can have an outsize impact on the race, forcing candidates to address the issues in a credible way and keeping the issues front and center at the debates. If every candidate has to fig- ure out whether he or she can be as credible as Bloomberg on climate change and guns, as Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on work and unions, as Sen. ElizabethWarren, D-Mass., on financial reform, etc., the quality of the debate might be higher than in the usual presidential race. Second, the mainstreammedia, shamed from 2016, is unlikely to rule out long-shot candidates. There will be stronger and weaker ones, candidates with funding and those operating on a shoestring, but who's to say that any specific contender "can't win"? Less horse-race coverage (which is harder with a zillion candidates all bunched up) would be a blessing. Third, it will be hard for candidates to sur- vive on free TV as President Trump did in 2016.With noTV celebrity (at least not yet) and somany candidates in the race, TV news producers will find it hard to justify giving what amounts to an openmic to one or two candidates.With somany candidates, carry- ing any of the rallies live will be problematic - at least until the field narrows considerably. Fourth, the ideological labels and postur- ing become somewhat meaningless among those clearly identified as progressives. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., is not more progressive than Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in any meaningful way. EvenWarren's voting record will be much the same as other contenders from the Senate (yes on saving Obamacare, no onTrump's tax cuts, no on weakening Dodd-Frank). Simply slapping a label on the other guys or picking out one for yourself will be of little utility. That doesn't mean there aren't critical differences on foreign policy, taxes and the rest; it simply means that can- didates will have to domore than say, "I'm from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Fifth, candidates will have little incentive to drop out to narrow the field. In the era of online fundraising and billionaire donors, most candidates directly or indirectly via soft money will have enough to keep them going for just about as long as they'd like. In a pri- mary race where delegates are awarded pro- portionally, the race might go on for a good long time. That really will test the eventual winner and also provide Democrats with the chance to expand their electorate and keep more voters engaged. Sixth, Democratic primary voters are des- perate for a winner. As they meet the candi- dates, watch themon the debate stage and learn about their record, they really are going to ask themselves which one can take down Trump. Look for the search for "gravitas" and someone who can be more presidential than the actual president. "Electability" is derided by true believers and party activists, but choosing someone who is not temperamen- tally equipped to take onTrump is a luxury that Democrats don't have. -T HE W ASHINGTON P OST SixBenefitsOf ABigDemocratic PrimaryField Published weekly, Founded in 1975. The views expressed on the opinion pages are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of News IndiaTimes. Copyright © 2017, News IndiaTimes News IndiaTimes (ISSN 0199-901X) is published every Friday by ParikhWorldwide Media LLC., 35 Journal Square, Suite 204, Jersey City, NJ 07306 Periodicals postage paid at Newark, N.J. , and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address change to News IndiaTimes, 35 Journal Square, Suite 204, Jersey City, NJ 07306 Annual Subscription: United States: $28 Dr. Sudhir M. 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