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Presidential Campaigns are Almost Always about the Future. In 2020, the Candidates Cannot Stop Talking about the Past

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tags: 2020 Election



Ever since candidates began to actively campaign for president, there has been generally one unifying theme: what candidates hoped to do in the future.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln ran with the slogan “Vote yourself a farm and horses” to reinforce his support for the Homestead Act, which he signed into law after he won.

The 1908 presidential election featured a choice between “A square deal for all” from William Taft and populist William Jennings Bryan’s “Facing the Future.”

More recently, basically every presidential nominee from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to Mitt Romney used themes of a hopeful future if they were elected. It explains how Barack Obama’s “Forward” 2012 campaign motto evolved into Hillary Clinton’s 2016 version of “Forward Together.”

But one way that the 2020 presidential campaign diverts from the norm is its almost singular focus backward. Rhetoric from both President Trump and challenger Joe Biden is almost entirely about the past.

Trump cannot stop talking about the 2016 presidential election. It comes up in nearly every interview he gives. Biden talks almost entirely about what Trump has done in the past and how he wants to take the country back to the days of the Obama Administration. Remember, Biden still says he was called to run not so much by an aspiration for the future, but by his horror at Trump’s comments on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. Biden isn’t on the stump with a big plan.

Neither is Trump. Consider the ABC News Town Hall with Trump on Tuesday night. Over 90 minutes, Trump offered no vision of what he wanted to do in his second term, beyond a promise that the economy would improve somehow. He didn’t offer a health care plan. He didn’t discuss further tax cuts. He didn’t suggest a new approach for foreign policy or a new trade deal. No comprehensive plan to address climate change and prevent wildfires. He also said he hopes there’s not a race problem in America.

Read entire article at Boston Globe

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