With President Donald Trump depicted by the media and pollsters as the unquestioned underdog in the 2020 election, this presidential race is increasingly bearing a remarkable resemblance to the political landscape surrounding the historic election of 2016. Despite taking a slim lead now for the first time in this race, according to Rasmussen, the mainstream polls have reflected a bleak electoral outlook for Trump in these waning days of the race strikingly similar to the one they predicted four years ago. Stories of his defeat have all but been pre-written. And Democrats are ready to storm the White House to start measuring the drapes.
If this sounds like a rerun of the same movie, perhaps it is because of another striking similarity between 2016 and 2020: Trump’s opponent.
Yes, Joe Biden is of a different gender, more cognitively compromised, less shrill, and more somnambulistic than Hillary Clinton. Perhaps he has surpassed Hillary’s record low bar on favorability. But on the things that matter most — their establishment roots, worldview, prevailing ideology, and, yes, the stain of thinly veiled influence-peddling and official corruption — ol’ Joe and Hillary are virtual carbon copies.
When Hillary received a congressional subpoena to hand over her controversial email accounts in 2015, she proceeded to delete some 33,000 emails and then physically destroy multiple devices that might have contained the remnants. Who else could get away with such unlawful destruction of evidence and obstruction of justice? The media paid attention to the story, and the stench of corruption that surrounded the 2016 Democratic nominee certainly contributed to her ignominious defeat. It didn’t help that the Clintons’ charitable foundation raised hundreds of millions of dollars around the world, when it was clear that Hillary would soon be running for president.
This time around, there is mounting and increasingly irrefutable evidence that Trump’s 2020 opponent used his own son as a de facto bagman for the “big guy” and stood by innocently as his entire family cut business deals in Russia, China, Ukraine, and elsewhere, and he raked hefty sums off the top while he was serving as vice president. Does this not feel like another branch of the same tree? Like Hillary, Biden knew better than to personally take any money directly from foreign interests. But anyone born on a day ending in the letter y understands how the game is played: build in plausible deniability by having others do the dirty work of direct profiteering, then sit back and watch your bank account swell.
Sadly, the saga of these two candidates cut from the same cloth tells a larger tale: that such corruption, far from being the exception or an outlier, is widespread among career politicians who settle into the Swamp and ultimately leave office far better off than when they arrived. Put another way, they come to the nation’s capital ostensibly to do good and instead do well. This fact was a driving force behind the historic victory of the first presidential candidate who could credibly claim — and later prove — that he was a true outsider, unbeholden to the deep-rooted money-changers holding the levers of power in Washington. These Swamp-dwellers — from hardened leftists to petty Never-Trumpers addled by this president’s ability to achieve what they never could — are the people who for almost four years have proven they will stop at nothing to take down the man who poses an unprecedented threat to their death grip on the reins of power.
Hillary called half of Trump supporters deplorables and irredeemable. Biden has cashed in on a public health crisis, saying Trump is personally responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 people. Both have cavalierly attached the despicable label of racist to the president. Just as bad, despite his full exoneration following one of the most exhaustive investigations ever conducted by a special counsel, both have claimed he is essentially a Manchurian candidate controlled by Russia. The relentless ad hominem attacks by Biden and Clinton on this president are barely distinguishable from one another.
Though this year’s Democratic standard-bearer finds himself under even more pressure from an emboldened left than the 2016 nominee, there is little that separates the Biden agenda from that of Hillary. Both share a voracious appetite for raising taxes, increasing regulation, commencing a “transition from the oil industry” if not a Green New Deal, cashiering gun rights, embracing/re-entering the Iran nuclear deal and Paris Climate Accord, and — based on their lengthy records of appeasement — allowing China to grow ever stronger. Hillary has even embraced Biden’s dark, heavy-handed national mask policies. In sum, both are products of the same self-enriching, bureaucratically laden, command-and-control deep state that held unchallenged control of Washington for decades, until the arrival of Trump. For Biden to win, voters must reverse their verdict of 2016, when they rejected not just a candidate or party but an entrenched political culture so distant, unresponsive, and unaccountable that they were willing to roll the dice on the ultimate longshot: a wildcard named Trump.
The media wing of the Democratic Party is essentially channeling that famed song by The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” With the media’s blackout of the Biden corruption story, they have demonstrated their vow to never again grant attention to legitimate stories which could contribute to a replay of the horror they feel so guilty about enabling the last time around. The Fourth Estate has, since that fateful day of Nov. 8, 2016, engaged in various forms of self-flagellation, both for selling out to the ratings gods by providing Trump countless hours of free coverage during his insurgent campaign and failing to ignore the Clinton email story. Elite journalists throughout the 2020 campaign have made clear that they would rather sacrifice any remaining shred of credibility than contribute to another defeat of their preferred candidate, especially when it means a fate worse than death: another four years of the evil Orange Man, regularly labeling them the fake news media.
For better or worse, Trump has delivered on much of what he so audaciously promised four years ago. That means the stakes are even higher for Democrats and a deep state still in denial, appalled and incredulous that Trump not only won the election but actually meant what he said in 2016. It means they will not again make the mistake of believing the American people could not possibly elect a man like Trump. But it certainly does not mean there is any more than a dime’s worth of difference between his enemies’ twin messengers, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
Read more from Tim Donner.