Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) first came to Congress in 2012 after defeating a powerful Democrat incumbent, Pete Stark, to claim the seat representing the Golden State’s 15th district. The best thing that ever happened to Swalwell was the election of President Donald Trump. In the 14 months since Trump took office, the 38-year-old Iowa native has become a leading peddler of the Russian collusion conspiracy theory – suggesting that the president may be an actual Russian asset without offering any evidence to support the claim.
Swalwell is now a prolific television pontificator. Indeed, the only politician able to beat Swalwell to the nearest camera is his fellow California Democrat Adam Schiff. Why is Swalwell running for president? Who knows?
The Struggle to Establish a Platform
Successful candidates for any public office have a platform that distinguishes them – at least in some way – from their competitors. That is not a tough prospect when running against a member of another party, but in a primary contest when one is up against candidates from one’s own party, it can be a more daunting prospect.
There are only so many issues to go around. For the 147 Democrats now running for the White House in 2020 – officially numbered at 16 currently, but who knows how many more will try their luck? – the campaign-issue situation is beginning to resemble a flock of pigeons going after a handful of breadcrumbs in the park. The contenders are chasing the same crumbs: health care, immigration, the environment, equality (whatever that means), and generally groveling to any demographic that does not include straight white Christians.
Most of the candidates are campaigning on slightly different versions of the same platform, which could be summed up as a general advancement of socialist economic policies with a heavy dose of social justice virtue-signaling. Swalwell is already slightly late to the party, and most of the breadcrumbs have already been gobbled up or picked apart. Though his ideas are no different from those of his Democratic colleagues, Swalwell decided to nab an issue that would give his campaign a different focal point.
Gun Control, Eric? Really?
Despite what Democrats would like to believe, gun control is not a winning issue, but, in his finite wisdom, Swalwell has decided to launch his bid for the Democratic nomination on that very topic. In a campaign video, Swalwell blows all the usual left-wing dog whistles: health care, “climate chaos” (yes, that is the expression he uses), Donald Trump’s “bullsh*t” (that word also is Swalwell’s), and his belief that “we should take the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous people.”
This seemingly bold and rational statement on gun control, however, has two basic flaws: Swalwell claims to have grown up hunting and shooting guns on the range, but either he has little understanding of firearms or he is being deliberately vague. There is simply no way to define “the most dangerous weapons,” since the degree of danger posed by any firearm – be it a small-caliber pistol, a shotgun, an AR-15, or a heavy machine-gun – is entirely dependent on whose hands hold the firearm.
As for preventing “the most dangerous people” from obtaining firearms, it is worth pointing out that most Democratic politicians see conservatives and libertarians as the most dangerous people – particularly if they are white males. In other words, let us disarm our political foes first, which is what gun control is largely all about.
Democrats like Swalwell talk about expanding background checks and making it more difficult for people they consider dangerous to own and carry guns, but they have never acknowledged the existing problems with the background check system for firearms purchases. Most of the worst mass shootings in the United States have been perpetrated by individuals who would never have been able to buy guns legally in the first place, had their past legal and behavioral issues been addressed and correctly reported.
Keeping firearms out of the hands of those who are actually a danger to the public could be done if just a few of the current firearms regulations were more efficiently enforced. Swalwell has never tackled that issue, but he would jump at the opportunity to introduce an avalanche of additional laws.
It’s All About The Trump
What is Swalwell really campaigning on, though? What does he bring to the table? Surely not gun control, since that is not an issue that fires up Democrat voters enough to take the White House – or even the presidential nomination. To this day, Swalwell insists that the current president could be a Russian agent. He has never provided a shred of evidence to support that belief. He is among Trump’s most vocal critics.
This relatively young former prosecutor is hopelessly unable to mount a rational and fact-based assault on Trump’s policies or achievements, however. Swalwell’s entire opposition to the president is personal. Of all the Democrats running for the chance to challenge the president in 2020, Swalwell is the most anti-Trump, and that is his real platform. Even in this climate of extreme political animus and polarization, a campaign based purely upon hatred of the incumbent is not enough to propel any challenger to victory.
There is probably as much chance of Swalwell becoming the Democratic Party nominee as there is of him producing that evidence that Trump is working for the Russians.