Leslie Marshall: Forget Trump’s tax returns – here’s how we make him a one-term president


Democrats, we need to wake up. To make Donald Trump a one-term president, the focus must be on his policies, not on tax returns or what his campaign is doing.

My fellow Democrats have been a bit obsessed with Trump releasing his tax returns. This desire to get them made its way to the Supreme Court, which delivered a stinging defeat to the president when they ruled he was not “absolutely immune” from criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers. So there is a clearer path for prosecutors in New York who want access to his financial records, but it’s unlikely anything will be revealed before the election.

Granted, he is the only president or major-party presidential nominee since the 1970s who hasn’t released his tax returns. And it’s possible, if they are released, that we will find he pays a very low rate compared to the average working-class American. We might even find that he and his family benefited from his own tax cuts passed three years ago. But unless we learn that he received direct payments from someone like Russian President Vladimir Putin, it’s pretty unlikely he will suffer any political damage.

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Trump’s campaign staff shakeup last week brought more welcome news to some in my party. With his bad poll numbers, he replaced his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, with the veteran GOP operative Bill Stepien. As a strategist, I would look at any campaign replacing its manager as a red flag, a ship that is sinking. But, in 2016, Trump had three campaign managers and managed to win the presidency. He is unlike any other president and his campaign’s style and staffing have also been unlike any other.

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So, Democrats, forget tax returns and campaign staff. The number one goal of all of us on the left, whether progressive or moderate centrist, is what will make Donald Trump a one-term president. Here’s what we need to focus on:

First, we need to use the data in the polling to garner support from voting blocs the president is losing. The latest Gallup poll shows the president is underwater with those who have registered as Independents, a key voting group that could very well decide this next election. Although Joe Biden has the support of the majority of African Americans and Latinos, those are not groups we should take for granted. We need to continue outreach and policy proposals that address the needs of this very powerful and fast-growing segment of our nation and the voting population. Also, in the past month, seniors have soured on the president as a result of his handling, or mishandling, of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also need to look beyond the Oval Office. Remember, if Trump goes down, the Republican majority in the Senate might go down as well. Currently, to win the Senate, Democrats need to net four seats total in November. There are 23 Republican Senate seats up for reelection, and only 12 on the Democratic side.

If Trump is reelected, the Supreme Court could have a 7-2 conservative majority by the end of his second term. 

And Democrats need to pay attention to the issues that matter to voters. Sure, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement are top of mind to voters, but poll after poll shows that voters still worry about health care, a winning issue for Democrats in the latest election cycles.  Trump and his administration continue to try to nullify the Affordable Care Act, which would strip 23.3 million Americans of their health coverage, during a health crisis. For many voters, that is terrifying.

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Another issue Democrats have been successful with in recent elections is income inequality. Do Americans want to see more tax cuts for the wealthy?

There are other issues that many view as “left-leaning” but polls show have the support of a majority of Americans. They want clean air to breathe and clean water to drink and to wash their children in.  If Trump is reelected, we can expect more pollution, not less.

Democrats must also drive the point home a president’s power to nominate Supreme Court justices. If Trump is reelected, the Supreme Court could have a 7-2 conservative majority by the end of his second term.

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Finally, while voters may disagree on climate change or its causes, most Americans are looking to medical professionals and scientists for guidance on the coronavirus. Americans want a leader who will defer to the professionals and believe in science so we can put COVID-19 in our rearview mirror.

Democrats need to remember that voters don’t care who is hired and fired for a politician’s staff or about a president’s tax returns. But they are scared about the uncertainty of this pandemic. They care about issues that directly affect them, their families and their jobs. Democrats must focus on those issues if they truly want to make Donald Trump a one-term president.

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