Michael Avenatti was never going to be president. The Avenatti boomlet, which began in August, lasted for a little less than three months, until the attorney officially took himself out of the running on Tuesday, citing concerns about his family.
Avenatti made a name for himself representing the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whom President Donald Trump paid during the closing months of the 2016 campaign to keep quiet about an alleged affair a few years earlier. Avenatti has a telegenic presence, and he satisfied a need among angry liberals for a champion who was as nasty to the president as the president is to, well, almost everyone.
“I believe our party must fight fire with fire,” Avenatti told a crowd at a Democratic event in Iowa in August. “When they go low, I say we hit harder.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that Avenatti, who has never held elected office, made a good or appealing presidential candidate. Avenatti was arrested on domestic-violence charges in November, and his declaration that the next Democratic presidential nominee “better be a white male” raised eyebrows, to say the least. Although numerous pundits speculated that Avenatti would become the Democrats’ version of Trump, this assessment misunderstands the nature of the two major parties. Trump emerged from a crowded GOP presidential field because of his expressions of public loathing against demographic groups that conservatives fear and his promises to use the power of the state against them. But the Democratic Party is simply too reliant on a base that is both ideologically and ethnically diverse to support a candidate who is a negative image of Trump. It is not that Democrats are more virtuous. It is that the Democratic Party’s viability rests on too many different types of people to run campaigns that rely entirely on promises to crush the other side.