HOUSTON—Overhead, the little red plane with the white stripe went around and around, circling and droning, circling and droning—impossible to ignore, pointless to pay attention to. It was a stunt, and by this mention alone, the Trump campaign may feel it got a return on its investment, reportedly $7,500. SOCIALISM WILL KILL HOUSTON’S ECONOMY! VOTE TRUMP 2020 read the big blue banner trailing the plane, for anyone who looked up.
Down below last night, the 10 leading Democratic presidential candidates were onstage arguing over the details of their grand plans for health insurance, gun control, and combatting climate change—justifying and explaining their proposals in a way the president has rarely done.
In presidential-primary debates, Republicans are typically asked what they’re going to do. Democrats are asked that too—plus questions about how they’re going to do it. There’s a small-c conservative sensibility underlying that approach from many in the political media, an assumption that the country doesn’t want or isn’t prepared to handle significant change, because Congress hasn’t made that change already—despite what favorable public polling may suggest about some of the Democrats’ biggest proposals. Reporters often adopt the voice of a hypothetical centrist voter who’s inherently skeptical of just how far to the left the Democratic Party has moved. This mentality drives professional Democrats nuts: “I always say, the status quo is the strongest lobbyist in D.C.,” Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, who was in town to endorse and promote Senator Kamala Harris of California, told me after the debate.