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Analysis: How to talk politics this Memorial Day

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 5/25/2019 Amber Phillips

Slideshow by Business Insider

In the Trump era, I can’t remember a social gathering that didn’t eventually turn to politics. So if you’ve got any plans this Memorial Day weekend, plan to talk politics. Here’s a guide to some of the most common questions I get asked:

Who’s going to win the Democratic nomination?

Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke, Peter Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, John Delaney, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, Marianne Williamson, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Seth Moulton, Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Joaquin Castro, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Bill de Blasio posing for a photo: A lot of people are running for president. (REUTERS/File Photo) © Reuters File Photo/Reuters A lot of people are running for president. (REUTERS/File Photo)

I DON’T KNOW. NOBODY KNOWS. You’re allowed to say that, in the equivalent of all-caps, because it’s true.

HOWEVER. Here are three things we can say with certainty about the Democratic field:

  • Former vice president Joe Biden is leading in most polls right now by double-digit percentage points. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is often next, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) ping-ponging each other within the margin of error.
  • There are 23 serious candidates.
  • There are 255 days until the Iowa caucuses, the first state to vote in the nominating process.

What we don’t know outweighs what we do right now: Who will stand out in the debates this June and July and gain traction? Who will voters in early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada — support when voting starts next year? Will anyone stumble and be unable to recover? What openings would that provide to lower-tier candidates?

Okay. But who do you think would do the best against President Trump?

a man in a suit standing in front of a building: Trump debates Hillary Clinton in 2016. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images) © MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images Trump debates Hillary Clinton in 2016. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

This is the question Democratic voters are mulling over right now, according to Washington Post reporting. And there’s no consensus answer, at least not yet. Many are willing to sacrifice the candidate their heart wants for the candidate they think can beat Trump. But could that backfire?

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Amy Walter, a political analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, thinks there could be a divide between who party elites think would be electable and who the rest of the party wants. A new Pew Research survey shows base voters get more excited by minority candidates. So picking a Joe Biden or another moderate, white male, Walter writes, could depress “the very voters Democrats need to turn out if they are going to beat President Trump."

Is Trump going to be impeached?

a close up of a girl: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP) © J. Scott Applewhite/AP Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Maybe. It’s something House Democrats are seriously considering whether to seriously consider. The tipping point for many came Tuesday, when former White House counsel Donald McGahn, a key witness to Trump’s obstruction-y actions as outlined in the Mueller report, ignored a congressional subpoena and didn’t show up to testify. House Democrats have been unable to get a lot of Trump officials to testify about anything.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she doesn’t think Trump is worth the political cost her party might bear if they considered impeaching him. But Congress’s ability to exert itself as a coequal branch of government could be at risk if they don’t act to impeach him.

Is Justin Amash a crack in the dam or a loner?

Justin Amash wearing a suit and tie: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst) © Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

A reader in my live chat on Tuesday posed this smart question to me. To which I answer: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) is pretty well-respected in Congress. But when it comes to impeachment of Trump, he’s definitely on a lonely road in his party, and it’s not clear that will change.

Party leaders have ostracized him for even being open to impeachment. To them, loyalty to Trump is how their party survives. Trump has remade the Republican Party in his image, and many of these lawmakers fear primary challengers if they’re not seen as pro-Trump. (A day after announcing he thinks Trump engaged “in impeachable conduct,” Amash had a primary challenger.) I dig more into how Amash illustrates the tribalism of our times here.

Is anything going to get done by this Congress before 2020?

Donald Trump holding a sign: President Trump in front of a "no collusion, no obstruction" sign berates Democrats this week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) © Evan Vucci/AP President Trump in front of a "no collusion, no obstruction" sign berates Democrats this week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Maybe not. At least not as long as all of the above is going on. One promising area of compromise to rebuild roads, bridges and public transit got tanked this week after Trump walked out of a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders, saying he wouldn’t work on anything until Democrats stop investigating him. (Note: The Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee is also still investigating Trump-Russia connections.)

Democrats may not be sure about impeachment, but they are certain that investigating the executive branch is part of their jobs. (I count 27 questions related to Trump they’re trying to answer in as many as 20 investigations.) So don’t expect much to get done anytime soon.

Sorry to end on a depressing note. Here’s a baby elephant from the San Diego Zoo to start your holiday weekend off:

a baby elephant standing in the dirt: (San Diego Zoo/ (San Diego Zoo/

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