Thursday, April 25, 2019

The 2020 Democratic Presidential Sweepstakes, Early Edition

(There was a “surprise” announcement this morning. I'm saving that for latter in the post.)

It was all about the Republican Clown Car in 2016. Then the biggest clown came out on top and the fun went out of it very quickly. The big danger sign for me was Brexit. It was obvious to anyone with a globe that most of the world had already gone crazy. Then Britain joined the crazy list and I figured that if they could ignore their best interest and leap at a dangerous delusion, well, so could the United States. And we did.

This time around it's the Democrats who have the long laundry list of potential candidates. Eighteen or twenty as we speak, with more peeking out from behind the curtains. They seem to lack the comedic value of the 2016 Republicans, but maybe that's just because we don't know a single thing about nine or ten of them, and precious little more about most of the rest.

Two things jump right out when one considers the Democratic candidates: we've never heard of most of them, and almost all of them display some characteristic that American voters will probably find objectionable.

Let's get the unknowns out of the way. That would be Eric Swalwell, Tim Ryan, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Wayne Messam, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang. Nobody knows these people from a hole in the wall, and so far they have gotten close to zero traction. Not that a couple of them aren't very interesting. Tulsi Gabbard is House Rep from Hawaii. She is also a Samoan-American Hindu who is vocally pro-weed. She's young and pretty, too. That's almost as interesting as you can get. She says that she has “evolved” since making frequent anti-gay statements early in her career.

Andrew Yang is another interesting character. He is a former tech executive and New York entrepreneur. He is the son of immigrants from Taiwan, and he is as progressive as anybody. He's for the universal basic income and Medicare for all, and he believes that what we really need is a more humane capitalism. He's a smart guy, and he is a better extemporaneous speaker than most. I've seen him on TV, but I'm leaving him with the unknowns. He's very young, and he's never held public office, so I don't think we'll have to worry about him making it very far. I think that he just wants the platform to be heard.

I don't understand the Democrats at all. I've written about it here: I wonder if they have even tried to win since 1968 or 1972. They put forward candidates seemingly chosen on the basis of their failure to appeal to the voting public. Take Michael Dukakis, please. It's the same this year.

What have we learned through the last three election cycles? The clear lesson is that the presidency is still to be considered a white man's job. I do not approve of this situation, and I long for the day that candidates will be chosen strictly on the basis of the good that they can do for the country. We live, however, in early 21st Century America, not in some wonderful, future Shangri La. We have seen the vicious backlash against the presidency of Barack Obama, whom I have often flattered in these pages. We have seen the way poor Hillary's bones were picked over for any little thing to complain about. We have seen their presence in the political arena result in the election of the worst white man in the history of the breed. Do we really want to touch that stove again just to see if it's really hot? Haven't we been burned enough?

So what do we get so far from the Democrats?

Eight white men: five unknown, plain-vanilla white guys, and three problematic white guys whose names we know and who are at least good public speakers. Pete Buttegieg is very young, but he has packed that time with impressive educational and military accomplishments. His answers to policy questions have been a bit vague, but why not? That could be a strategy. He is unapologetically gay. That, of course, is the only practical way to approach being gay. You have nothing to apologize for. That's the way God made you, as Buttegieg has said, and with which I wholeheartedly agree. He's really sharp, and quick-witted when it counts. He could do very well in the Dem primaries, but nationwide when all of the chips are down? I don't make the rules. I'm afraid that those silent bigots might not go for it.

Robert “Beto” O'Rourke is also very young, and he is a fine spokesman for himself. He proved himself to be a great campaigner. He hasn't really done much, though. He tends to answer questions with smoke and mirrors. He served part of a term in the House. I don't see him carrying a nationwide election.

Bernie Sanders! Bernie, in a vacuum, is the total package. He's full of good ideas, he's a passionate speaker, he answers questions with bold self-assurance and fingertips full of facts. I love Bernie. I would cheerfully vote for Bernie. But what happens in a national presidential election? People walk into the booth and are suddenly confronted with the fact that Bernie is a seventy-seven year old Jewish socialist from Brooklyn who carved out a niche for himself in the politics of Vermont. None of that would bother me, but I'm not the average voter.

That's it so far for the white men. I don't see any comfortable winners.

Then there are the four white women: Three senators, one of whom is from Minnesota and therefore little known. Then there's Kirsten Gillibrand, from New York. Fifty-two years old, and very attractive, which still counts for something. Her husband is a venture capitalist, which is mentioned in passing (his money was not included in her net worth in the sources that I saw). And, (drum roll), Elizabeth Warren. I think that she's the cat's pajamas, and I would definitely take her class if I were back in law school and she were one of the profs. She has jumped right out front in staking out issues that people will like, like student loan forgiveness. She dresses well and she is a good, if not great, public speaker. She's got a lot going for her. I'm sorry to say, I don't see any comfortable winners here either.

Oh, and Marianne Williamson! An author of spiritual books! That's enough on that subject.

Two black men: Wayne Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida. Some kind of vanity project, I guess. Maybe he wants to move to an office in Washington, D.C.

The other black gentleman is Cory Booker, a senator from New Jersey with name recognition to spare. Cory is a “centrist,” whatever that means these days. He is a slippery one when question time comes. I know the trick for grabbing an eel in a bucket, but no one seems to know the secret of getting a straight answer out of Cory Booker on a policy question.

I'm sorry to be blunt, but I think we've had enough experimentation with a black president to hold us for a while. After Trump, people will be looking for comfort, not more excitement.

One black woman: Kamala Harris. Black didn't work out and woman was a non-starter, let's try a black woman! For all of the above reasons, let's not go there this time. Give it another minute or two.

Bear in mind, I love Kamala Harris (although the prosecutor thing is a negative for me). She's beautiful, brilliant, and accomplished. This election is just too important to take chances.

Hispanic men: Julian Castro has this field to himself. Nice man, smart guy, good speaker, a twin! He's been HUD Secretary under Obama and the mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Nice to see him here.

Asian-Pacific men and women: here we have non-politician and likely forum shopper Andrew Yang, a good-hearted man, to be sure. Smart enough; good enough; talented enough. Thanks, Andrew, for whatever it is that you're doing here. How about that Tulsi Gabbard? That list of firsts; that rare bird. First Hindu House Rep; first Samoan-American House Rep. She's only thirty-eight, maybe we'll see her “evolve” into a real presidential candidate.

The First Monkey Wrench Hits the Gears

Joe Biden! (See “Hell No, Joe,” March 19, 2019.) Here's Joe again, back to haunt us with his back catalog of hidden, mostly forgotten legislative horrors. Joe's legislative history goes back to 1972, and it's mostly bad. Joe has more negatives than Weegee after a particularly busy night of crime-scene photography in Manhattan.

Joe Biden's problem is the opposite of many of the above candidates. He might be a very attractive candidate in a nationwide election, but he could easily fail in the primaries. These are Democrats we're talking about, don't forget. They'll cheerfully vote for unelectable candidates in the primaries. Then, those candidates go on to lose the election. This is not me being cranky; this is Democratic Party history. (Michael Dukakis.)

And who cares? Joe is almost as old as Ringo. What is he, seventy-seven? When people start talking about how many of us live to be ninety or one hundred now, don't forget that most of us don't. Joe could drop dead any minute now. Hell, I'm rather younger than Joe, and I feel like I could drop dead at any time. Same for Bernie Sanders, may God be merciful on his blessed soul, and allow him many more years to help all of us IN THE SENATE.

It's Still Early!

America's billionaires do not keep me informed about their plans. Whom among them could become interested at some point? Mike Bloomberg? He's worth $60 billion. That would buy a lot of campaign, on any time schedule that Mr. Bloomberg chose. He has the advantage of being a real politician with lots of executive experience.

Who else is out there? This is getting way too exciting. Trump could disappear at any minute, for a wide variety of reasons. How's this for a deal: “I retire for 'health reasons,' Pence gets the gig, you guys do whatever you want, and then just leave me the hell alone.” Three-fourths of the serious people in government would take that deal in a heartbeat.

Will there be a meaningful primary challenge to Trump? If Trump is the nominee again, against some unelectable Democrat, will one or more billionaires figure, oh, hell no, and run as independents? H. Ross Perot got nineteen percent of the vote in 1992. You read that right. He took the votes equally from both sides, so it was a wash. Clinton won it fair and square. What'll happen next year?

This is way too much excitement for me. God, I hate presidential elections.

No comments: