Assessing the 2020 Democrats

Democrats can’t go hard left if they wish to win in 2020

By on February 19, 2019

I should put a massive disclaimer in front of this article that I am in no way, shape or form endorsing any of the people I talk about here. I supported the President in 2016, and intend on doing so again in 2020 barring some major change.

That being said, if Democrats are interested in toppling Trump in 2020, there are definitely some choices toward that end that are better than others.

The dilemma facing Democratic voters is how to run against Trump. There are two options that are being debated. This first is to run a moderate, middle of the road candidate that is able to win the voters that switched from Obama 2012 to Trump 2016.

This would be somebody like former Vice President Joe Biden, or former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Looking at the polls in this early stage, for whatever it may be worth at this point, shows them consistently leading Trump by a fair margin. I think if you are desperate to remove Trump from office and nothing else, those two would be your best bet.

The problem, though, is that those moderate, middle of the road candidates are going to get slaughtered in the Democratic primary. Bloomberg, a former Republican who used “tough on crime” policing policies such as stop-and-frisk as NYC mayor, among others, is simply not going to survive a Democratic primary, according to CNN. That he, as reported by CNN in January, is still defending those policies simply makes it worse for him.

His views on guns and climate change are in line with the Democratic base, but which of the candidates running can that not be said about?

It doesn’t matter how many billions he might be willing to dump into the race to try and sell himself, I don’t think Democrats are interested in buying.

As for Biden, he will have to contend with his record in the Senate, including his votes for stricter drug sentencing laws and his overseeing of the Anita Hill hearings. He at least benefits from the glow of the Obama years, having been Obama’s VP, but once he gets on the debate stage with the other candidates that will likely fade.

The problem for Democrats is the candidates who are most likely to beat Trump are the same candidates that will never get through a Democratic primary. One cannot imagine much enthusiasm in Democratic circles about old, white men with center-left policy records, certainly not in this political environment.

The second line of thinking is to push a candidate who is far to the left, in the hope that President Trump’s anemic approval ratings will allow them to win.

If you are a progressive, and you want one of your own in the White House, it does seem now would be your chance. The risk, of course, is the fact that may not happen.

You may very well see a repeat of what happened in the Florida gubernatorial race in 2018; Ron DeSantis, a Trump-like Republican, won out over progressive Andrew Gillum in what was otherwise a very good election for Democrats. And the individual candidates have problems of their own.

It’s almost impossible to score 100 percent on the “woke” scale, but if you’re running in this lane, that isn’t an excuse. California Senator Kamala Harris has to deal with her past record as a prosecutor. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand had essentially the exact immigration program when she was a congresswoman from upstate New York as President Trump, not to mention she was a self-described “gun nut” with an “A” rating from the NRA.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is dogged by her Native American DNA scandal. Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke’s chief achievement is losing to Ted Cruz. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders supposedly had a problem with racial insensitivity in 2016, and we’ll almost certainly hear about that again.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard used to oppose gay marriage quite vocally, and in a recent statement apologized for it, according to Politico. I will say, in the defense of Gabbard, I find her foreign policy agenda interesting. Trump ran as a non-interventionist, but he hasn’t governed as one to the extent a lot of people hoped.

While I find her positions on a number of other issues disqualifying, I can’t knock somebody on the other side of the aisle for taking a stand against unneeded foreign wars and excessive interventionism.

If I were a Democrat, what I would be looking for is somebody who can most effectively fuse both the progressive and the centrist wings of the party. That’s why I think, should they choose to run, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar would be the best candidates.

Both represent states that have trended toward Republicans, and both won re-election fairly easily in 2018 despite that, according to the Ohio and Minnesota state elections. In other words, they have an established record of being able to win the swing voters that gave Trump victory in 2016. And even so, they’ve established a decent amount of progressive bone-a-fides, including far more liberal stances on social issues than you would expect them to get away within their states. Brown, in particular, is the last statewide Democrat left in Ohio.

So, if I had a sake in this process, would vote for Sherrod Brown. I give him a slight edge over Klobuchar because he represents a state Donald Trump won by over eight points in 2016, whereas the president lost Klobuchar’s home state by 1.5 percent. Both, however, are viable picks that could make it through the primaries and into the general.

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