The Democrats: Facing chaos in 2020?
The Iowa caucuses don’t take place for more than a year, said Tina Nguyen in VanityFair.com, but already “the Democratic street race to challenge Donald Trump for the presidency is well underway.” The Democrats’ lack of an obvious front-runner has a massive field of at least 20—and up to 40—potential candidates considering a 2020 run. To choose one nominee from this crowd, Democrats must first answer a series of important questions. “Must the party pick a leftist,” like Bernie Sanders or California Sen. Kamala Harris, “to inspire the base?” Must the nominee be a woman and/or a person of color? Or do they try to win back the disaffected blue-collar white males with a centrist like Michael Bloomberg or a populist like former Vice President Joe Biden or Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown? At this early stage, said Andrew O’Hehir in Salon.com, polls consistently show “dinosaurs” Sanders, 77, and Biden, 76, leading the pack. That’s a problem. After the “female-fueled victories of the midterms,” with young Democrats now engaged and excited about the party’s future, a “battle of old white dudes could spell disaster.”
First and foremost, “Democrats need an answer to Trump,” said Edward Morrissey in TheWeek.com. He rode into office on a wave of “anti-establishment populism,” and it will be hard to beat him in critical swing states with a member of the Washington establishment. The Democrats need a candidate who can match Trump’s outsider appeal, and whatever traction Biden may have with the white working class, his decades in Washington have left him with a terrible case of “Beltway-itis.” Hence all the excitement over Rep. Beto O’Rourke, said Jennifer Rubin in WashingtonPost.com. The charismatic Texan, who nearly upset Sen. Ted Cruz in November, is being called “the white Obama” for his oratorical skills, even though progressives don’t trust him because he hasn’t embraced “Medicare for all.” At 46, O’Rourke offers all of Biden’s sunny centrism without the age problem or the political baggage.
The last thing Democrats need is another cautious centrist like Obama or Hillary Clinton, said Robert Kuttner in HuffingtonPost.com. It was their failure “to stand foursquare with working Americans” that allowed Trump “to pose as a fake populist” and win in 2016. If Trump makes it to 2020, said Elizabeth Bruenig in WashingtonPost.com, he will be severely weakened, and there is a real opening for the Democrats to win with a candidate who has “a bold, clear, distinctly progressive agenda.” That must include a plan to combat climate change, regulate Wall Street, and make single-payer health care a reality.
The Democrats are headed “for chaos,” said John Podhoretz in the New York Post. In 2015, the huge Republican field of 16 candidates was a logistical nightmare that played right into the hands of a headline-grabbing showman like Trump. The Democratic field for 2020 will be even larger, and when women and candidates of color battle the white males for attention, “accusations of sexism and patriarchal dominion will fly fast and furious,” eclipsing serious discussions of policy. From my perspective as a Democrat, said Ronald Klain in The Washington Post, it’s a plus, not a minus, that the party has so many viable presidential candidates. The whole point of primaries is to air and thrash out philosophical differences and determine which candidate fares best under pressure. In the battle to come, “the man or woman who can triumph in that ordeal—not one who fits some set of preselected qualities—should be the Democrats’ champion.”