This is my take on the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, as an Independent moderate who will be voting Democrat.
I understand why the DNC allows a giant field of candidates — it generates interest and money. But giant fields don’t tend to produce the best, most qualified candidate. The 2016 GOP field was large, and….yeah. I think the DNC likes the giant field because a) it lends to the illusion [yes, illusion] of diversity and b) they don’t want to be accused [as in 2016] of placing a thumb on the scale.
I wish there were more diversity among those who are qualified but right now there isn’t. That’s down to both long-term lack of support by the DNC for and general historic cultural marginalization of women and people of color by both parties and society. Things are really starting to change (at least in one party and the majority of society), and I hope in the future to see more diversity among those running for president, but right now, things are as they are.
Realistically, there aren’t many truly “qualified to be POTUS” candidates running and there isn’t much diversity among them. When I say qualified, I want to be clear. The mess the current POTUS has made of domestic and foreign affairs can be charitably described as a dumpster fire. The next POTUS will have a huge job to do cleaning it up and it’s going to take skill, knowledge, and a lot of long-term relationships she or he can call on in the Congress.
So all that said, here’s the group that should be on the debate podium (Links are to candidate campaign websites):
Biden, Bullock, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren, with wildcards Bennet and Sestak.
That’s 3 elderly white men, 1 elderly white woman, 2 middle aged white men, and 1 middle aged white woman. If you look at the polling, basically there are two candidates: Biden and Warren. Both are white and elderly. Woman, that’s your diversity. Hard to believe it’s the 21st century.
(Links below are to candidate Wikipedia pages)
Joe Biden: Do I think he would do a good job? Yes. Do I think he’s old? Yes. Do I wonder why Trump is so scared of him? No. Joe Biden eats into the older, white, working man demographic. I think for many voters, Joe B. is the nostalgia candidate. People like him because they remember Obama. I don’t know if they really like Joe for Joe. He’s my distant second choice.
Amy Klobuchar: Amy is the person people should be looking at if they’re moderates who liked Obama. She has really good ideas. She’s not afraid to ask tough questions. She’s super sharp on the law and a constant defender of the good of the people. She’s got a long track record of getting stuff done. She’s got good relations and is respected in the house and senate with people on both sides of the aisle. She’s great on all the committees. She actually does get elected in red areas. She’s the right age. Hands-down, she’s my favorite candidate.
Bernie Sanders: I like Bernie Sanders. I respect his ideas and his years and years of service. The problem is, historically, if you run for your party’s nomination and fail to capture it (2016), and you run again the next cycle and capture the party nomination(2020), you’ll lose the actual election. This happens over and over and over. It happened to Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney, etc, etc, etc. Bernie’s chances of winning the presidency in 2020 are zero, but no one wants to talk about it.
Elizabeth Warren: If you’re a progressive, Elizabeth is your candidate. Even though she’s served only 1 full term as US senator, she has been working in Washington, DC in government. But mostly, she’s an academic. I disagree with many of her positions. She’s not someone I would choose, because I don’t really see her as fully qualified, but I’d vote for her. Would she do a good job? I think so.
The Future Candidates
Pete Buttigeg: I respect Pete’s military service, but he’s unqualifed to be POTUS right now. No real executive experience. Mayor of South Bend, IN (pop. 100K) is not equivalent to being a governor. He should be running for an Indiana state senate seat, then maybe the governor’s office in 10 years. He ran for the DNC chairmanship in 2017 but withdrew. He’s loaded with ambition, but he’s blind to the fact that he doesn’t have the needed ties and knowledge yet to pull off POTUS. He should work on developing those and changing IN for the next 15 years, then run for POTUS. I expect he’ll stay in till he’s forced out or offered a cabinet post.
Corey Booker: Corey has a law degree. He’s been committed to public service since his earliest days. He was mayor of Newark, NJ (pop. 285K) for a decade. He’s served a full term (6 years) as US senator for NJ. But his messaging is a mess. He’s trying to appeal to moderates and progressives, and failing at both. I like him, but I have no idea who he is or what he wants to accomplish. He should stay in the senate, figure out who he is and what his message is for the next 12 years then run for POTUS. I expect he’ll by gone by Christmas.
Julian Castro: I respect Julian’s service as Sec of HUD for 3 years during the Obama administration, and he has a little bit of executive experience. He was mayor of San Antonio, TX (1.5Mil), but this is not equivalent to a governor. He should be running for US senator for TX or governor. He isn’t because he doesn’t think he can win in such a red state. He has ambition, he just doesn’t have the needed ties and knowledge to pull off POTUS. He should work on that and changing TX for better for the next 15 years. I expect him to drop out in Nov before the debates.
Tulsi Gabbard: I respect Tulsi’s military service to the country. I think she’s committed to public service. But she has zero executive experience. She was vice chair of the DNC for a few years. She’s currently a Rep in the US House. She should be running for HI for US senator of HI or governor. She isn’t because she doesn’t think he can win. She has ambition, she doesn’t have the needed ties and knowledge yet to pull off POTUS. She should work on that and changing HI for better for the next 20 years. I expect her to drop out in Nov before the debates.
The Should Be on the Debate Stage
Michael Bennet: I respect Mike’s 10 years of service as a US senator from Colorado. Before that, he spent 4 years as his state’s Superintendent of Schools. He has a law degree, He’s worked as US Deputy Attorney. To be honest, I’m not sure why a person this qualified isn’t on the podium. I expect him to drop out soon.
Stephen Bullock: Steve is a person with actual executive experience. He’s been governor of Montana for 6 years and before that Attorney General of Montana for 4 years. He’s a centrist Democrat governor in a pretty red state. He is a person who really ought to be on the debate stage because he’s actually one of the few people who is qualified to be POTUS. I expect him to drop out soon.
Joe Sestak: I respect the Admiral’s commitment to public service. Joe S. devoted 30 years of his life to the navy and was in the House of Reps for the state of PA for 4 years. He has degrees in politics and economics. He ran for US Senate in 2010 and 2016. He’s really a person that should be on the debate stage, but I imagine that’s not going to happen as the DNC tried to talk him out of running in for the US senate in 2010 but he refused, and it ended up costing the Dems a US senate seat, still to this day. I expect him to drop out soon.
The Almost Vanity Candidates
Wayne Messam: I respect his service as mayor of Miramar, FL’s (pop 140K) the last 4 years, and his 4 years before that as a city commissioner. I think he’s committed to public service. But POTUS? Now? He’s way out of his league right now. Blind ambition I guess. He should focus on doing more for the people of FL, on becoming a state senator or sec of state. He needs way more experience in politics to be POTUS. He can run again in 20 years. I expect him to drop out soon.
Beto O’Rourke: Beto has minuscule executive experience. He sat on the city council of El Paso, TX (pop 683K) and was Mayor Pro-Temps, for 1 year. In no way is this equivalent to being a governor. He should be running for US senator or governor of TX. He isn’t because he tried and lost and in his vanity just figures, he’ll just skip that since TX is a redish state. He served in the US House of Rep for 6 years. He has blind ambition, he just doesn’t have the needed ties and knowledge yet to pull off POTUS. He should work on that and changing TX for better for the next 15 years. I expect him to drop out by Thanksgiving.
Kamala Harris: Kamala has no executive experience. DA of San Francisco for 7 years, state AG for 6, she then became a US senator in Jan 2017. She 1 year in began gearing up to run for president. Seriously. Disinterested in being Senator, except as a platform to launch a presidential campaign, she has blind ambition. She coattails. If someone has a good idea (typically Amy Klobuchar) she copies it. And she weathercocks. If she doesn’t know your position on something, she’ll stall or waffle till she figures it out and can tell you what you want to hear. She should focus on learning to be a good senator, then in 12 years aim for a cabinet position. I expect she’ll stay in the race as long as she can to try and get a VP nod from Biden or promise of a cabinet post like AG.
The Actual Vanity Candidates
Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson: I’m going to treat these folks as a group. Basically they are vanity candidates. I want to be clear, they aren’t bad people. I respect all three of these individuals. They see problems and they want to fix them. They have all, in their own ways, contributed to making the country a much better place. But they haven’t the goods needed for the job of POTUS. I expect them all to drop out by Thanksgiving. I think Tom and Andrew are really angling for cabinet post promises.
These folks are not qualified to run the country even if it was in great shape. They’re never going to be able to sort out the current mess and pull the government back onto the tracks the Founders laid. I’m sorry but it’s true. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good people. It just means, why tune into a debate that isn’t substantive issues discussed by people with actual knowledge and real policies who are qualified to be POTUS?
The fifth debate, as of today will host 9 candidates:
Biden, Buttigieg, Booker, Harris, Klobuchar, Warren, Sanders, Steyer, Yang.
There are three more that may make it into the debates by Nov 7, O’Rourke, Gabbard, and Castro, but it seems unlikely at this point.
How many of those are qualified and have a shot:
Biden, Klobuchar, Warren.
Will I be tuning in?