Wednesday, January 30, 2019

For 2020 who is running, who might run, and who should not

Quote of the Day: “If, say, some ego-driven coffee salesman splits the American mainstream, it will be that much easier for Trump to overcome his weak standing and hang onto power.” (From Steve Benen at MSNBC/MaddowBlog.)

That’s one of two threats facing the Dems in the 2020 election. Benen is, of course, referring to the announcement by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz that he is thinking about running for President - as an Independent. There are good reasons for this guy not to run. Here are some of them from the story on Daily Kos: Schultz threatens 3rd party bid if Democrats pick “far left” candidate.

Howard Schultz’s advisers have a message for the former Starbucks chief‘s critics: Schultz could be the fail-safe plan in the event Democrats nominate a far-left candidate in 2020. — www.politico.com/…

and how does Schultz define “far left”?

Schultz had this to say: “It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left. I say to myself, ‘How are we going to pay for these things,’ in terms of things like single payer (and) people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job.” — www.investors.com/…

Hang on a second, who gave Schultz the idea that single payer healthcare was a “far-left” issue for Democrats? 85% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans support Medicare for All. Together, they’re 70% of the country. Maybe, just maybe, we are a “far left” country as Schultz suggests. Perhaps the thing that has kept us to from realizing these “far left” policy objectives are plutocrats like Schultz who work to undermine the common interest.

Schultz went on to say that the greatest threat domestically to the country is “this $21 trillion debt hanging over the cloud of America and future generations. The only way we’re going to get out of that is we’ve got to grow the economy, in my view, 4% or greater. And then we have to go after entitlements.” — www.investors.com/…

Ah right, another wildly popular position among Democrats, cutting earned benefits such as social security, which right wingers love to malign as “entitlements”.

From a cited tweet.

Asked if Dems could do anything to change his mind, Schultz replies: “No”

“I don’t think their views represent the majority of Americans … I don’t think we want a 70 percent income tax in America (???), and I certainly don’t think we can afford the things they’re suggesting”

Where does this guy get his polling data from, the country club? Because 60% of Americans support AOC’s proposal to add a 70% tax bracket for income above 10 million a year. That support rises to 71% among Democrats.

The New Yorker has an independent account of Schultz’s beliefs - and the reaction of some hecklers to them - in Howard Schultz Against the Hecklers.

… Andrew Ross Sorkin, a Times and CNBC journalist, was on hand to interview Schultz. …

Sorkin got right to the point: Why was Schultz considering a run as an Independent, rather than as a Democrat? Schultz began to answer but was almost immediately cut off by a protester. “Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical, billionaire asshole!” the man shouted. “Go back to getting ratioed on Twitter. Go back to Davos with the other billionaire élites who think they know how to run the world.” Security yanked him out of the room.

Schultz then got his turn. “I believe that, if I ran as a Democrat,” he said, “I would have to say things that I know in my heart I do not believe, and I would have to be disingenuous.” Many Democrats entering the 2020 field plan to run on expanding government investment in health care, education, and jobs. Schultz plans to run on a platform of deficit reduction.

Sorkin asked Schultz, a self-made billionaire, for his thoughts on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-made political force who now represents New York’s Fourteenth Congressional District. Schultz praised Ocasio-Cortez for bringing attention to issues of social inequality but criticized her methods as “punitive” to those who have succeeded. When Sorkin told Schultz that one of Ocasio-Cortez’s policy advisers has called “every billionaire a policy failure,” Schultz replied, “It’s so un-American to think that way.” Later, he added, “I don’t think we want a seventy-per-cent income tax in America,” referring to Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to tax income above ten million dollars at high rates.

Political moderates, Schultz suggested, don’t have a place in the current Democratic Party. “What the progressive, left-leaning Democratic Party is suggesting is government-paid health care for everyone … government jobs … government-paid college for everyone,” Schultz said. He calculated that these three programs would cost forty trillion dollars over a ten-year period. “If America was a company, with twenty-one and a half trillion dollars of debt, adding a trillion dollars a year, we’d be facing insolvency.”

But then he was interrupted by another progressive protester. “Health care is a human right!” the man bellowed. He repeated the statement over and over again, until he, too, was dragged out of the Barnes & Noble.

In Scriber’s opinion, the second threat facing Dems is a run by Hillary Clinton. I thought she would be a superb president in 2016 and I think that now. However, her candidacy would certainly resurrect all the email and server issues - at least. So, first, is she thinking about running?

The Rolling Stone reports that Hillary Clinton Reportedly Has Not Ruled Out a 2020 Run. The former presidential candidate has told friends she is leaving the door open.

[CNN’s Jeff Zeleny], a White House correspondent, was careful to clarify that this news “does not mean that there’s a campaign-in-waiting, or a plan in the works.” But, Clinton is considering it.

“Most losing presidential candidates never totally close the doors to running for president [again],” Zeleny said. “But I think we have to at least leave our mind open to the possibility that she is still talking about it. She wants to take on Trump. Could she win a Democratic primary to do it? I don’t know the answer to that.”

To win a primary, Clinton would face opponents on her left—and not just Bernie Sanders. She will also be up against other female candidates like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, whom Clinton has reportedly met with recently, presumably as they courted Clinton for her endorsement.

Having acknowledged all that, an historian notes reasons why a Clinton run might be viable: Hillary 2020? Trump better hope not. Why Hillary Clinton would be well-positioned to win in a rematch.

Clinton still retains significant support within her party, and Democrats currently have no clear front-runner to replace her. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have numerous financial backers willing to support her campaign, and the former nominee has a vibrant, large, motivated base of supporters angry at Trump, Russian interference in the election and former FBI director James B. Comey — in their minds, the collective robbers of Clinton’s presidency. Moreover, as Trump hates to be reminded, Clinton won the popular vote.

While Trump welcomes a Clinton challenge in 2020, he may find himself regretting it if voters come to believe they made a mistake and look to Clinton to rectify the wrong. Like Nixon and Reagan, Clinton can win the presidency in 2020 thanks to a combination of demographic and electoral shifts among voters and uncertainty about their futures. If Trump pulls Americans into a new economic recession or an unpopular war or fails to follow through on his rhetoric (which looks likely), Hillary Clinton’s time out of office might prove temporary.

All this does suggest an interesting election issue: competence. On that contest with Trump, Clinton wins hands down. But I still think before we close the door on this one, we need to examine those Dems who are also in the ring - like two other female contenders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren - who in their own ways crush Trump when it comes to competence.

Joe Scarborough, writing in the Washington Post, thinks Kamala Harris has what it takes “to fill a big political stage. During Sunday’s announcement of her 2020 presidential run, the California senator looked very much like a political contender who belongs in the big leagues.”

It is one thing to propel a presidential campaign off a launch pad and quite another to successfully send it into safe political orbit. But a few days into her campaign, even Harris’s critics should take note that the junior senator managed something in her first campaign speech that the last Democratic nominee failed to do throughout the whole of the 2016 campaign. She gave Americans a compelling explanation as to why she wanted to be president.

Her message — “we are better than this” — was delivered with the fierce urgency of now. In that, it was much like the earlier campaign launch by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), who framed her own White House bid as the continuation of her quest to protect consumers, to hold corporate leaders accountable and to promote a fiery brand of progressivism shaped by the prairie populism of Oklahoma and the liberal ethos of Harvard intellectualism.

Like Warren, Harris will be underestimated by Team Trump at its own peril. We are, of course, in the opening steps of a grueling, nonstop, two-year battle. Perhaps Harris will prove far more adept at beginning a presidential campaign than actually running one. And Warren may prove her critics correct by proving she lacks the personal touch to navigate the ugly give-and-take of modern presidential politics.

But I doubt it.

There are other interesting candidates in the race. But with Harris’s and Warren’s entrance into the pitched battle to crush Trumpism and its toxic legacy, Democratic primary voters may at last have reason to believe that their eventual nominee can take on Trump, win back the White House for Democrats, and bring a sense of stability and sanity back to Washington for all Americans.

More tests and more candidates are coming soon enough. But a party that produced a weakened nominee in 2016 has begun the 2020 cycle on a path that looks certain to produce a tougher political challenger than Trump has ever faced before.

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