Saturday, December 29, 2018

How Dems can win in 2020

My records from the archive show that the blog was founded on April 14, 2014. The blog was always meant to be written from a progressive point of view. But even back then Scriber described himself as a “practical progressive.” That recognizes the fact that you cannot govern if you don’t win. Sen. Lindsey Graham in heat of the Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination debate, said something similar - as I recall “If you want to choose SCOTUS justices, win elections.”

Every evening, it seems, there is a bewildering array of headshots of possible Democratic candidates for 2020. It looks to your Scriber much like the array of GOP candidates at the start of the 2016 season. And that did not turn out so well. Perhaps we can winnow the field a bit.

Here’s what Democrats should look for in a 2020 nominee Jennifer Rubin counseled in her Friday Washington Post column.

We still don’t know which Democrats (most of them?) will run for president in 2020. Nevertheless, from the vantage point of an ex-Republican and homeless political wanderer — one who has seen her party taken over by a right-wing populist, lose intellectual respectability and endanger democratic norms — I can say to Democrats that, if you don’t know what is truly important, you’ll wind up with someone you’ll regret nominating.

In assessing the candidates, here (in no particular order) are [Scriber excerpted] factors Democratic primary voters would be wise to consider.

Find someone who can do the job: If and when President Trump is beaten, he’ll leave a trail of destruction — a more divided country, alienated allies, a hollowed-out civil service, hyperpoliticization (even on the Supreme Court), huge debt, even greater income inequality and emboldened international foes. Now is no time for celebrity dilettantes — and voters intuitively know it.

Think about those 2018 midterm voters who defected from the GOP: In 2018, suburbanites, especially college-educated women, fled the Republican Party en masse … the base will turn out no matter who takes on Trump, but the voters who gave Democrats a shot in 2018 may revert to Republican form or just stay home if the Democrats don’t put up a credible alternative.

Appeal to voters who actually care about values: the electorate … registers high levels of concern about corruption, the character of our leaders, the cruelty of their policies (especially child separation), the embrace of thuggish dictators, indifference to the environment (which is often cast in moral terms), as well as the unabashed racism and misogyny that Trump has tried to normalize … A candidate who aims to make Americans proud of their government and return character as a criteria for the presidency will go far.

Look for skills and vision, not white papers: … Rather than tell voters that solutions are easy and only he/she can fix it, a candidate who explains that things are hard and complicated but that, collectively, we have the ingenuity and resources to overcome challenges will make an attractive alternative to Trump.

Pass the commander in chief test: Granted, just about any American off the street would make for a more impressive candidate for commander in chief than Trump, but Democrats still should be concerned that their nominee be credible on the international stage …

Be wary of age: It’s not the most critical factor, but if Democrats run a septuagenarian, they give up a significant advantage in a general election against Trump. The contrast between Trump, a cultural dinosaur and technological ignoramus, and a plugged-in, accessible president who seems to be of this century, not the last, would work to Democrats’ advantage.

What isn’t all that important, at least not now? Ideological labels (ask the self-appointed guardians of conservatism how that worked out in 2016); money (it’ll be there eventually); and gender. As to the last item, Democrats probably wouldn’t be wise to run two white men, but it is more important that the team be balanced than it would for the top of the ticket be a woman or non-white. Yes, African American voters are critical in many early primary states, and Hispanic voters must remain engaged, but candidates such as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), O’Rourke, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and slew of white Democratic governors in the upper Midwest showed they can turn out nonwhite voters.

Now, it is possible that Republicans will dump Trump and come up with a credible, responsible nominee. Chances are, however, that the country will need the Democrats or an independent movement to supply a candidate to send Trump packing. We pray they choose wisely.

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