I don’t think anyone needs me to tell them that the top priority in the 2020 election is ending the debacle of donald trump as President of the United States. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say that we have a patriotic duty to make sure this criminal does not serve a second term. In saying that, I am not trying to invoke the Alt-Right notion of “patriotic duty” as an excuse for violence or lawlessness. There are perfectly lawful, non-violent things we can all do to make sure that Ohio’s electoral votes in 2020 are not cast for the most loathsome person ever to occupy the Oval Office. We’ll talk about those in future editions.
What I’d like to talk about now is who will we run against the Magamaniac. Caucuses will be held in Iowa shortly after the New Year. We will have our primary election in Ohio on March 17, 2020, St. Patrick’s Day. Every one of us needs to put down the green beer long enough to go vote that day or vote early. Ohio’s primary will have a significant impact on who our Party nominates for President in 2020. It is an extremely important choice.
I don’t believe it would be appropriate for me to endorse a particular candidate and, frankly, I haven’t decided who I personally support. I do want to suggest some things for you to think about as you make up your own mind. First, I want to suggest that the consideration which overrides all others is who has the best chance of beating trump in the general election. His abandonment of US allies and letting Russia become the major outside player in the Middle East, dismantling environmental regulation because “climate change is a hoax,” and using the office for his personal gain should be more than enough to make it obvious that four more years of trump would be a disaster unparalleled in US history.
While several of our presidential candidates have put forward laudable ideas, you must get into office for ideas to be implemented. I’ve seen persuasive research supporting the conclusion that most people do not vote for President based on the candidates’ announced policy positions. Rather, most people vote based on their perceptions of the candidates as people. Who is more trustworthy? With whom do I feel more empathy? About whom do I get a “better feel?” The point here is that policy positions are part, but a relatively small part, of assessing who can beat trump. The much bigger question is who will more voters, particularly those in states like ours, like better.
Another issue to consider is whether particular candidates have immutable characteristics which work against them. We know trump is an almost stereotypical arrogant white male. We also know that an African American man can win the White House. Barack Obama did that twice. Is the nation open to electing our first woman President in 2020? Does an openly gay candidate have a chance?
I admire Mayor Pete Buttigieg and much of what I’ve heard him say makes sense. However, my own opinion is that too many people will vote against him just because he is gay regardless of anything else he says or does. You may disagree, but it is a factor worth thinking about. We haven’t yet reached the point in America where it can be ignored.
I’ve heard many people say that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 because she is a woman. I personally disagree. For reasons that are unclear to me, Mrs. Clinton has inspired emotions akin to hatred among many people since she was First Lady of Arkansas. I think that is something unique to Mrs. Clinton that other women candidates do not have to overcome just because they are women. I also think that the Clinton Campaign in 2016 made several very damaging missteps, including her “deplorables” remark to not investing enough effort in the red parts of key electoral college states like Ohio.
The difference between the vote for President Obama in 2012 and the vote for Mrs. Clinton in 2016 in the Ohio counties accounts for President Obama winning Ohio and Mrs. Clinton losing it. Presumably, the candidates for 2020 of both genders have learned from those mistakes. Still, we judge men and women by different standards. Are there candidates whose gender, coupled with the rest of their outward persona, will help them or hurt them with voters?
The things I think about in assessing the candidates are things like: Who is running the most adroit campaign? Who is doing well raising money? How do I imagine the candidate performing on a debate stage next to trump? You may have other indicia. Again, my point is to think seriously about who can beat trump. Whomever you decide that is, that is the candidate I urge you to support.
You may notice that I haven’t said anything about the Russians. A recently released Senate Committee report recounts that Russian operatives at the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg saluted each other at the end of our Election Night in 2016 by saying “We made America great again.” The Russians feel that they succeeded in 2016. They will be at it again in 2020. Collusively or not, we know who will gladly be accepting their help. That is another reason why, as Democrats, we can’t afford any mistakes in 2020.
You may also have noticed that nowhere in this piece is the first letter of the President’s name capitalized. That is not a typo. I consider the initial cap in a person’s name to be a gesture of respect. It is beyond me how anyone can harbor any respect for donald j. trump.