Democrats locally and nationally pretend to be united in a single paramount goal: Beat President Trump in 2020! That makes sense, particularly if you regard the tweeter-in-chief as an existential threat; a man capable of destroying the very foundations of our cherished republic.
Were I an ardent Democrat, I’d sacrifice liberal ideology on the altar of electability. I’d look carefully at the blue wave of 2018, and consider what propelled the party to a congressional majority.
One word: moderation. Cautious, sensible women and men snatched GOP seats in red states and swing states without overly catering to the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. There were a few exceptions, but liberal outliers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were relatively scarce. And remember, AOC knocked off the out-of-touch Dem incumbent in the primary — it has always been a deep blue district.
At the beginning of the year, I imagined that Democrats would choose a standard bearer who would bring only positive energy to the race. Younger than the president, thoughtful, well informed, without Trump’s personal baggage, articulate, charismatic and able to skewer the incumbent in a one-to-one debate.
I figured that a credible candidate would soon emerge from the bizarrely crowded field.
Joe Biden? Nope — he’s my age, and I sympathize with him when he stumbles over his words, misunderstands questions and babbles on semi-coherently. But Trump would make mincemeat of him during the campaign. As Springs attorney Lindsay Fischer told me 22 years ago when Mayor Bob Isaac abruptly resigned after a long and distinguished run in office, “Even the finest cut of meat has a sell-by date, as do politicians.” Good ole Joe will be 77 on Nov. 20 — hasn’t he reached his sell-by date?
Bernie Sanders? Nope — he’s a year older than Joe, a banner-waving ultraliberal. He’s been a fun, irascible and honest senator, but president? Still, it’d be fun to watch him debate El Presidente.
Elizabeth Warren? If asked to describe a nightmare candidate, it’d be 70-year-old Sen. Warren — a Harvard professor who wants to blow up American health care and create a multi-trillion-dollar government behemoth that might or might not deliver, who has a plan for everything and reminds every middle-aged male voter of Hillary Clinton. She’s extraordinarily smart and capable, but I think her health care plan is a political landmine.
And then there are the 2-percenters, including Bennet, Bullock, Booker, Klobuchar and Yang — candidates stuck in neutral in the polls.
That leaves Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris as the only moderate Democrats with reasonable (if highly uncertain) paths to the nomination.
Let’s suppose that Biden falters in Iowa, and that either Mayor Pete or Harris surpasses expectations. Biden’s campaign isn’t having much success in fundraising, and younger voters aren’t exactly excited by him. If Buttigieg does well in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Harris manages to activate African-Americans in South Carolina, one of them might become the principal moderate opponent to Warren or Sanders.
And if either Harris or Buttigieg prevail, could they win? Is America ready for a female African-American president, or a 37-year-old gay president?
Growing up in the 1940s and ’50s in an America that enacted and enforced segregationist and anti-gay laws, I couldn’t have imagined such a future. Just as I was delighted to vote for Barack Obama, I’d be delighted to vote for Harris or Mayor Pete — but not because of their race, gender or sexual orientation.
Age is a factor. Competent presidents have to do what Trump apparently refuses to do — buckle down and govern. Our POTUS tweets, golfs, goes to events and takes long weekends at Mar-a-Lago. He acts like a very rich guy in his 70s — surprise!
Buttigieg and Harris are visibly smart, energetic and competent, and haven’t signed on to the fantasies of the extreme left. So how to decide whom to support? I could send one or both a few bucks and become one of millions of small-dollar supporters, thereby assuring a lifetime supply of electronic liberal supplications.
Mayor Pete and his husband, Chasten, have two big rescue dogs, pictured lolling on the couch of their home in South Bend, Ind. My wife Karen and I have three — easy decision! Ten, maybe even 20 bucks for the fresh prince of South Bend.
And at 37, Mayor Pete’s sell-by date is years away…