DEMOCRATS REMAIN ADRIFT WITHOUT A VISION OR A LEADER
Trying to make sense of the US presidential election that is still well over a year away is a challenging task. So much makes no sense at all. The easiest example of this is trying to figure out why under-educated and underpaid rural white Americans flock to Trump, an over-educated yet ignorant pompous ass who flaunts his spurious wealth and openly brags about cheating at every turn. Throw in the overwhelming hardcore Christian support for Trump, and the mystery deepens even more.
Another example is the vanishing Obamas. Apparently freed from the audacity of hope, the Obamas seem also to have freed themselves from the authenticity of conscience. While it makes me wonder what I voted for in the first place, I have stopped waiting for Michelle to show up at a child detention facility at the border or waiting for Barack to make the move that will make impeachment happen. I get how compelling it must be to spend your days and nights with George Clooney and his ilk, but there are detained children at our border, bullet riddled youth on inner-city streets, and desperate lives seeking opioid relief who need the Obamas now and need them more than Clooney
That brings us to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the four states in the nation with the apparently awesome responsibility of choosing for the rest of us the Democratic Party nominee for president. These are the states that will hold the first Democratic Party presidential primaries and caucuses in February 2020. I don’t know who is going to win any of these “elections,” but I do know that there is already, and will continue to be, a rampage of speculation about this. Not hard factual reporting, but anonymously sourced stories, opinion, commentary, and posturing about what Democratic voters will do in these states with just 4% of the population.
If you worked at it, you probably couldn’t find four more unrepresentative states in the nation. For starters, the total population of the four states is approximately 12.8 million, or less than 4% of the US population of approximately 330 million people. Of the four, only New Hampshire and South Carolina have real elections where voters go to a voting booth and select among the candidates. The other two, including first in the nation Iowa, have caucuses where a group of motivated Democratic Party activists (about 8% of registered Iowa voters in February 2016) select the candidates of their choosing in closed precinct conventions.***
So hang on to your hats while almost every caucus goer in Iowa is vetted and feted by smiling candidates and their fawning minions. “Go for Joe” or “Joe Blows” – take your pick. This whole thing is so wrong and so unlikely to produce an outcome that connects any individual candidate to serious thoughts on serious issues.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to visit New Hampshire and Nevada, I like corn from Iowa, and I once spent a great few days camping on a beach in South Carolina. But I don’t want the denizens of those small and mostly rural states to choose the Democratic nominee. I want there to be a broad and open fight for the nomination among candidates who are willing to tell me what they stand for and their actual plan for pummeling Trump. Let’s see who wins the Texas primary, the Michigan primary, the Florida primary, the Ohio primary, and the Pennsylvania primary. Then we can talk.
But most of all, I want to see who can craft a vision for America that will overwhelm Trump’s racist, nativist, and xenophobic vision. I want to see who can speak intelligently and passionately about plans, programs and policies, without raising their hands to every stupid “yes” or “no” question from a reporter or a voter.
Slogans won’t work either. “Medicare for All” is a nice idea, but universal access to meaningful healthcare is a real and achievable ideal. Tell the voters how you plan to get there soon, while ensuring everyone that pre-existing conditions will be fully covered and outlandish drug company profits will be marginalized.
I would truly like to see Democratic Party leaders, such as they are, and the candidates serious about running for president get in a room and not come out until there is an agreed upon one-pager that tells even the most challenged voters in America in simple terms what is at the core of the Party’s commitment to voters in 2020.
Let me help on this – universal access to meaningful healthcare, humane and comprehensive immigration reform that honors the dignity of humankind, a living wage for all even at the expense of corporate profits, design and implementation of programs to reduce the level of violence in our society often caused by the confluence of firearms and mental illness. I could go on to education, infrastructure, and well-regulated energy and technology sectors.
But none of this is likely to happen as long every mind fart in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina is covered as breaking news, and every candidate struts a pandering message of the day. This will do little more than create a hustler’s dream carnival where the person with the most Kewpie dolls wins.
Instead, let’s make “Send Him Back” to Mar-a-Lago our rallying cry, make clear and unequivocal abhorrence of racism and intolerance our creed, and make leadership of a humane and caring government our goal. If Democrats do this and attach real plans and policies to a positive vision for America, they will at least be true to themselves. Start by telling all Americans that the Democratic Party nominee will not lie to them.
And after this, if Trump wins anyway, we get what we deserve as a nation. And that nation will have put to rest once and for all any notion that “we are better than this” and “it is not who we are.”