Democratic Candidates for President in 2020

ticket
Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders: Change We Can Believe In

W.J. Astore

Yes, it’s much too early, but I count at least fourteen Democratic candidates for president in the 2020 election.  Here are a few impressionistic words on each of the candidates.

The True Progressives

1.  Bernie Sanders: Bernie is principled, sincere, honest, and dedicated to helping working people.  Yes, he’s a “Democratic socialist,” which is scary to the mainstream media.  The establishment of the Democratic Party is against him.  Advantage, Bernie.

2.  Elizabeth Warren: She identifies as a “capitalist,” but she’s proven she’s willing to take on Wall Street, the big banks, and other special interests.  She’s intelligent, sharp, and committed.  Her weakness: a lack of charisma and the whole “Pocahontas” angle, i.e. her identifying as Native American on past occasions.

3.  Tulsi Gabbard: A military veteran who’s strongly against regime-change wars, a vocal critic of the military-industrial complex, Tulsi has demonstrated poise, thoughtfulness, and coolness under pressure.  The DNC and media are against her because she’s independent-minded and refuses to bow down before special interests.  A dark horse candidate who may catch fire.  (I’m so excited I’m mixing metaphors.)

The Usual Suspects (Milquetoast Centrists)

1. Cory Booker: A water-bearer for Big Pharma, Booker has a pleasant demeanor but takes few chances.

2.  Kamala Harris: A former prosecutor, Harris seems to love prisons more than schools.

3.  Kirsten Gillibrand: Rumor has it she asked her friends on Wall Street whether it was OK for her to run.  They apparently said “yes,” so she announced her formal candidacy today.

4.  Amy Klobuchar: Already with a sad reputation for abusing her staff and making ill-judged jokes about it, Klobuchar is an uninspiring centrist.

5.  Beto O’Rourke: A millionaire who married a woman who will apparently inherit billions, Beto showed up in Iowa speaking in platitudes about the wonders of democracy in the USA.  His only firm principle is that he believes he deserves to be in the race, perhaps because he looks a little like a Kennedy if you squint really hard.

The Governors

1.  John Hickenlooper: A governor from Colorado, Hickenlooper made his money by opening a micro-brewery.  At a campaign appearance in Iowa, somebody broke a glass, and he helped to clean it up.  Though he was afraid to say he was a “capitalist” on TV, Hickenlooper may have some potential.

2.  Jay Inslee: Governor of Washington State, he’s made fighting climate change the central issue of his campaign.  He’s got one of the big issues right, so advantage to Inslee.

Wild Cards and Also-Rans

1.  Andrew Yang: A former venture capitalist and unconventional thinker, Yang has caught people’s attention by talking about a guaranteed income for all.  A possible anti-Trump in the sense he’s a successful financier with brains and heart.

2.  Pete Buttigieg: A gay mayor who’s also a veteran, Buttigieg got some air time recently by referring to Trump as a “porn president.”  Comes across like a young Mr. Rogers.

3.  Julian Castro: Formerly Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Obama.  And that’s all I know.

4.  John Delaney: I just saw his name today.  The end.

The Ultimate Centrist and Establishment Man

1. Joe Biden: Hasn’t yet announced, but it looks like he will.  The presumed front-runner based on name recognition and his loyal service as Obama’s VP for eight years.  Will have the full support of the mainstream media, the DNC, and the Washington establishment.  A decent-enough man, Biden is effectively a moderate Republican.

Bracing Views, in all its power, fully supports Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard, real progressives who want to effect real change.

Which candidates do you like, readers?  And which ones don’t you like?  Look forward to your comments!

Update (3/19/19): Apparently two more candidates are waiting in the wings: Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum.  Both are candidates of color who recently ran close but unsuccessful races in Georgia and Florida.  Perhaps not presidential material (due to lack of experience on the national stage), they may emerge as strong candidates for a VP slot.

abramsgillum

The Clintons: So Many Masks

hillary henry
Scheming, secretive, Machiavellian: birds of a feather

W.J. Astore

As Donald Trump continues to implode, it’s worthwhile considering how he even has a chance at the presidency.  It’s quite simple, actually: Americans don’t trust the Clintons, and rightly so. Why? Because the Clintons, in their quest for office, try to be all things to all people. Even as they talk about the poorest Americans and economic fairness, for example, they’re promising to make special deals for the richest and special trade deals (open trade borders for all!). Even as they criticize Wall Street they praise bankers and the financial elite behind closed doors (cashing-in big-time for these speeches). Even as they talk about the environment and global warning, they praise fracking and the fossil fuel industry.

What do the Clintons really believe?  Like many politicians, they ultimately believe in themselves, in their own quest for power, a quest in which virtually all tactics are justified. In which you can don any mask depending on that day’s audience and performance.

But if you’re all things to all people, you’re basically nothing to no one.  Put differently, if you’ve worn so many different masks for so many audiences, which face is the real you?

Trump’s followers embrace him in part because they think they know where he stands. He’s willing to say unpopular things.  As loutish and crass and ignorant as Trump is, he’s not always holding a finger up to test the political winds.  He’s not always currying favor with (and favors from) established elites.  He may be bad, but he’s genuinely bad.

The Clintons?  The word “genuine” just doesn’t apply.  Words like “scheming” and “secretive” and “Machiavellian,” however, do.

Small wonder that Hillary Clinton is such great friends with Henry Kissinger!

Does Trump Really Want to be President?

Trump holds a rally with supporters at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan, U.S.
Throwing the presidency?  Or crazy like a fox?

W.J. Astore

Is Trump trying to lose?

It’s a serious question, and I’m not the first to ask it.  Michael Moore wrote an intriguing article that suggested Trump was deliberately trying to sabotage his own campaign.

Trump is seemingly doing his best to alienate everyone but white males driven by testosterone.  Today, he suggested that military veterans who suffer from PTSD do so because of their own failings, i.e. that they simply can’t handle what stronger veterans can handle.  Add this (careless? ignorant?) statement to attacks on a Gold Star mother, the denigration of John McCain’s military service and time as a POW, and all the other attacks on Mexicans, Muslims, even an entire gender (his high school locker room mentality when he talks about women), and you have to wonder how such behavior could possibly be part of a winning strategy.

Why would Trump want to be president?  To him, the salary is vanishingly low, and the workload incredibly high.  Sure, being president would feed his ego, but Trump is mainly driven by capitalist greed and the celebration of his own magnificence.  Being president is burdensome.  It can be tedious, even boring.  It requires discipline.  Self-control.  These are realities that don’t play to Trump’s strengths.

Trump is a showman.  A braggart.  A strutter.  He’s thinks of himself as the biggest fish in the smallest pond.  He seems to delight in thrashing around and upsetting all the little fish.  But he’ll have precious little chance of doing this if he’s shackled to the Oval Office and all the responsibilities that office entails.

One thing is certain: Trump is rewriting all the rules of U.S. presidential politics.  It’s hard to keep track of the constituencies he’s offended, the bridges he’s burned, the leaders he’s estranged.  That he can still win it all is incredible: indeed, it may be incredible even to Trump.

Trump, I believe, would personally profit far more from losing the “rigged” election than winning it.  If he loses, he becomes a martyr, at least in the minds of his followers.  He can build a Trump Network/conglomerate that taps all the voters he’s rallied — and riled.  He can milk them for all the money they’re worth, and bask in their adulation while being unencumbered by the real responsibilities of holding public office.

By losing, in other words, he’ll really be winning.  Between now and the election, look for more outrageous statements by and from Trump.  He already knows he can say or do almost anything without losing his core supporters.  (As he himself boasted, he could shoot someone in cold blood in New York City and his loyal followers wouldn’t blink.)

Look for him to lose in November as well.  And then look for him to clean up — big-time.

 

Dump Chump Trump

The Donald: Easy to make fun of ... too easy
What a chump

W.J. Astore

What kind of a presidential candidate tweets in the middle of the night about alleged sex tapes involving a former Miss Universe winner?  Indeed, what kind of a man does this?

Donald Trump is a chump.  I’d call him a chimp, except it would be an insult to chimpanzees everywhere.  The man has no discipline, no sense of decorum, and no compassion for others (let’s not forget his signature line, “You’re fired”).  Indeed, he seems to revel in humiliating others.  This was mildly amusing when he was taking on equals on the stage during the Republican primaries, but it’s disturbing in the extreme to see him bullying the little guys and gals for whom he’s supposedly a champion.

So many sane people and major newspapers have gone on record as being against Trump that there’s little I can add.  Sadly, Trump’s followers seem unperturbed and undisturbed no matter his insults and tyrannical behavior.

All I can say is this: Trump is not the kind of man my father taught me to be.  My dad, who fought forest fires in Oregon in the CCC, a veteran of an armored division in World War II, a city firefighter for more than 30 years until his retirement, treated people fairly and squarely. He was humble about himself and considerate to others.  I can’t recall him insulting others, certainly not in the intentional and hurtful way that Trump directs at others.  Trump is especially fond of attacking women or minorities or anyone he sees as vulnerable, the very opposite of my dad’s code of behavior.

Don’t get me wrong: my dad wasn’t perfect.  He had his faults.  But his faults were not directed at others; he didn’t try to demean or diminish other people, as Trump so obviously enjoys doing.  Unlike Trump, my dad wasn’t boastful; indeed, three favorite sayings of his were: “Still waters run deep,” “Don’t toot your own horn,” and “The empty barrel makes the most noise.”

You were right, Dad.  The rushing nonsense from Trump exhibits his shallowness; the man is constantly tweeting his own horn; and, like the empty vessel that he is, he makes an awful amount of noise.

Trump: Not the kind of man my father would respect; not the kind of man our country needs. Dump chump Trump.

The Bull, not the Eagle, Is the New Symbol of U.S. Foreign Policy

Send in the bombers! A "strange love" indeed
Send in the bombers! A “strange love” indeed

W.J. Astore

One of the first acronyms I learned in the military was KISS.  No, not the heavy metal band.  No, nothing romantic either.  It stands for “keep it simple, stupid.”  The lesson: don’t think too much.  That leads to “analysis paralysis.” Be decisive!  Act, if need be, with extreme prejudice, a preference expressed vulgarly as “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out.”

It’s a preference readily expressed by the current crop of political candidates for commander-in-chief.  With the possible exceptions of Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, all are slavering for a chance to bomb the bastards back to the Stone Age.  Like the young macho fools in the movie “Boiler Room,” they all want to wield their (fantasy) big swinging dicks.  They’re all budding Curtis LeMays, cigar-chomping bulls in a china shop.

Indeed, the bull rather than the eagle should be the symbol of American foreign policy.  Always charging off to foreign lands, always striving to gore anyone within reach of its horns, all in the name of being decisive, of showing that “America means business” (and not just on Wall Street).

To this season’s peculiar electoral crop of presidential candidates, it looks remarkably easy to win wars. Just bomb the bastards!  Teach them not to mess with Team USA.  Heck, I’m sure it looked easy to the political hacks of London in 1775 as they faced a perceived terrorist threat in a faraway land.  Just send some “special ops” Redcoats supported by Hessian mercenaries (boots on the ground!) to teach those New England terrorists a lesson. Use superior technology (in this case, gunboats) to bombard their rebellious cities (like Boston).  Never mind civilian casualties – a show of force will show the bastards who’s boss.

At least the British had enough sense to cut their losses after six years of bungling that ended at Yorktown (1781).  The U.S. today just keeps sending more troops and more money and more bombs overseas, each time expecting victory instead of the destruction and chaos that characterized previous misadventures (Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria …).

American foreign policy: It’s become like a bull in the ring, snorting, pawing at the ground, racing madly at red capes.  Each time it thinks it’s going to get that cape – until it ends up impaled on the toreador’s sword.