The national political air is full of 2020 talk these days. For both parties.
Ohio Governor John Kasich seems ready to formalize his run against Trump. Jump in early, suck up media attention but, more importantly, get into the pockets of Republican fat cats. Wise move. To some extent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is doing the same with Dems.
The GOP field to take on Trump will be small. But, Democrats are coming out of the trees to float their names around. And that’s healthy. Shake out all the contenders, give ‘em their head and see who’s left by convention time. Like Republicans, they’re looking for big bucks because 2020 will be the most expensive fray ever. It’s also guaranteed to be the dirtiest race in our long history of presidential elections.
Several factors are concerning about all this. The first is Trump himself. Short of being in the slammer by then, when the Muller report comes out - and it will despite expected Republicans all-out effort to stop it - Trump’s immediate fate will be an open question.
Those disclosures will damage him. Whether it sinks his political future, we don’t know today. But, even if he escapes the crossbar hotel in the short term, he’ll still be damaged goods. We don’t know how the Muller results will play with Trump’s vaunted base. Safe to say, there’ll likely be some erosion.
The second concern is, if Trump’s in the race, which is nearly certain despite investigations and trials, and the Democrats decide on a woman candidate. The rest of us see nothing wrong with that. But, as he’s proven in the past, Trump will attempt to savage her. His previous attacks on Hillary Clinton and Warren guarantee a name-calling, how-she-looks-and-dresses, character assassination tirade. He doesn’t like or respect talented women professionals. Except Stormy.
Based on his previous treatment of women, a campaign based on issues will be completely overshadowed by sexually bigoted vitriol. Which the media will repeat ad nauseam.
A third danger is one I hear too many Democrats and “talking heads” repeating. Dems need “someone who can win.” Forget qualifications. Ignore the lack of experience and other necessary credentials. “We need someone who can win.”
Remember 2016? Trump ran against about the most qualified and experienced woman on the planet. A sure winner, right? And what did we get? A non-experienced, definitely unqualified male. Determining “who can win” in advance of actual voting has repeatedly been proven very difficult. Oh, there’s the occasional nutcase candidate everyone knows will lose. But, that’s rare.
Many of the names Democrats are bandying about at the moment clearly lack the necessary experience and breadth of knowledge we want to see in the White House. On that list, I’d put Harris, O’Rourke, Booker, Castro, Swalwell, Gabbard, Bloomberg and Inslee. Pick one with firsthand experience in foreign affairs, military, international economics and proven diplomatic skills. Good people but in need of a broader knowledge of - and experience in - such things.
The short list of very qualified Democrats, at least to me, has the names Biden and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Especially Biden whose long history in the Senate not only includes the above requirements, but also professional - and in some instances - personal relationships with many world figures. In his own long tenure, Brown has had various committee posts that have proven invaluable. He’s also a low-key, soft-spoken thinker - good skills in themselves.
I’m not proposing Biden or Brown be presidential candidates; only pointing out the kind of well-rounded background a suitable nominee ought to have. Biden comes with his own negatives including a case of plagiarizing in the ‘70's which Trump would use as a political club.
The “someone-who-can-win” approach is a dangerous one. All recent presidents have acknowledged it’s not a “learn-on-the-job” situation. And, regardless of previous political background, they’ve also found the actual conditions of being president were much different from what they expected.
!n 2020, Republicans seem stuck with what they have. Democrats face a much harder path. The “who-can-win” argument versus someone with the all-important experience and knowledge necessary in a good president.
Right now it’s all talk and speculation. But, when the bell rings, Democrats had better have the right man. Or woman. Or both.