Many decades ago, I got my first horse racing introduction with a friend who said he was “experienced” in horse racing. I knew nothing about it so figured this would be an education.
An “education” it was.
We walked to the paddock area where horses for the next race were on display. I watched and listened to my “experienced” friend and those around us as they sized up the animals. It wasn’t long until my “education” expectations died.
“Look at the color of that Chestnut,” someone said. “He’ll win.” “Oh, that brown horse - I’ll bet on him,” was heard. Another “expert” liked the green and gold jockey’s outfit. Another “winner.”
That racing experience of long ago came to mind after watching the last Democrat presidential “debate.” And the ensuing “expert” commentaries. There were many parallels.
“This one’s up, that one’s down.” “For an unknown, she made some good points.” “Not much experience but handled himself well.”
Sounded like the “experienced” racing crowd.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say these crowded “horse shows” mean nothing. But, they don’t mean much. The minority of Americans who care to watch and listen can see their favorites in action and watch the rest of the crowd. Others at least learn the names of the previously unknowns. And who will be unknown again before the 2020 election. But, if you’re watching for substance or decision-making, well, good luck.
Debates don’t win presidential elections. Oh, there was that Nixon-Kennedy debacle in 1959. Kennedy cool and articulate. Nixon with five o’clock shadow and sweating like an NFL down lineman in an August exhibition game. Might have been some significance in that. But, debates 18 months ahead of elections, don’t count for much. Remember Clinton-Trump debates? She got three-million more votes than he did but he won in the Electoral College. Winning is not done in debates.
Several things have been disappointing in these free-for-all’s. For me, it’s the things that haven’t been said. What must be done quickly - and massively - about climate change? How to undo the immigration shame wrought by Trump. What about homelessness and housing people can’t afford? What about the VA health care mess? How to stop or at least clean up gerrymandering which is a proven cancer in many of our elections? What can be done effectively to stop foreign governments from screwing with our elections. None of these - none - have been addressed. As the old gal said, “Where’s the beef?”
We’ve been “treated” to attacks, prepared ad libs, snarky comments about him or her and lots of meaningless chatter about this and that.
Even criticism of Barrack Obama - a guy the finalist is going to need big time before November.
Most of those faces now peering out from the crowd on stage will be gone in a few weeks. They won’t be able to raise the necessary money, create a large enough staff, be able to get thousands of volunteers “on the ground” in 50 states, compile the massive data base necessary for communications with voters and more. And those are the things - the absolutely necessary things - needed to survive. Warren, Biden and Sanders either have those things or can get them in short order. None of the other 17 has or can.
One bit of mystery getting my attention has nothing to do with debating. Obama and Eric Holder are deeply involved with something called the National Redistricting Committee - a vehicle they created to deal with gerrymandering congressional and legislative districts and to undertake such other “related political affairs that may be of interest.” They’ve got reps in most states and I’d guess turning the organization to a candidate-backer would be just a short step.
Both gentlemen are keeping low profiles at the moment. Except Holder’s well-publicized warning to Democratic “debaters” last week not to keep attacking Obama. Given Obama’s well-known 50-state grassroots history, and Holder’s proven abilities of effective organizing, those two may be the secret weapon necessary for a Democrat victory in 2020. I’m keeping an eye on them.
As for “debates” over the next 16 months or so, well, if there’s little “beef” and more personal attacks, they won’t mean much. If the subjects listed above - and a few others - aren’t addressed with some creative thinking and solid plans, it’ll just be talk, talk, talk. We - the voters - won’t have what we need to make intelligent choices.
And, don’t forget, the changes necessary in our elected federal government won’t mean a damned thing if Democrats win the White House but don’t take the Senate. If “Moscow Mitch” or some other Republican is Majority Leader in 2021, we’ll have four more years of nothing. Just more stalemate and division.
We’re not seeing real debates. We’re watching those old horse displays with people instead of nags. We’re watching a beauty contest. The real issue isn’t who “won” or “lost” the last gab fest. It’s who among them has the savvy and the ability to quickly mount a successful winning campaign with all the absolutely necessary tools.
Warren, Biden and Sanders are in for the long haul. It really doesn’t matter who you “like” now or who looks good. The real issue is can we all get together behind the name on the ballot in November, 2020? Can we turn away from our favorite of the moment to cast a ballot for someone else when it counts? Anyone else.