I’m not going to make any friends today and I’m going to upset some of my readers. I have some advice to give the Democratic Party that I liken to taking a medicine that is not tasty. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, the experience isn’t pleasant, but you are better off in the not too distant future. Here I go.
I am not prepared to make an endorsement for the 2020 presidential race. It’s way too early even for a historically early endorser like me. (Don’t expect one until early 2019 at the soonest.) I, like many, still have my list of about 20. Today, even though I have tremendous respect for them, I want to eliminate two and beg them not to run. It has almost nothing to do with platform. It has everything to do with Party image and age. I speak of former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. In fact I’m asking them not to run because I fear they could win the primary and would certainly muddy the waters in what I expect to be a large initial field.
With the possible exception of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden would have the best resume of any Presidential candidate since John Quincey Adams. If you go back and take an objective look at the 2008 Democratic primary you will have to reach the conclusion that Biden won the debates. That is saying a lot; remember that field included Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
If there is someone on the political landscape whose platform I agree with even more than Joe Biden’s it is Bernie Sanders’. Philosophically I’m of that far left persuasion. Sanders and I have almost identical goals; I’m just more realistic about the chances and methods of achieving them.
What I want both to do is assume the roles of elder statesmen of the Party. They need to raise funds and issues while motivating volunteers and voters. I don’t want them to fade from the scene. They need to assume roles more akin to coaches than players. Whoever the nominee is they have a much better chance of success if they have Biden and Sanders on their team!
The Democrats are faced with three challenges, two of which I want to focus on today. The Party looks too old. The leadership is almost exclusively of retirement age. The most energized I have seen the Democratic base for a Presidential election was in 1960 for 43 year-old John F. Kennedy and in 2008 for 42 year-old Barack Obama. Biden will be 76 on Election Day 2020 and Sanders will be 79. With America as politically polarized as it is we will need all hands on deck and every voter to win in 2020.
The other challenge is getting a clear and concise message out. Not being Donald Trump (or Mike Pence) is a good start but we also have to let the voters know what we stand for. The challenge there is that Trump in particular is a three ring circus and covering his antics sucks up all the media oxygen. The more volunteers and top notch surrogates we have (that very much includes Biden and Sanders!) the better our chances of press coverage and victory will be.
The third challenge is mutual to both Parties (the fact that young people, in particular, reject Party labels). Fortunately for us the Republicans have a lot of additional problems, starting with a plethora of harmful policies.
It is time for the old guard of the Party to pass the baton to a younger generation. Go young, old Party.
It has become my practice to take the end of the year off from writing. Therefore today’s article was written well before publishing.
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