The First Obligation

The more things change it seems the more they stay the same. Decades ago one of my best political teachers, the late John Maloney, taught me that the first obligation of a politician is to win. Because if they didn’t they couldn’t do themselves, their party or their causes any good. Mr. Maloney (and I never called him anything else to his face or behind his back) was correct then and still is to this day. With that in mind, let’s explore.

I consider myself to be a practical progressive. I will not betray my principles but I am willing to compromise on them a bit. Sometimes the best you can get is someone who generally thinks like you and will vote like you would; that is the core idea of representative democracy. I am a Democrat and almost always support Democrats because, in what is effectively our two party system, that is the closest I can get to a pure progressive and see a progressive agenda enacted.

I consider Donald Trump to be a plague upon America – and much of the world for that matter. Denying him a second term is paramount! Long ago I gave up on the 25th Amendment being invoked, (I’m not sure I ever thought it was much of a possibility with this Cabinet). I won’t completely rule out impeachment or a forced resignation but as we keep getting closer to November 2020 those possibilities appear more unlikely. Saving America may well fall on the shoulders of the American voters.

I’m supposed to be among the political pundit class. I’m certain many expect me to be a politically philosophical purist, unwilling to compromise my progressive values. As outlined above and in previous articles I’m sorry to disappoint you on that matter. However I find I do resemble to Democratic primary electorate at large in that my top concern is that the 2020 nominee is electable. Whether Trump survives or some radical right alternative is in his place (i.e. Mike Pence) electability of the nominee is the number one factor. Simply put if they can’t win in November they are useless. This isn’t the Olympics and second place gets you nothing.

If you think this is going to be my endorsement article you are going to be disappointed. I am far from that point. However, this is the month of the first Democratic debates and it’s time to start paying attention. To date most of the candidates have the same basic platform; that is no surprise to me. I have a top tier in my mind and have already mentally eliminated several mainly because I can’t see them winning or think they are grossly unqualified. One of those I have eliminated would surprise most readers. I just can’t see him generating the turnout and withstanding the negative ads. (The use of the pronoun “him” is the closest you are getting to a clue.)

While a progressive platform is a must in order to get my support, if I don’t think a candidate is electable I certain will not endorse them in the primary. I am among the many that are already willing to stipulate that they will back the eventual Democratic nominee. What do you want me to do, vote for Trump or some third party challenger with no chance of winning? The former is harmful to America and the latter is a wasted vote that would probably the former win.

The current field of over 20 candidates is unsustainable and will start to thin. The first culling will be the debates later this month. As you watch them ask yourself what candidates can win in November of 2020; I’ll be asking myself that same question. I view it as my first obligation this time around.

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