2020 Presidential Lineup
About a week ago ABC released the lineup for its first Democratic debate of 2019, to take place Thursday.
The participating candidates have been in my top ten for a couple of months now, so bravo to ABC for knocking off the dead leaves while we head into autumn. The question is, has the warm September tide begun to turn?
Joe Biden fell drastically in the most recent Monmouth poll.
This is an apparent outlier, as most polls show Joe sustaining a healthy lead. One can only wonder if a tumble down a shore-side cliff is looming for the gaffe-prone elder statesman. Even when compared to fellow septuagenarian Senator Bernie Sanders, Vice President Biden appears to be cognitively weaker that his Democratic counterparts. It’s nothing compared to the decrepit brain of Trump, mind you. Joe was sharper than I expected him to be on his most recent Late Show appearance.
At the very least Mr. Biden is a necessary replacement to the current POTUS, but in spite of his popularity, the former VP is not the best candidate to combat the adderall-infused-schoolyard-bully-in-chief.
Who is the best candidate? Here is an updated list — a first and second team to lead in post-Trump America. Why use an NBA award format to rank the candidates when there are no other basketball references in the column? Because no one likes sports metaphors. The template alone is plenty.
Here are the best Democrats in the race:
PG: Pete Buttigieg
As a Midwestern millennial homosexual Christian Rhodes Scholar war veteran, Mayor Pete carves out an enticing and all-encompassing lane for 2020. Despite his age, he is certainly one of the most intelligent candidates on stage. He is poignant yet relatable; classy yet unabashed. Even though he is fifth or sixth in most polls, he has risen to the pack of front-runners in a short amount of time. Through June, he raised more money than any other candidate with $24 million. He could be the best crossover candidate, considered by Midwest conservatives and independents nationwide, but the fact that he isn’t higher in the polls after raising so much money is not a great sign so far. His style is one of deep-thought and sincerity — a great match to the juvenile mind and behavior of Mr. Trump. If his money leads to greater momentum like it should, and he wins Iowa, Buttigieg just may get the chance.
SG: Elizabeth Warren
Senator Warren is a machine on policy. She is marching toward the nomination with a large following that is growing by the week, most recently shown in New Hampshire, the second state to vote in February’s Democratic primary. A win over her racist rival in November 2020 would make her our first woman President, and would result in the sweet, storybook justice that Never-Trumpers so desperately deserve. Like Sanders, she is the scary socialist, deemed the liberal enemy of the people, but the reality is that her policies would help the pocketbooks and lives of middle and low-income Americans most. The real question in the run-up to February is, how does she differ from Bernie? My guess is it will come down to the intangibles of personality, stamina, and wit. On second thought, who are we kidding? It will come down to who raises the most money. Through June, Warren raised around $19 million to Sanders’ $18 million. The next round of fundraising data that is released will be telling.
SF: Julian Castro
He is the strong Latino voice that the Democrats need. He is an intelligent confidant of President Obama, and he is ready to take down Trump head-to-head.
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He’s beneath second-teamers Biden, Harris, and even Andrew Yang in the polls, so it doesn’t look like there’s a lane for him to take the nomination this time around. Regardless, he is doing himself and his party a favor with his voice. The important point is that Castro would be a good POTUS, and he’ll be in the running for decades to come.
PF: Cory Booker
Senator Booker is the second Rhodes Scholar of the bunch, and brings a similar energy that both Buttigieg and Castro bring: They are young, intelligent minorities who are ready to lead a new America into the future. Back in 2012 I thought Booker would have a great chance to become the second African-American President in coming elections. He has climbed a couple points in recent polls, but like Castro, 2020 doesn’t look to be his year. Booker is the leading candidate against gun violence and white nationalism, and his combination of brains, strength, and stamina make him perpetually one of the best options to lead the country.
C: Bernie Sanders
What are the differences between Sanders and Warren, you ask? Sanders supporters are doing their best to frame the difference. Their argument is that Warren would “compromise with what they see as the ‘establishment’ if elected,” but this is a stretch.
Bernie’s battle with Hillary Clinton in 2016 got ugly, with cries that the DNC rigged the primary. Ironically, Elizabeth Warren herself agrees this took place.
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Are we in for another contentious battle between the final two? Probably, but as long as we can exclude official party corruption from the equation, this is the nature of political campaigns on any level. Bernie’s real concern is that his battle with Warren cancels out both of their chances at the nomination, paving the way for Biden, Buttigieg, or Harris.
PG: Kamala Harris
She is consistently polling top five, she is a great head-to-head match-up for Donald, and she has the smarts and toughness to do the job well. As the Attorney General of California, however, her record on criminal justice is questionable.
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On the campaign trail, Harris has sometimes allowed her desire to be agreeable get out ahead of her actual values and opinions.
This leaves her outside of my first team, but the good news for Harris is that the polls disagree.
SG: Beto O’Rourke
After floundering a bit to Julian Castro in the June NBC debate, things were not looking good for Beto. Castro aimed to lock town the Texas voice for Latinos, at that moment, and it worked.
Then the white supremacist mass gun murder in El Paso happened, and it brought out the resilient and relentless fighter within the Congressman. This is the new Beto:
He has been appropriately viscous to Trump and the entire population of racist America ever since. As a result of his genuine display of compassion and anger toward American gun culture, Congressman O’Rourke is still in contention.
SF: Andrew Yang
Yang has one major thing going for him — math. We have questions, and Yang has answers. He’s famous for his stance on Universal Basic Income (UBI), but he shows a Warren-esque potential to be thoroughly progressive. He’s made the biggest leap over the past month versus the field, and he deserves it. His emotional intelligence may be as strong as his policy ideas, which means he isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
PF: Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar is the quietest of the top-ten, but that doesn’t change how substantive and pragmatic she is. I think the Senator may suffer from some sexist optics issues. America’s reaction to Hillary v. Trump showed how problematic it is for a woman to win the highest office. As far as we know, Klobuchar could be the most productive and successful of the lot were she to become POTUS. She’s considered by some to be the best centrist alternative to Joe Biden.
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Unfortunately for the Senator, there isn’t a likely reality where this happens. I’m just glad she’s still on the stage…
…most of the time.
C: Joe Biden
The Monmouth poll may be an outlier, but millennial and young Gen X voters hope it’s a sign of things to come. The problem is that older Gen X voters and Boomers come out in greater numbers, so a Biden loss in the end would by all accounts be an upset.
Here is Biden at his best:
Who is Biden at his worst? He has his reoccurring gaffes: There are the war stories with incorrect details, or his mishandling of racial and socioeconomic phrasings, or his unsolicited touching of all ages and genders when he speaks at town halls. It’s not great, but they are all non-issues compared to the lying, racist, rapist holding office today.