Updated 2020 Presidential Lineup

There’s a lot to deal with here, but first: I am on board with two ten-person debates during the June before election year. It’s a preliminary to the preliminaries, and it can be conducted well, but the debate format needs to change in a substantial way. Crowds are not just unnecessary, they subtract from the substance. Debates should be held at round tables in quiet rooms with a good moderator, good lunch, and good coffee. We’d be doing much better as a country if The Hollywood Reporter was in charge of this.

Bill Maher and Seth MacFarlane spoke about debate crowds Friday night on Real Time, and during that same episode Maher cut ten candidates from the Democratic pack. In the spirit of our first lineup, and an NBA offseason that is more entertaining than the games themselves, let’s shape the 12-man Democratic roster. I should note before we start that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the Kevin Durant of the group: They’re both identified with Brooklyn, neither is eligible to play next year, and we all know what’s coming once they are.

The Starters

Point Guard: Elizabeth Warren

She says Fox News is a “hate-for-profit racket.” She calls for Trump’s impeachment on the Senate floor. She visits West Virginian Trump voters, and they applaud. She scores, rebounds, and plays defense.

Warren on African-American economics:

Homeownership is the №1 way middle-class families build wealth, so it’s no surprise that for decades the federal government subsidized the purchase of housing for white families, but denied that to black families.

She wants to get rid of up to $50,000 in student loans for 42 million people, because it slows home ownership and small business creation, and the relief could boost the GDP by over $1 trillion over the next ten years.

She wants public educators in charge of public education. She wants Roe v Wade, humanity in immigration law, and a tax code that benefits the middle-class at the expense of the historically wealthy. She can do it all.

She supports a Green New Deal, and believes it should start with the military. She wants to kill fossil fuel use on public lands with an executive ban on new offshore leases, plus a ban on drilling on government-owned lands. She pledges to restore protections to national monuments, and to create a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps that would put thousands of young people and veterans to work.

We are barely scratching the surface here, folks:

She is the professorial Presidential candidate in the vein of Obama, but she has even more to offer than 44. I called her Bernie 2.0 in the last column, but she’s far closer to Barack.

Shooting Guard: Pete Buttigieg

The man has skills. His big early hurdle regards the non-firing of the South Bend Chief of Police, which is linked directly to his bad polling with African-Americans. I say, give him some time. He will rise, and it makes sense to do so through the Southern church.

For all his substance, Mayor Pete’s most lauded moment of the first debate may have been his admission of failure on the issue of policing and race. I think Buttigieg has already proven himself to be the type of person who learns and becomes better.

Small Forward: Julian Castro

Harris and Warren won their debates, but Mayor Castro had the highest rise in stock. It struck me as a little odd that he didn’t have a bigger Obama-bump from the beginning. He gave the re-elected President’s keynote address seven years ago.

He is the Latino voice that the party and country need, and like Barack told us years ago, he is a vital asset to the team.

Power Forward: Cory Booker

What I love about 2019 Cory Booker is that he adapts to the times:

I have been a fan of Senator Booker for a while. Like Obama in 2004, after watching Booker’s 2012 convention speech I was convinced he’d be POTUS some day.

He’s the only candidate I’ve donated to so far this season. He’s unlikely to get the nomination, but I’m invested in the long-term. He’s a starter for several seasons to come.

Center: Kamala Harris

Senator Harris is great, and this is the simple reason why she will hold a starting spot all season:

The daydream of Trump marching off a debate stage before the second commerical break is my heroin. Kamala is the Mortal Kombat character of the squad. If she doesn’t win the nomination she will be the nominee’s running mate. If she can’t take down Trump directly she’ll do it through Mike Pence.

The Bench

Veteran Leadership: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar

This is Bernie at his best:

This ad gives some much needed color to the Sanders 2020 campaign. I was surprised more people didn’t find Bernie a little boring and repetitious back in 2016, but he is finally starting to take some heat for it this time around. It is true that repetition of a good idea is a good thing, but over the span of four years one need realize that people know your feelings on certain topics word-for-word. We agree on the rich, Bernie. There is a lot more to talk about in a lot more detail.

Speaking of 2016, this was obviously Biden’s time to run. He didn’t because he wanted Hillary to have it, but it didn’t work, and now his time as a star player has passed. It’s underrated what a historically bad decision it was.

The truth is that Vice President Biden is cognitively past his prime. Also, the more this primary goes on, the more I wonder if what he did during his younger years warranted his star status in the first place. He’s a frontrunner in polls, and his support from the black community shows how inextricably linked he is to President Obama — who could not be more beloved in America with Trump as his counterpoint — but Joe is simply not as good as the other good candidates.

As for Senator Klobuchar, she is intellectual like Warren and Harris, but not quite as much. Nor does she have the swagger that they do. Klobouchar deserves to be on the stage, but she has no chance at the nomination. A high-level cabinet position is likely for her future.

Former Starters Relegated to the Bench: Beto O’Rourke

Julian Castro is just a better version of the Texas Democrat than O’Rourke. Beto’s anecdotes have gone from erudite to awkward, from heartfelt and captivating to forced and saccharine. Beto had a substantial moment during last year’s Senate race, and he has not lost that. He has a future in governing, but he still has plenty to prove in a leadership role. Run for Senate again, Beto.

Skilled Enough to Earn a Roster Spot, Under Serious Evaluation: Tulsi Gabbard, Bill de Blasio

These two spots on the team are open and highly competitive, so they’re the most debatable. Every political criticism boils down to evil or dumb; Tulsi gets the former and Bill the latter from their own party, but I don’t agree with that…yet. I look forward to hearing more.

12th Man: Jay Inslee

He’s a one-issue candidate, and that issue is saving the motherfucking human race from itself. He will always have a spot on my team with his Alpha approach to conservatives on climate change. Trump and the rest of the party’s denial and ignorance on dirty energy must be eradicated with proactive plans.

Somebody has to do the work, after all.

[Read Part 1 and Part 3]

Medieval, Environment, Modern Lit and Critical Theory

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store