Leading up to the 2019 Virginia elections, I of course was following the 2020 Democratic presidential campaigns, but my focus was overwhelmingly on working towards the goal of winning back the Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate for Democrats, plus winning a bunch of important local races here in Virginia. Now that we’re past 11/5/19, and quite successfully at that, I’m starting to focus more on 2020 – crucial elections for U.S House of Representatives, U.S. Senate and, of course, the White House.
Now, just to be clear: I don’t currently have a candidate for president, and I’m not sure when I will have one. For now, overwhelmingly, my focus is on trying to figure out who has the best chance of beating Trump. Wait, you ask, you mean you don’t care about the candidates’ positions on the issues, what kind of president they’d be, etc? Nope, not at all; it’s just that my strong feeling right now, given the existential threat posed by Trump and the Trump Republican Party – to the nation, to our democracy, to the entire planet – that *winning the damn election* is paramount, above all else. Because, frankly, if we don’t win this election, everything we care about is toast anyway, and if we don’t win back the Senate, good luck getting anything remotely progressive passed, etc. And, by the way, I’m pretty sure that’s what President Obama was getting at last night, when he said, “the candidate’s job, whoever that ends up being, is to get elected.”
So with that intro, check out the following audio, in which Virginia State Sen. Dave Marsden (D-SD37)’s Chief of Staff, Matt “Politidope” Rogers – someone whose political acumen I greatly respect, and someone who, like me, hasn’t currently selected a 2020 candidate – ranks the leading candidates in terms of who has best shot of defeating Donald Trump in November 2020. According to Matt Rogers, the ranking (on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is “slam-dunk they’ve got it” and 1 is “we’re dead in the water, [Trump’s] reelected”]) goes like this:
- Bernie Sanders: 5
- Joe Biden: 4
- Pete Buttigieg: 4
- Kamala Harris: 4
- Elizabeth Warren: 3
- Deval Patrick: 2 (note: I believe Rogers ranks Patrick so low because he just got in the race and, basically, how’s he going to win any delegates to even be the nominee?)
Why does Rogers rank Bernie Sanders a 5? It’s an interesting argument:
“…the Democratic Party for years and years had not offered a compelling narrative. Donald Trump exposed that this country is populist at its heart. Now, he’s offering fake populism, but there is a hunger out there for people to cut the bullshit, tell me what you want to do, even if I disagree with you. Republicans don’t like Trump, but they don’t feel like he’s bullshitting them, even though he *is* bullshitting them…For the partisans, the folks who vote every election, come hell or high water…those people are your steady-hand voters, they’re looking for you know steady leadership, and you can convince those folks to vote, you can battle over those folks. But there are a lot of people who don’t care about this stuff day to day, and you have to offer a message how are you gonna change my life? What is going to go and vote for you, what does that benefit me? Why am I going to interrupt my normal day? I usually don’t do this kind of thing. I’m definitely not gonna go and canvass for you, you can forget about that; I’m gonna go and vote. And how are you gonna change my life?…The worst mistake we can make, and this is not a shot at Joe Biden, who I do think would clean [Trump’s] clock, I think he would beat him handily, but we cannot as a party make our decision based on just…[what] the statistics are saying…You cannot just choose this based on what the numbers are telling you…They have to have a movement behind them, because if we don’t excite people, Donald Trump could – I know that he’s probably gonna get about 95 percent of the votes that he got last time and that’s his floor.”
Now, I don’t fully agree with this, because in the end I think that voters *are* going to turn out against Trump this time around, probably in droves (at least if the 2017-2019 election results are any indication). Still, I *do* agree that Democrats need to give people a clear, powerful reason, along the “how are you gonna change my life” line, for why do to vote FOR the Democratic candidate, not just AGAINST Trump or the Trump Republican candidate. Does this have to be “populist,” whatever that word means exactly (and on that topic, I strongly recommend the book, “What Is Populism“)? No, I definitely don’t think so. But does it have to be compelling and credible, even if it’s sort of vague, like Obama’s “hope and change”/”yes we can!” 2008 campaign slogans. And, I’d argue, the candidate ideally should be appealing, not just to hard-core partisan Democrats, but also to the types of people who Matt Rogers describes above as “don’t care about this stuff day to day.”
With that, feel free to weigh in about your thoughts on the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign – who are you supporting and why? are you paying close attention? what are the most important factors you’re considering? Thanks.
P.S. In the end, I’m 100% in the camp of people who say “Vote Blue, No Matter Who” – because, again, we absolutely *have to* win this election.