by Tom Hicks – a resident of Montpelier, VA, a USNA graduate, former nuclear submarine officer, engineering consultant and a former Democratic Candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 1st Congressional District. Follow him on Twitter @tomhicksva1
I am not one for the dramatic, but the 2020 presidential election decision will be the most consequential in several generations. Accordingly, the predecessor decision involving the selection of a Democratic Party candidate to challenge President Trump will be similarly momentous. As one Democratic candidate recently stated, “we can’t screw this up.”
The circumstances driving this significance involve the fear that our country could experience another four years of a president that has caused grave damage to the office of the presidency, abused his power for his own self-interest, denigrated long-standing government institutions, strained relationships with allies, fostered ethnic and racial divisions, and promulgated Russian initiated conspiracy theories about election meddling. A second term for President Trump could bring our country to the breaking point. Given the consensus view that the president will be acquitted in any impeachment trial, the 2020 election is the only mechanism remaining to end this executive office travesty.
This means that the Democratic Party’s choice for our presidential candidate is all that much more important. The good news is that we have a large number of highly qualified Democratic candidates with noticeable variances in background, experience and policy proposals. The bad news is that this large selection of candidates has made it more difficult for many primary voters to focus in on a preferred choice. This perceived indecision has been cited as the reason for two more late entrants into the race this past month. The important message here is that we Democrats need to take the time to educate ourselves regarding what each candidate offers. This presidential primary race might be the most significant any of us will ever experience and it deserves our heightened attention.
The televised debates are a useful tool to assist in our decision-making process, but they only provide a small window, a snapshot, into each candidate’s suitability, strengths and weaknesses. To effectively screen the candidates more time is necessary to review speeches, voting records, editorials, and policy proposals. We owe it to each other to put in the research time, pick the best candidate, and rally to support that candidate in 2020. The stakes are enormous. History will look back at this critical time and pass judgment regarding our decision.
The media has often simplified the Democratic Party’s choices as two paths: revolution or gradual improvement. I believe the choices are more subtle. Polls indicate that the main goal of Democratic primary voters is to defeat Trump – although most Democrats also want significant action on healthcare, education, the climate crisis, and infrastructure. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have spoken out for big structural changes, while former President Obama recently articulated concerns that Democrats risk alienating voters if the 2020 primary choice is too far to the left.
After considerable study, my personal choice is Senator Amy Klobuchar. Her experience, intellect, integrity, Midwestern roots and moderate policy proposals indicate to me that she is best suited to take down Trump, unify the country and govern to a brighter future. Some of my Democratic friends whom I respect have different opinions. That’s democracy. But the election process only works if we support our basic civic duty with candidate research. Let’s roll up our sleeves and make posterity proud of our 2020 selection.