Home 2019 Elections Letter to My Fellow Virginia Democrats: Our Inescapable “Electability” Challenge

Letter to My Fellow Virginia Democrats: Our Inescapable “Electability” Challenge


Dear Fellow Virginia Democrats,

I’d like to share with you my thoughts about our Primary Election that’s now only two days off. The first thought is about how most of us Democrats have no responsible choice but to focus on the issue of “Electability,” and to do our best to judge how the various candidates stack up.

“Most of us Democrats” — meaning that great majority of Democrats whose over-riding priority, according to the polls, is to defeat Donald Trump, to wrest the powers of the presidency out of the hands of this dangerous man.

(And this should be our priority, for the stakes are the preservation of American democracy the good of the whole world, in which the United States) used to be “the leader of the free world,” and the “world’s indispensable nation.”)

Getting the powers of the presidency out of Trump’s hands means that the task of this moment is to maximize our chances of defeating Donald Trump in November’s election.  That means trying to choose that candidate who will be strongest in the 2020 Presidential election. Which means we are compelled to judge the chances of the various candidates of getting enough Americans to vote for them against Trump, i.e. their Electability.

We are obliged to do our best to make that judgment.

That making such a judgment is necessary for us to make does not prevent it from also being impossible, at least with any degree of certainty.

I could make a plausible and possibly true case both for and against any candidate’s electability. And I don’t know which cases would prove true.

(I know my judgment could be wrong– as it was in 2016 when I felt confident that Trump could never get enough Americans to pull the lever for him to win the election. That misjudgment about Trump’s Electability taught me that there are real limits to how much of what goes on in the American public I am aware of.)

So we are in the unusually challenging position of having to make a judgment on things we’re not in a very good position to judge.

But that doesn’t mean, as I’ve heard various prominent commentators suggest, that we should just forget about “Electability,” and just vote according to our dearest desires.

That’s a cop-out, giving the task at hand. However difficult it is, we’ve just got to do our best to judge, vote according to that judgment — and accept our uncertainty.

I’d like to share my own effort to do my best at making that judgment.

In a companion piece How the Urgent Need to Defeat Donald Trump Has Compelled Me to Change How I’ll Vote Tomorrow,”  I share how the events in South Carolina — seen in terms of how to maximize the Electability of our nominee — have caused me to change how I plan to vote.



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