As I write his we go to the polls in 71 days. At least some of us will: because of COVID 19 many will fill out mail in ballots and either mail them in or drop them off.
I haven’t written much about this because, frankly, it’s been a hard campaign to watch. Campaigns have always shown the differences between the candidates, and often times the divisions. But this campaign has been the worst I’ve seen.
I’ll confess by bias, but in the last 3 1/2 years President Trump has mishandled nearly every event of that time. My greatest fears of his Presidency have come true.
He has alienated our allies and fawned the approval of our enemies. He has exploded both the budget deficit and the national debt. He has chosen to used his power to settle scores instead of advancing American interests.
And finally, instead of listening to smart people about battling COVID he has advanced silly claims (e.g. hydroxychloroquin and oleander). He’s also attempted to divert attention by blaming the Chinese and calling it Kung Flu.
At this point Vice President Biden leads in the polls but I can’t relax for two reasons. First, four years ago at this time I was convinced Secretary Clinton would win and it didn’t. But also I fear that if President Trump is defeated he simply won’t leave the White House.
A few days ago Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was asked if the armed forces would move in if the President refuses to leave (they won’t). But the fact that he was asked the question is telling.
It’s going to be long 71 days (and perhaps longer). Stay tuned.
This morning we learned that Senator Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign. Presidential campaigns are famously marathons and not sprints. Last June I began the Election 2020 Chronicles with two Republican candidates and twenty Democratic candidates.
President Trump was always the presumptive Republican nominee but the Democratic field was wide open. Back then the fear among us Democrats was that the field was so crowded they would strangle each other, or to use a popular image, form a circular firing squad. On February 12th I suggested that Bernie may defeat former Vice President Joe Biden and give President Trump the opponent he wanted.
Bernie famously describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist” and that has always troubled me. A Socialist government owns the means of production and all citizens are government employees. Workers are allowed to own property and choose their jobs but there is no private industry. Critics (like me) of socialism believe that, for instance, if the government owned the auto industry we’d all still be driving Model T’s. Without the competition that Capitalism provides there’s no advantage to improve.
This is not what Bernie suggests. He does want Medicare for all, but even Medicare isn’t socialized medicine simply because doctors are not government employees. But the Republican playbook salivated at the idea of running against a Socialist. They would blow fear into the electorate by claiming Bernie would take all of their freedom away from them. It might have worked.
Now comes the next challenge: convincing Bernie’s supporters to support Joe. When Bernie ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016 many of Bernie’s supporters felt they couldn’t support Hillary because the Democratic National Committee conspired against Bernie. Frankly, they had a point.
My hope going forward lies with the warm relationship between Bernie and Joe. I hope that, unlike 2016, Bernie’s supporters will feel better about voting for Joe. If they don’t we may well have another 4 years of Trump.
Clearly the Election Chronicles 2020 will skew toward the Democrats because only William Weld has the courage to run against President Trump and the Republican nomination is a given.
Less than a year ago I listed 20 candidates for the Democratic nominee and many of us feared that their campaigns would beat up each other and Democrats wouldn’t coalesce, giving President Trump a path to his reelection.
I’m feeling better now.
Early in the race the candidates divided into two camps: moderates and “socialists.” I put socialists in quotations because none of them were true socialists. In a socialist society the government owns the means of production and everyone who works is a government employee. If you’re a doctor you work for the government. If you build cars you work for the government (and there is no Ford or Honda or GM. There is only government built cars). In short there are no private employees.
In any case, in the last month or so several candidates have dropped out leaving the race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. And frankly, Bernie really doesn’t have a realistic path toward the nomination and will probably suspend his campaign in the next few days.
The Biden campaign needs to figure out its next step. Four years ago the supporters of Bernie Sanders felt that their candidate was pushed out unfairly by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment (and in fairness they were right) and many of them stayed home on election day. I hope that Joe Biden can reach out to them and say this:
“OK, I get that your support for Bernie Sanders didn’t end up with his nomination. I get that I’m not your first choice. But I also hope that you aren’t looking for another four years of President Trump. If you vote for me I promise that I will work hard to ensure that you have health care. If we are still suffering from this pandemic I will work hard to ensure that our health care workers are safe and able to care for the sick. And assuming we are still suffering from a recession I’ll work to regain confidence in our economy. I’ve been this way before. The last time a Republican President left office we were in the middle of the Great Recession. The only reason it didn’t become the Second Great Depression was because President Obama and I pushed legislation through Congress that turned things around and started the bull market that the current President claims credit for.”
Overwhelmingly the Democratic candidates who suspended their campaigns have endorsed Joe. Democrats like myself need to joint Team Biden. At the beginning of the campaign I supported New Jersey Senator Corey Booker. I’m not sure why but his campaign never took off. When he dropped out I moved my chips to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The weekend before the California primary Mary Pete suspended his campaign and I voted for Joe Biden.
If you’re reading this I ask that you vote for the person who can defeat Donald Trump.
I had hoped to post after the South Carolina primary on Saturday, February 29th and before Super Tuesday yesterday. Alas, it didn’t happen.
The days since Super Tuesday are all about former Vice President Joe Biden. Before South Carolina many of us assumed his campaign was in trouble because he did poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Nearly from the beginning of the 2020 campaign Democrats have had to choose between two lanes: mainstream and far left. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren advocated dramatic changes in health care and higher education. They weren’t satisfied with the Affordable Care act and student loans: they wanted Medicare for all and student loan forgiveness. Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg argued to continue the President Obama’s agenda. All candidates wished to defeat President Trump and reverse his xenophobia and his disrespect for his office. All candidates pledged to free immigrant children from cages and reverse the policy that demanded that political refugees return to dangerous and filthy conditions in Mexico.
I’m a Democrat in the mainstream lane. I’ve never felt comfortable with Bernie or Elizabeth but I wold have happily voted for anyone who ran against President Trump. That said, I’m thrilled with how well Joe has done since Saturday.
After Iowa and New Hampshire Joe needed not only a win in South Carolina, he needed a big win. He got it. He beat Bernie 48% to 20%. After his win opponents, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar exited the race. This was good news for Joe Biden as both of them endorsed him.
This gave him the momentum going into Super Tuesday and his victory moved him into the frontrunner. In the last few days Pete, Amy, Michael Bloomburg, and Elizabeth Warren have left the campaign. I appreciate their patriotism and their willingness to suspend their campaigns in favor of coalescing around one candidate who can beat President Trump.
The race for the Democratic nominee comes down to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Next week: Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington.
Last night I reported on the results of the New Hampshire primary. Unlike Iowa, these results came to us clearly and soon. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar did well.
To the surprise of many, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren did poorly.
Primaries tell voters who to vote for but they also tell voters who they shouldn’t work for. Since last night we’ve learned that Andrew Yang, Deval Patrick, and Michael Bennett suspended their campaigns. I give props to Andrew, Deval, and Michael while recognizing that none of them saw a road to the White House.
A year ago I looked at Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren as the favorites to defeat President Trump. Now, in February of 2020 it appears neither of them will win the Democratic nomination. Most Democrats will vote for anyone who can defeat President Trump and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have expressed that they will vote for someone President Trump can defeat.
In the next few weeks voters in Nevada and South Carolina will vote. Both states have voters who aren’t as white as Iowa and New Hampshire. We’ll see how our candidates will do with black and brown voters.
On March 3rd I (as a Californian) will have a vote on Super Tuesday.
As I write this the polls in New Hampshire have been closed for 2 1/2 hours. There will probably be more to write tomorrow morning, but I wanted to share my thoughts tonight.
Every four years political parties choose their candidates but in reality only two parties really matter: Democrats and Republicans.
Clearly the Republicans will nominate President Trump and frankly I feel no need to cover his campaign, only because it’s a fait accompli.
But the Democratic field doesn’t give us a path forward. Months ago we expected that Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would dominate.
Bernie has done well in both Iowa and New Hampshire but I think many of us were surprised by the poor showing of Joe and Elizabeth. And I’ve been pleased by the success of Pete Buttigieg.
Pete has limited political experience and he’s openly gay and I recognize that many Americans don’t see him as a viable candidate. But I do. As a moderate Democrat I don’t want us to become socialist and I don’t want a revolution. I just want someone who will reverse the damage of the current administration and give us a path forward to care about the young, the elderly, the poor, and the sick. I want someone that knows we were all once young, we (hopefully) will all be elderly, we may someday be poor, and we will all be sick.
Tonight we learned that Democratic candidates Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet have suspended their campaigns. It’s not a surprise and I’ve been waiting for them and others to suspend their campaigns. For those of us who haven’t voted it’s hard to see the candidates we support drop out, but that’s what happens.
As a Californian I recognize that Nevada and South Carolina will make their choices before I can but I hope that my ballot on March 3rd will give me viable candidates I can support.
I write this post in three categories and suspect that for the next nine months that several of my posts will also join these three.
This past week we learned, to nobody’s surprise, that President Trump was acquitted by the Senate. It didn’t come as a surprise and it’s worth asking why we even bothered.
President Trump and his allies argue that the American people will decide whether or not he remains in office and they have a point. Like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi I opposed impeaching the President after the Mueller report because there was not bipartisan support for it.
But while the Mueller report reviewed interference the 2016 election, we learned in July that President Trump attempted to use his Presidential power to throw the 2020 election in his favor. At that point both Nancy and I recognized that even though he wouldn’t be removed from office, he needed to be impeached.
Make no mistake: President Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the their President announced he would begin an investigation of a charge against Hunter Biden that no adult believed was true. President Trump had no concern for the truth, he simply wanted to create suspicion on one of his opponents.
He won in 2016, in large part, by falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton’s emails were somehow subversive. She was cleared of wrongdoing and all (all) investigations showed she did nothing wrong. But President Trump successfully suggested that “there must be something there” and it was enough for voters in key states to either vote for him or stay home.
Fast forward to 2019: President Trump wants to be reelected, and it’s no surprise as most Presidents want to serve 8 years. But on some level he recognized that he can’t win without foreign interference. And in Ukraine he found his path.
In an impeachment proceeding the Senate are jurors and they voted to acquit the President. But in a larger sense the real jurors in 2020 are the American voters and I pray we show more courage than the 47 Republican senators who voted for their job security over patriotism.
I began this blog and called it “my thoughts and musings” knowing that I’m interested in politics. Blessed by growing up twenty five miles south of Washington D.C. my school field trips took me to the Smithsonian, the Capitol, and Arlington National Cemetery.
But most importantly I grew up reading the The Washington Post. A month after my 12th birthday we read about a burglary at the Watergate Hotel.
It’s a long story but let me edit it here: In 1972 President Nixon ran for reelection against North Dakota Senator George McGovern. While President Nixon’s reelection campaign appeared to be a lock, he demanded that his campaign dig up dirt on his opponent.
President Nixon named his reelection campaign the Committee to Reelect the President. They called it CRP but it quickly took on the acronym CREEP. The committee tried several things to upset the McGovern campaign and most of them either didn’t happen or didn’t work. On the night of June 17th several people working for CRP were arrested in the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate Hotel
Nobody believed President Nixon either planned or knew about the break-in but within a few days it became clear that he used his office to ensure nobody would connect the break-in to his campaign. He directed several people to bribe those under arrest to plead guilty and shut up. By 1974 his actions became public and he resigned because he knew he would be impeached and removed from office.
It was different time. President Nixon resigned after Senators from his own party told him that they couldn’t, in good conscience, vote to acquit him. They recognized that their obligation to their country mattered more than their obligation to their party.
Fast forward to 2020. Like President Nixon, our current President Trump used his office to illegally advance his reelection. Both believed that his reelection would benefit our nation and anything they did in advance of their reelection would benefit our nation.
The facts with President Trump are clear: he threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless its President announced they were investigating Presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Only this time Republicans aren’t recognizing that they have an obligation to their country. They aren’t recognizing they have an obligation to their constituents or the Constitution.
Clearly their only obligation lies in their job security. The Trump administration has made it clear that any Republican who doesn’t support him is disloyal and will pay the price. And he will be acquitted because Republican senators are afraid to cross him.
I pray we can survive this President
Yesterday we learned that California Senator Kamala Harris ended her campaign for President. As a resident of California I have mixed feelings about this. I believe she has represented us well in the Senate but I wished she had spent more time as our Senator. The Democratic race for 2020 is crowded and it’s a given that good candidates would be pushed aside.
I don’t know who will win the nomination next summer but I pray it’s a Democrat who will win in 2020 and 2024. I hope Kamala either finds a place in the next administration or runs in 2024. She has my support.
We Democrats didn’t expect to lose the 2016 election. I spent most of the fall of 2016 telling people that there was no way Donald Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton and we didn’t need to worry about being led by a narcissistic sociopath. I was wrong.
Given that it’s no surprise that several democrats are clamoring to make certain he isn’t reelected. I know this makes people nervous as we democrats have a habit of circular firing squads and they fear that we won’t all unify behind whoever wins the nomination.
I don’t think that’s true. I speak for myself, but I think I speak for others, when I say that I care for nothing more than returning sanity and empathy to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Anyone who is running for the democrat nominee will get my vote.
That said, I recognize that at some point some candidates need to understand that they have no path to the nomination and should step aside. Earlier this month Beto O’Rourke suspended his campaign. He famously ran against Texas Senator Ted Cruz and nearly won. But his Presidential campaign simply didn’t get traction. I liked him and his platform and I wish him well.
I also hope he doesn’t walk away from public service.