Senator Kamala Harris has entered the race for the Presidency. My niece is excited to see her run. I like Senator Harris, but I haven’t decided yet who I’m going to support. Every candidate will have their strengths and weaknesses, and I just don’t know her well enough or any of the others well enough to make any sort of judgement. I don’t believe in perfect candidates.
There are certain questions that I have that I will probably judge a candidate by.
Will that candidate be able to bridge the divide between those working class white communities that support Trump and the minority communities that are threatened by Trump? The Trump presidency has made clear the deep racial divisions in this country. That division is dangerous for the social fabric of this country. I want a candidate who can garner significant support in both working class white and minority communities the way that Eleanor Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy, Jesse Jackson and other liberals were able to in the past. In 2016, Bernie Sanders has shown that a significant portion of the working class white community is open to progressive policies. We need someone who can heal those racial divisions.
Does that candidate have the political skills to outmaneuver the obstructionist tactics of Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership and get legislation through Congress? The two presidents who were able to pass a great deal of progressive legislation, Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal and Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society, were both skilled political operatives who knew how to get things through Congress. I supported Hillary in 2016 because I thought the Republican Party would retain control of the House because of gerrymandering and thought Hillary would better handle the Freedom Caucus than Bernie. I’m a lot more optimistic that the Democrats could retake both houses of Congress in 2020. So I’m more optimistic about the possibility of progressive legislation.
Does this candidate have the communication skills to reach out to the American people and overcome the right-wing noise that will try to tar and feather any progressive legislation? FDR and Kennedy were skilled communicators who could explain to the America public the importance of the Wagner Act, Social Security, Civil Rights, a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In the Republican side, Reagan was easily the best communicator of conservative ideas. Democrats need someone with that sort of communication skill to persuade the American public why progressive policies will benefit all Americans and not break the budget.
Do they have the charisma to inspire the young to public service, the way Kennedy and Obama inspired the young? George H.W. Bush tried to inspire the young to take up community service with his Thousand Points of Light speeches, but he didn’t have the charisma of JFK or Obama to pull it off.
Is the candidate a good manager of people who can effectively administer and inspire the people he or she chooses for their cabinet? Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower were both effective in bringing out the best of their cabinets, without the dysfunction that we saw in the Carter, George W. Bush and Trump presidencies. As bad as the Carter and Bush were in managing their cabinets, Trump has been far worse. We’re going to need a President that is going to have to fix the mess the Trump leaves behind in the White House staffing.
Does the candidate have a good sense of history and can connect the American people to our best values? That might seem an obvious thing. But a lot of politicians have been trying to appeal to our darker side, scapegoating vulnerable minority groups and stoking divisions. I want someone who can appeal to the best in America and not the worse in America.
I want someone who can stand up to Trump without having to get sucked into the mud that he tries to pull all his political opponents into. Watching Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and most of his opponents get caught up in the name-calling with Trump was very depressing for me. I don’t agree with John Kasich’s politics, but I admired how he tried to stay out of that sort of name-calling and just focused on explaining why he should be President. Many people have pointed out to me that Kasich lost. But I think Kasich kept his integrity, which I think is important. I don’t know if this is too much to ask for anyone running against Trump. But I’m hoping it’s possible to retain your integrity and still be able to run an effective campaign against Trump.
Here are some of the candidates I am considering. Right now I’m leaning towards Sherrod Brown, but I’m open to changing my mind and supporting another candidate.
A video on the possibility of a Sherrod Brown candidacy
A video summarizing Kamala Harris’s career
A video assessing Elizabeth Warren’s strengths and weaknesses as a candidate
A video giving a short assessment of Kristen Gillibrand
A video assessing Tulsi Gabbard
A video examining Cory Booker