Is There A Winning Choice?

By

Leonard Zwelling

So, who would you run against Donald Trump?

A good and fair question.

The choices seem both vast and varied, male and female, black and white, gay and straight, east and west, north and south. That’s not the question.

If life is like a box of chocolates—and it is—why is there no guide under the lid of the Whitman’s Sampler to tell you where the good ones are?

Democrats are in a protracted process to identify the person or persons capable of mounting a real challenge to the sitting president. Remember, the upending of an incumbent president is rare in modern times. The last to fall victim to an upstart challenge was George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter before him. (Gerald Ford was never elected so I discount Carter’s win over him). That’s it since WWII. Both of them were sitting on stagnant economies and that is certainly not the case with Mr. Trump right now, although we shall see. The stock market is taking a hit of late.

How can anyone beat a sitting president when unemployment is below 4% and the economy is doing fine so far?

We may have a special case today.

Neither Mr. Carter nor Mr. Bush 41 lost the popular vote when first elected. They were clear winners in 1976 and 1988. This was not the case with Mr. Trump in 2016.

Neither Mr. Carter nor Mr. Bush excoriated minorities, immigrants, Muslims and whole swaths of society as Mr. Trump does and neither 39 nor 41 offended the sensibilities of so many Americans. Mr. Trump is a different case and will have to be dealt with as such.

Neither 39 nor 41 were in toe-to-toe trade wars with the other large economy on Earth, China. That trade war is roiling the world markets and destabilizing that stable economy to which I referred.

What would it take to beat Mr. Trump?

First, the candidate must be seen as something new and different with fresh ideas and a pleasant way of speaking to people.

Second, extreme views will probably not work. The country is exhausted from Mr. Trump’s antics. I think the U.S. needs some calm and quiet. Soldiers need to be brought home. Trade wars need to end. Firm enunciations of our principles need to become the norm. Gun violence must be curbed. Health care inequities and infrastructural needs must be addressed. We need to re-establish good relations with our overseas friends and make it clear to our enemies that we are neither their buddies nor their patsies.

Who among the two dozen people running for the Democratic nomination can do that?

In short, none of them. We are not seeking to choose the president we KNOW can do the job, but one we hope and think can do it because the man who has the job now cannot do it. That’s for sure.

I think some combination of a man and a woman on the ticket, neither of whom is over 75, both of whom reflect reasonable policies and great intelligence, both of whom have prior experience at governing and one of whom has actually run something bigger than a Senate office would be ideal.

After that the two must run a deft campaign based on the Electoral College not where the money is. Spending lots of time in California and New York may feel good, but the Dems have those two states. It is the upper Midwest, Florida, Georgia, Texas and the southwest that deserve the full attention of the Democratic hopefuls.

You pick: Booker, Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Inslee, Bennet, Warren, Castro in some combination of the two. It may not really matter, but it cannot be Biden. Too old. It cannot be Bernie. Too irascible. Marianne Willimason has inspirational ideas, but she’s no politician and has never held office. Look what that has gotten us currently.

Somehow this gets sorted out, probably in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s a terrible way to choose a team to challenge a tyrant, but that’s what we have.

My pick? Anyone who can win.

Leonard Zwelling