It seems to me….
“Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.” ~ Gore Vidal.
As of 22 July 2019, there were 791 candidates who had filed to run for U.S. President in the 2020 election. Many of these who had filed were running as members of the Green Party, Libertarians, as independents, etc. and have an extremely low probability of gaining any appreciable backing. It also might seem, however, as though most registered Democrats, some quite well known, have declared their candidacy, most of them also will not be able to mount a viable campaign. Most will consequently drop out of contention relatively quickly.
Democrats’ success in the 2018 midterms was largely powered by moderate candidates in conservative suburban districts where college-educated white women, in particular, swung against Trump’s brand of politics. While still difficult to say who might be the Democratic nominee; Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, and Booker appear to have the highest probability. The split between progressives and moderates in the party is real – especially on the question of healthcare. Voters demand an alternative vision but it is not apparent how accepting they are of more progressive alternatives. Regardless of preference, voters strongly desire stable leadership, a unifying vision, and a path out of the darkness.
The primary concern of most Democrats is to defeat Trump. Trump promotes division with racist appeals, detention camps for migrants, and an exclusionary vision of national identity. While not politically correct to acknowledge bigotry, it will be a mostly unstated factor in the general election. The extent to which it will influence the election is unknown but must be considered given Trump’s history of constantly using it to his advantage. This it is not who we are as a nation but, if not, who are we instead?
Of those generally considered actual possible contenders, more than 40 years separate the youngest candidate, 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, and the eldest, 77-year-old Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (who, along with Biden, 76, is older than President Donald Trump and every living president except Jimmy Carter). Most of the candidates whose brief bios are included in this summary are therefore not necessarily considered to be viable and, in fact, some have already withdrawn or suspended their campaign.
Michael Bennet (D), U.S. senator from Colorado
Born: 28 Nov 1964 (age 54), New Delhi, India
Education: Wesleyan University (BA: History), Yale University (JD)
Pros/Cons: considered a moderate. Is an environmental activist. Backs reforms on campaign finance, gerrymandering, and lobbying.
Joe Biden (D), former U.S. Vice-President, senator from Delaware
Born: 20 Nov 1942 (age 76), Scranton, PA
Education: University of Delaware (BA: History, Political Science), Syracuse University (JD)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Biden’s pitch to voters is moderation, electability, and a callback to the Obama Administration. He seems old and his platform out of date. Times have changed but he has not.
Bill de Blasio (D), mayor of New York City
Born: 8 May 1961 (age 58), New York, NY
Education: New York University (BA: Metropolitan Studies); Columbia University (MIA: International Affairs)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Opposes income inequality. Backs education and immigration reform.
Cory Booker (D), U.S. senator from New Jersey
Born: 27 Apr 1969 (age 50), Washington, D.C.
Education: Stanford University (BA: Political Science, MA: Sociology), Queen’s College, Oxford (MA: U.S. History), Yale University (JD)
Pros/Cons: progressive. Backs the Debt-Free College Act. (I disagree with his plan to invest $1,000 in a Treasury account for every baby born in the U.S. at birth to either pay for college or buy a new home at the age of 18.)
Steve Bullock (D), governor of Montana
Born: 11 April 1966 (age 53), Missoula, MN
Education: Claremont McKenna College (BA: Politics, Philosophy, and Economics), Columbia University (JD)
Pros/Cons: centrist. Backs campaign finance reform, infrastructure improvement, and environmental action. Opposes universal healthcare.
Pete Buttigieg (D), mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Born: 19 Jan 1982 (age 37), South Bend, IN
Education: Harvard University (AB: History and Literature), Pembroke College, Oxford (BA: Philosophy, Politics and Economics)
Pros/Cons: moderate progressive. Favors Medicare for all. Opposes free college but backs student debt reform.
Julián Castro (D), former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development. Mayor of San Antonio, Texas
Born: 16 Sep 1974 (age 44), San Antonio, TX
Education: Stanford University (BA: Political Science and Communications), Harvard University (JD)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Backs environmental reform, comprehensive immigration reform, and universal healthcare. Favors two years of college to be free.
John Delaney (D), former U.S. representative from Maryland
Born: 16 Apr 1963 (age 56), Wood-Ridge, NJ
Education: Columbia University (BA: Law), Georgetown University (JD)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Favors limited universal healthcare, two years of free college, and cancellation of some student debt.
Tulsi Gabbard (D), U.S. representative from Hawaii
Born: 12 Apr 1981 (age 38), American Samoa
Education: Hawaii Pacific University (BSBA: Business Administration)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Supports Green New Deal, free college, and college debt relief.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D), U.S. senator from New York
Born: 9 Dec 1966 (age 52), Albany, NY
Education: Dartmouth College (BA ?), University of California, Los Angeles (JD)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Supports Medicare For All and Green New Deal. Says college should be more affordable. Backs the Debt-Free College Act
Mike Gravel (D), former U.S. senator from Alaska (withdrawn)
Born: 13 May 1930 (age 89), Springfield, MA
Education: Columbia University (BS: Economics)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Supports universal healthcare, military spending reductions, free college, and college debt forgiveness.
Kamala Harris (D), U.S. senator from California
Born: 20 Oct 1964 (age 54), Oakland, CA
Education: Howard University (BA ?), Hastings College (JD)
Pros/Cons: progressive. Crusader for justice, backs the Debt-Free College Act, co-sponsor of Medicare for All bill, and Green New Deal.
John Hickenlooper (D), former governor of Colorado (withdrawn)https://www.hickenlooper.com/
Born: 7 Feb 1952 (age 67), Narberth, PA
Education: Wesleyan University (BS: English, MS: Geology)
Pros/Cons: centrist. Expand Affordable Care Act. Two years of college free. Supports nuclear power.
Jay Inslee (D), governor of Washington
Born: 9 Feb 1951 (age 68), Seattle, WA
Education: University of Washington (BA: Economics), Willamette University (JD)
Pros/Cons: conservative. Primary issue is climate change. Opposes Medicare For All. Favors career training over college.
Amy Klobuchar (D), U.S. senator from Minnesota
Born: 25 May 1960 (age 59), Plymouth, MN
Education: Yale University (BA: Political Science)
Pros/Cons: conservative. Claims national debt is too high to offer free college program; has supported policies to reduce the financial costs of college and student loan debt. Opposes universal healthcare and Green New Deal.
Wayne Messam (D), mayor of Miramar, Florida
Born: 7 Jun 1974 (age 45), South Bay, FL
Education: Florida State University (BS: Management Information Systems)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Supports cancellation of some student debt and Affordable Care Act extension.
Seth Moulton (D), U.S. representative from Massachusetts
Born: 24 Oct 1978 (age 40), Salem, MA
Education: Harvard (BA/MA: Business and Public Policy)
Pros/Cons: conservative. Supports free two years at community colleges.
Richard Ojeda (D), state senator from West Virginia (withdrawn)
Born: 25 Sep 1970 (age 48), Rochester, MN
Education: West Virginia State University (BA: General Education), Webster University (MA: Business and Organizational Security)
Pros/Cons: conservative. Backed Trump in 2016. Favors Affordable Care Act repeal and replace.
Beto O’Rourke (D), former U.S. representative from Texas
Born: 26 Sep 1972 (age 46), El Paso, TX
Education: Columbia University (BA: English)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Supports universal healthcare. Favors expanding Pell Grants and promoting trade schools.
Tim Ryan (D), U.S. representative from Ohio
Born: 16 Jul 1973 (age 46), Niles, OH
Education: Wheaton College (BS: Mathematics), Southern Mississippi (MS: Sport Administration), Texas A&M (PhD: Sport Management)
Pros/Cons: progressive. Endorses tuition and debt-free college. Co-sponsor of the Medicare for All Act. Supports climate-change legislation.
Bernie Sanders (I), U.S. senator from Vermont
Born: 8 Sep 1941 (age 77), Brooklyn, NY
Education: University of Chicago (BA: Political Science)
Pros/Cons: progressive. Seeks to expand movement he built in 2016 but now sounds like a broken record playing the same message as four years ago with relatively nothing new to offer. One of the original backers of student debt reform and affordable education.
Howard Schultz (D), Chairman of Starbucks (suspended campaign)
Born: 19 Jul 1953 (age 66), Brooklyn, NY
Education: Northern Michigan University (BA: Communications)
Pros/Cons: centrist. Would hold colleges responsible for student debt.
Joe Sestak (D), former U.S. representative from Pennsylvania. Three-star U.S. Navy admiral
Born: 12 Dec 1951 (age 67), Secane, PA
Education: U.S. Naval Academy (BS: American Political Systems), Harvard University (MPA: Public Administration, PhD: Political Economy and Government)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Expand access to early childhood education. Restructure federal student loans. Restore the Affordable Care Act.
Tom Steyer (D), founder of Farallon Capital Management
Born: 27 Jun 1957 (age 62), New York, NY
Education: Yale University (BA: Economics and Political Science), Stanford University (MBA)
Pros/Cons: moderate. Primary issue is impeaching Trump. Environmentalist. Favors single-payer healthcare.
Eric Swalwell (D), U.S. representative from California (withdrawn)
Born: 16 Nov 1980 (age 38), Sac City, IA
Education: University of Maryland (BA: Government and Politics, JD)
Pros/Cons: progressive. Backs Medicare for All. Advocates no-interest federal student loans and debt-free college. Supports Green New Deal.
Donald Trump (R), U.S. President
Born: 14 Jun 1946 (age 73), Queens, NY
Education: Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (BS: Economics)
Pros/Cons: conservative. Opposes any improvement in student assistance. Advocates Affordable Healthcare Act repeal.
Elizabeth Warren (D), U.S. senator from Massachusetts
Born: 22 Jun 1949 (age 70), Oklahoma City, OK
Education: University of Houston (BS: Speech Pathology and Audiology), Rutgers University (JD)
Pros/Cons: progressive. Has staked campaign on wonkiness and economic populism. Probably strongest backer of student debt reform.
Bill Weld (R), former governor of Massachusetts
Born: 31 Jul 1945 (age 74), Smithtown, NY
Education: Harvard College (BA: Classics), Harvard (JD)
Pros/Cons: libertarian. Favors state control of Education. Would cut taxes and increase Medicaid access.
Marianne Williamson (D), author and lecturer
Born: 8 Jul 1952 (age 67), Houston, TX
Education: No Degree
Pros/Cons: (undetermined) A popular self-help author who skillfully mixes fact and less than factual information. No political background or experience. Favors free college via public service and student loan amnesty. Would make Medicare for All a public option.
Andrew Yang (D), entrepreneur and author from New York
Born: 13 Jan 1975 (age 44), Schenectady, NY
Education: Brown University (BA: Economics)· Columbia University (JD)
Pros/Cons: (undetermined) Supports Universal Basic Income. Would require colleges to cut administrative costs. Backs nuclear energy. Favors single-payer healthcare system and banning circumcision.
Trump has attempted to equate all Democrats with the so-called “Squad” – a quartet of outspoken freshman Representatives who have become champions of the party’s rising left wing: Ilhan Omar of Minnestoa, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All women of color, all 45 or under. Trump is wrong in his claims as the Squad represents neither the Democratic majority in the House nor the Democratic mainstream; the party’s rank and file are older, more moderate, and more numerous than its online-activist faction. Hopefully, voters will not be taken in by Trump’s equivocations but he has successfully misled voters in the past and will likely attempt to do so again.
Four years ago, I considered Trump the least qualified Republican candidate and extremely unlikely to survive the first primary. While Hillary Clinton was obviously the most experienced and qualified candidate from either party, she had been a public figure for too long and strongly disliked by many Republicans. If Trump thinks he is being harassed, he is right but has brought most of it on himself by actions he has taken such as failing to release his tax returns. Perhaps he should consider himself fortunate compared to Hillary Clinton who was one of the most persecuted persons in recent history: special prosecutor investigation lasting years (who only determined that Bill Clinton did not tell the truth about having sex with an intern), multiple repeated Congressional investigations…. All of which concluded without finding anything illegal.
Now, Trump still remains the most unqualified candidate and least suited to be President with Marianne Williamson possible now sharing that rather dubious distinction. Voters displayed extremely poor judgement four years ago, partly resulting from Russian interference, swinging the results to Trump (though he lost the general vote by several million votes).
It remains to be determined who will be the Democratic candidate but the campaign will be sufficiently long to tire even the most ardent activist. Hopefully, this time the most qualified candidate will be selected.
That’s what I think, what about you?
 Eugene Luther Gore Vidal was an American writer and public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing.
 Presidential candidates, 2020, Ballotpedia, https://ballotpedia.org/Presidential_candidates,_2020.