Dem debate: swamped with virtuous candidates

There were so many qualified-seeming candidates on the two nights of the Democratic debate it was actually a relief to find one or two I didn’t find especially prepossessing.

It was, to begin, a veritable orgy of diversity. Women candidates, “black” candidates,” brown” candidates, a candidate both female, black and the other sort of Indian.. A tan female Polynesian hindu surfer. A gay man. Candidates short and tall,; old, young and in between. (All seemed clearly of one traditional gender or another, but who really knows?)

There was even an attractive, well-spoken woman I had never heard of before identified as, of all things, an author. An author!? Talk about diversity.

And yet, amid the diversity, a reassuring amount of agreement about the important issues.

It’s a shame to have to choose. I would be happy enough to be governed by any of them. (It’s true my bar for presidential material has noticeably drooped in the last couple of years.) What if Democrats were to decide to run a panel of candidates instead of just one person?

I’ll be glad when the field begins to thin. We’ve been drowning for months in candidate announcements and a surfeit of emails asking us to chip in 5 or 10 bucks to one wonderful candidate or another, or for this or that special election in some other state upon which the future of the country hangs.

All good, progressive people and causes, but coming at us this way, scattershot from numerous sources, they’re confusing and uncoordinated, the progressive energy dissipated. The daily deluge has become annoying enough that for the most part I’ve stopped responding, waiting for liberal fundraisers to get a little more organized.

I know it’s the American Way of doing things, this election chaos. But it would be reassuring to know that in addition to running their own self-interested campaigns these political leaders are conferring with each other about the priority of getting rid of the current threat to what we are having a harder and harder time referring to with a straight face as “our democracy, ”

The big question, all seem agreed, is which platform is more likely to achieve that aim? moderate/centrist vs. libveral/progressive? The fear is that all the p rogressive candidates will leave moderates behind. But most of the energy and excitement generated by the Democrats is being generated by Medicare For All, Green New Deal, etc. And the fact is, these are not extreme positions, as they are being fearfully characterized. Most people have come to believe that healthcare is a human right (well, when you put it that way!) and Medicare for All is the only program that addresses that.

Green New Deal is not radical and unrealistic but in fact the only idea to seriously address the climate crisis.

I totally get the comfort factor with good old Joe Biden. But on the stage his comfortableness came out blandness juxtaposed to sharper, newer ideas delivered by fired-up proponents.

We certainly want to be as inclusive as possible, and not frighten away moderates. But it’s a real question: can Democrats really win with such stirring slogans as:

Let’s just fine-tune Obamacare—it’s better than nothing.”

Let’s reverse Trump’s trashing of EPA go back to the old stuff that itself wasn’t nearly enough.”

Bring back the status quo that got Trump elected in the first place.”

Can a centrist platform be made to generate at least as much enthusiasm as Trump does for his racist, zenophobic, fear-mongering, right-wing populism?

There was unanimity among the 20 on the stage about the need for regime change. I would be comforted to know that while pursuing their individual ambitions to be our savior, they will put their smart and diverse heads together and , with the help of pollsters, academics and stratagists, sort it all out and come up with the candidate most likely to get the job done.


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