Tammy Duckworth

Suggested disqualifiers before Campaign 2020 begins

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth ranks first in our list of viable Democratic candidates for 2020.

If the Democratic Party is truly going to be progressive, it is important that those who seek the presidency in 2020 walk the progressive walk instead of just talking the talk. Specifically, this means that hypocrisy must be reduced to a level that is equal to or is less than that of Jimmy Carter when he ran for president in 1976.

One of the reasons why Hillary Clinton was easily dismissed by so many Democratic voters was because of her coziness with Wall Street and her comfortability in shilling for money. Similar behavior by Barack Obama undermined his support among progressives. It would behoove any Democrat running for the presidency in 2020 to use the Bernie Sanders method of raising small dollar amounts from millions of people. In this case, integrity and practicality go hand-in-hand.

This means that Cory Booker must kiss the pharmaceuticals good-bye and Adam Schiff the same with Parsons Corp. “The Hill” reports that Kamala Harris is now the darling of the “Democratic donor class” and that brings with it all kinds of hazards which serve to unravel a progressive persona.

For 2020, a candidate needs to commit him or herself to spending time with voters who have little or no connection to the financial elite.

Recently, we analyzed some basic demographic information on 44 possible Democratic candidates for president in 2020. These candidates come from a list constructed in early June, 2017 by the Washington Post and The Hill.

We have established four basic criteria for suitable candidates for president in 2020. They are:

1. A candidate must have progressive bona fides. The Democrats are not going to win by being “Republican-lite.” More importantly, a “Republican-lite” agenda is not good policy. Democrats must understand that good policy makes good politics. It worked for Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Among other things, they both addressed issues of income inequality and that may well be the number one issue that the nation faces now.

2. Not only does a candidate need to restrict from whom he or she receives financial support, but it is equally important to not subsume oneself in the world of the rich and mighty. Yes, there are very wealthy people who have a balanced view of society such as Warren Buffett . But these are people who would rather meet with you in their own living room or office rather than for cocktails at a club in the Hamptons.

3. The candidate has to be youthful. As a septuagenarian, I realize this is a disqualifier for my contemporaries, but with the exception of Bernie Sanders (who will be 78 in 2020), it is difficult to find progressives who understand Millenials and those younger. These are the people who Democrats need to bring into the fold in order to win and also to educate for long-term policy initiatives.

4. Psychological fitness. Nothing is more difficult to quantify than this and we know that the American Psychiatric Association has adopted the “Goldwater Rule” which states “it is unethical for psychiatrists to give a professional opinion about public figures they have not examined in person.” But the experience that we all are having with Donald Trump as president shows us that ideology and even character become irrelevant when someone is psychologically unstable and dangerous to others.

What do we mean by psychological fitness? Here are three factors for starters for political candidates:

a. Being aware of hypocrisy. This means that a person needs to be on the “irony channel” – having the ability to see the absurdity of much of the behavior that is presently part and parcel of politics. Perhaps the best example of someone who has this awareness is Minnesota Senator Al Franken.

b. Being confident, but not arrogant. A good example of this would be California Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.

c. Being comfortable in one’s own skin. Since FDR, there seem to be only two presidents who meet that criterion, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama. Jimmy Carter would be a runner-up.

So, from the list of forty-four, here are seven to consider who might qualify. Unfortunately, with most of them there are already tight ties with entrenched moneyed interests. We’re hoping that they can realize that in the internet era, campaigns can be very inexpensive. The web also presents the best opportunity for a campaign to go viral. It should be a badge of honor to not snuggle up with the “Democratic donor class.”

With humility, here is a list of “magnificent possibilities,”

1. Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth
2. Minnesota Senator Al Franken
3. California Senator Kamala Harris
4. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom
5. California Congressman Adam Schiff
6. Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick
7. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

For additional thoughts on this topic, see Reece Ellis’s post in Occasional Planet.