An Even Dozen Democratic Candidates

[ Posted Monday, March 4th, 2019 – 18:52 UTC ]

And then there were twelve....

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote about the Democratic presidential field, and we've had a few announcements in the meantime, so it's time once again to quickly run down who is running for president and who is not. If you think the answer to that first question is "pretty much everybody," well, you're not alone in thinking that. We're likely only about halfway through the announcement season, and we've already got a wealth of Democrats to choose from. It's already gotten to the point where sitting down with a blank piece of paper and listing them all is tough for even the wonkiest among us to do (I just tried this, even after I had been browsing the Wikipedia page on the subject, and I only managed to remember 11... I forgot to list Gillibrand...). And this is likely only going to get harder to do, as more and more people decide to jump in.

Before we get to parsing the lists, though, one notable name has taken himself out of the running. Eric Holder just announced that he's going to continue working with former President Barack Obama on fighting the gerrymandering problem nationwide, and will not be running for president. I never really thought he'd have much of a chance, so to me this was a welcome announcement. Plus, I fully support what he and Obama are attempting to do, so I'd rather he spend his time and energy focused on that.



Before we get to the main list, we should take a quick look at who is still playing coy with the possibility of a run. Of course, there's one name on this list who rises far above the others, at least if the polls can be believed. Former Vice President Joe Biden is already leading most of the polling, without even announcing a run yet. Now, you can argue that this is just a function of name recognition, and I'd probably largely agree with you. But it's not just that -- I think that a whole lot of Democrats really wanted to see Joe run the last time around, and that he's still riding that wave of affection within the party.

For whatever reason, though, Biden is a force to be reckoned with. He's seen as having fairly solid progressive values while still commanding the respect of Midwestern blue-collar workers. Bridging that divide is the ultimate dream for 2020 Democrats, and Joe's already there. So he's got his positioning down pat before he even begins.

Biden's drawbacks, at this point, are twofold. Firstly, he has taken some positions in the past (on bankruptcy laws, Anita Hill, etc.) that are not too popular in today's Democratic Party. Secondly, he is prone to gaffes. The first of these may not be insurmountable for Biden, since most of the now-unpopular things he's said or done happened decades ago. We're talking about his performance back in the 1990s, as a senator, for the most part. Time hasn't healed all the wounds, but he's shown more recently that he's got the ability to get out in front of issues that other Democrats were still dragging their feet on (most notably, talking Obama around on gay marriage).

As for Biden's gaffes, I really don't think they'll be as important this time around as they have been in the past. I mean, consider who he will run against should he win the nomination. Donald Trump is an absolute wellspring of cringe-worthy statements and tweets, issuing them on a daily (sometimes hourly basis). So Biden's gaffes might work against him during the Democratic primaries, but they'll be almost meaningless in the general election when stacked up against the mountain of Trumpian gaffes. That's just my opinion, mind you, but I really think that in the Trump era such things can't be seen anymore as being as important as they once were.

Biden isn't alone on the sidelines, however. There are a host of senators and governors and mayors also considering their own bids. Here's a list of the ones that I think might actually eventually decide to run (Wikipedia has an even longer list, but these are the names that now seem to me to be at least semi-serious about launching a bid):

  • Michael Bennet
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Steve Bullock
  • Andrew Cuomo
  • Bill de Blasio
  • Terry McAuliffe
  • Beto O'Rourke

Out of all of those, I'd bet that at least Bennet, Brown, Bullock, and O'Rourke will eventually throw their hats in the ring. The others may too, but those would be my first picks of who is really serious about running, at this point.


First Tier

Moving on to those who actually are running, as mentioned we've now got an even dozen. Fully half of these are sitting senators: Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Since the last time we ran down the list, two governors have jumped in the race: Jay Inslee of Washington state, and today's announcement from Colorado's John Hickenlooper. Rounding the list off are two House members (John Delaney and Tulsi Gabbard), one former cabinet member (Julián Castro), and one mayor (Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana). We're going to limit our three tiers this week to declared candidates, even though there are a few names (O'Rourke and Biden, most notably) who would likely enter the race in the top tier.

As the race stands, however, I can only see three top names leading the field. Bernie Sanders has already raised a jaw-dropping amount of money from his army of small donors -- $6 million raised in the first 24 hours of his candidacy, and $10 million in the first week. Nobody else even comes close to that level of solid support from the base. Bernie is being treated as somewhat of a has-been by the Washington punditocracy, but they have to grudgingly admit that Bernie and his supporters just refuse to fade quietly into the woodwork. Bernie just held his first rally, and is leaning a lot more on his personal story this time around, so we'll see if that helps endear him to a wider slice of the electorate. The numbers that truly frighten his opponents are that out of all his donations a tiny slice (something like 20 out of over 200,000) have already maxed out their donations at the legal limit. This means Bernie can get future donations from them as well, which is a valuable thing to have as a candidate. The other impressive number is that something like 40 percent of Bernie's donors are not already on his donor list, meaning that more people are now supporting Bernie than in his previous run -- a sign that he's convincing more Democratic voters to get behind him.

Second and third in the top tier are Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Harris still has a ways to go in the name recognition department, but she seems to have won over one very important audience -- the Washington pundits all love Harris. Her campaign launch has been very smooth and impressive (second only to Bernie's), and she's currently the darling of the chattering classes inside the Beltway. This counts for a lot, because it means a ton of free press coverage, and so far most of it has been very positive. I'm not entirely sure why Harris was picked for this role (she's got less Washington experience than a lot of other candidates), but for the time being she seems to be the person the pundits love to measure all the other candidates against. This may not last, of course (the pundits are notoriously fickle in this area), but for the time being it's doing Harris a lot of good.

No matter what all the rest of the candidates think about their own stature, Elizabeth Warren is really the only other candidate who already has a high degree of nationwide name recognition. Nevertheless, she persisted, right? So far her campaign has been pretty smooth, although she's garnered less press than Sanders and Harris. The punditocracy, however, declared last year that Warren had zero chance -- none at all, mind you -- because of her DNA video. They have not changed this perception much in the meantime, so every single article written about Warren brings the Native American issue up, often in the first two paragraphs. So, unlike Harris, media attention hasn't done Warren much good. The voters don't seem to care all that much, of course, and Harris still has her own army of devoted fans within the Democratic rank and file. She regularly polls in second place, behind Bernie (or, technically, in third place, because Joe Biden holds the number one spot without even being an actual candidate yet), so she's unquestionably in the top tier.


Second Tier

I haven't changed the second tier from the last time I wrote a rundown of the field, although I am now limiting it only to those who have declared a run (which left Michael Bloomberg out in the cold). All three are senators -- Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar. A case could be made for Booker and Klobuchar to be included in the top tier, and a case could also be made for Gillibrand to be moved down to the third tier, but right now I think they're all currently in the middle of the pack.

Booker just got some media attention for reintroducing his sweeping marijuana legalization bill in the Senate (he did so last year, as well). Most of the other Democratic candidates immediately jumped on board -- those in the Senate cosponsored the bill, and those who aren't vocally supported it. This represents a shift from 2016 and before, when many Democrats (especially those on the national stage) were far too timid to support outright legalization. But the days of hedging your stance ("I do support medicinal marijuana, but I'd like to study the legalization issue further...") are gone. With 10 states selling legal weed, this ideological battle is essentially over, at least within the Democratic Party. Booker deserves at least part of the credit for this transformation. But although he and his campaign are trying hard, Booker still has yet to get to the point where most Democrats across the country even know who he is.

Amy Klobuchar seems to be doing better on the name recognition front. Not unlike Kamala Harris, this is largely due to attention from the Washington media. Klobuchar is seen as "leading in the moderate lane," at least by those who buy into the whole "lanes" metaphor. She is seen as a counter to the more progressive candidates, and much more pragmatic than all the dreamers within the party. I'm not sure how much she really deserves this mantle, but time will tell whether she lives up to it or not. Klobuchar has also garnered some very negative press from left-leaning media organizations, perhaps because she is currently seen as the strongest moderate candidate to challenge whomever the progressives decide upon. Her supervisory attitudes towards her staff, in particular, have been put under a microscope (do a web search on "Klobuchar salad comb" if you haven't seen any of this yet). Even with all this attention (good and bad), though, Klobuchar still hasn't quite cracked the top tier yet. And the danger for her is that the Washington media will drop her in favor of naming Biden the most moderate candidate in the race, once he announces.

Kirsten Gillibrand is still running for president, but like Booker and Klobuchar, she hasn't really made a name for herself among the Democratic electorate yet. In fact, I am on the brink of demoting her to the third tier, because a sitting senator (especially one essentially hand-picked by the Clintons) should really have made more of a splash by now. For now, she's still in the second tier, but when the field widens even more she may fade further into the background.


Third Tier

The first two in this list may eventually rise to at least the second tier, but it's really too early to say that yet. Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper are both Western governors, and they both have the potential to gain some media attention in the next few weeks. For now, though, most people are still learning their names and where they're from.

Inslee is staking out a single issue, and he hopes to own it in the race. His candidacy is going to be all about climate change, he has announced from the very start. His record in Washington state isn't pristine in this regard, but he can probably overcome it by talking about what is possible politically versus what really should be done. At least, that's what he's hoping. Climate change has always been a somewhat-important issue for Democrats, but rarely the single issue people vote on. This could now be changing, with the Green New Deal in Congress and the increasing urgency of the issue (especially after Trump dropped out of the Paris agreement). So we'll see whether Inslee can make a real name for himself in the already-crowded field by concentrating on climate change above all else.

John Hickenlooper just jumped into the race today, so he also is going to have to try to get his name out there in the next few weeks. He's seen as a pragmatic, get-things-done kind of candidate, although his record (like Inslee's) on the state level hasn't been perfect. His name is pretty unique and hard-to-forget, once people learn it, so that could be a plus in a crowded (and hard-to-remember) field. Until Biden jumps in, Hickenlooper might give Klobuchar a run in the "pundit-named most moderate candidate" category. But he'll have his work cut out for him to get anyone else to pay attention to him, in and amongst the other eleven running.

Which brings us to the real "in and amongst" list, the other candidates that are running but not gaining much in the way of media or popular attention. There are four candidates on this list: Julián Castro, Pete Buttigieg, John Delaney, and Tulsi Gabbard. Only one of them has ever held a national office (Castro was in Obama's cabinet), and none of them have yet achieved national name recognition. Again, this could always change, but for now they have to be seen as "the pack" that everyone else is running ahead of. They're all running for one clear goal, at this point, and that is to qualify for the first Democratic debate. They hope to use this platform to launch themselves onto the national stage.


Of course, all of this is subjective -- it's just one man's view. Others will divide the field in other ways, using other metrics. Look for talk of "the lanes" to increase, that's my prediction. But for now, I'm content to measure the candidates solely on how well they are doing in getting their names out there. There will be time enough later to dig into their relative positions on all the important Democratic issues.

The 2020 Democratic primary race is going to be one for the ages, that much is already certain. It will break records for the number of candidates running and the width and breadth of the field. We've already got the most diverse field that has ever run for a presidential nomination.

Three out of the twelve candidates -- one-fourth of them, in other words -- are minorities: Booker, Harris, and Castro. Five are women, including four of the six senators running: Warren, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, Harris, and Gabbard. One is openly gay: Buttigieg. Only one-third of the candidates are straight white males: Sanders, Hickenlooper, Delaney, and Inslee. That's remarkable, and the field continues to grow.

So far, the biggest names in the Democratic universe have remained silent (both Obamas and both Clintons). This is a good thing, because it allows for a completely unfettered field. In the absence of such "machine politics," what you get is a wide-open race with plenty of people convinced that it is their turn on the big stage.

As I previously said, I believe that the "announcement season" is only about half over, personally. I think we've likely got about two more months to go before the field really does solidify -- and even then we could see one or two very late entries into the race.

Numerically, if we're only halfway there, we'd wind up with an astounding 24 candidates to choose from. The first debates are set for early summer, and will be limited to 20 candidates (a maximum of 10 for each of two nights). This may be the first winnowing of the field, but we're a long way from that happening at this point. For now, we're still in the "more the merrier" phase. If I had to guess, I'd say that by the next time I write about the race, Michael Bennet, Sherrod Brown, and Beto O'Rourke will all likely have announced their bids. And, of course, possibly Joe Biden as well. Biden's announcement will be the most earthshaking event so far in the race, so whenever it happens it'll change the entire field in an instant.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


34 Comments on “An Even Dozen Democratic Candidates”

  1. [1] 
    Kick wrote:

    Earlier today, Beto O'Rourke called for federal legalization of marijuana.


  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    sanders may call his donor base "small" donors, but to my knowledge not one of them has baked a single pie. for shame, bernie.

  3. [3] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    It could be some of those lesser known individuals mentioned (third tier denizens) are hedging their bets, just in case Biden suffers a total existence failure and decides not to run. It goes without saying, if (when) Biden commits, it dashes more than one hope. It's encouraging that the field is diverse in age, ethnicity and gender, but I still think, after the Clinton 2016 debacle, the DNC will go with what they see as their best bet to beat Trump. It's highly unlikely they'll proffer a minority or female candidate, I see running-mate as their lot. As I said before, it's not that I don't think these people are capable, it's more that the US electorate are once bitten twice shy when it comes to the top office.

    On the bright side, Trump and his adherent's are too smug by half. After Trump was done humping the flags at the CPAC redneck-a-rama, he went on a gibbering trope about how easy it will be for him to win in 2020, regardless of who runs. I do hope his automata-like rabble see him as a shoe-in, and remain at home on election day....shit, they seem to believe every other delusion he shares with them.


  4. [4] 
    TheStig wrote:

    There is no way you can have anything like a proper debate among ten candidates. It will end up being a game of gotcha, with victory or defeat being a matter more of luck than skill. A proper debate has 2 debators and a moderator. If you just want a lottery, hold a lottery.

    With twenty prospective candidates you could hold two games of pick up basketball...if you could just figure out how to dribble an idea down court and toss it into a hoop.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe we should revive the idea of national political party conventions for national office. Politics is all about power brokerage, the making and breaking of alliances along political fault lines. Conventions did that pretty well, even if they were pretty raucous. Modern politics is more like a fight to decide who controls two big marketing agencies who will sell just about any product.

  5. [5] 
    TheStig wrote:


    You could sell small pies on a convention floor. A delegate's gotta eat, and pie is its own container.

    James T. C.

    What is the proper way to get grease and armpit stains out of a flag? I believe the correct answer is to burn it. Trump is a serial flag desecrator. Why are ultra conservatives not getting the vapors over this?

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    I am surprised that flag didn’t set itself on fire after being assaulted.

    And Trump only LIKES our flag... can you imagine what went on in Vietnam when he was with someone he LOVES and who loves him just as much!?!? Or worse, when he was alone with Putin — well, that brought back up a little of my Mexican dinner!

    I am fairly certain that the crowd at CPAC are the same people who get caught hosting “fight club” events between the mentally challenged patients in their care.

  7. [7] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Trump the Chump. Trump's only flag aversion seems to be the red ones that go up every time his personal finances hear reveille...


  8. [8] 
    John M wrote:

    Among the third tier candidates, I have to say that Steve Buttigieg is the only one that I have seen on more than one talk show so far, appearing on the morning news shows, The Late Show, and The View, for example.

    [3] James T Canuck

    "On the bright side, Trump and his adherent's are too smug by half. After Trump was done humping the flags at the CPAC redneck-a-rama..."

    [6] ListenWhenYouHear

    "I am fairly certain that the crowd at CPAC are the same people who get caught hosting “fight club” events between the mentally challenged patients in their care."

    Did anyone else notice that CPAC this year was a virtual Who's WHO of White Supremacist attendees, including some of the most overt racist speeches ever given?

  9. [9] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    This country needs a constitutional amendment prohibiting the public mention of presidential politics more than 90 days ahead of the election.

    I fully expect the Democratics to start discussing prospects for 2024 before the year is out!

  10. [10] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    NY 22
    The candidates could each name their favorite pie and then we'll see which one sells the best.

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    JTC - 7

    4 U.S. Code § 8 - Respect for flag -

    (d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.)

    Like I said earlier, why aren't our SUPER PATRIOTS at CPAC (aka "The real Comic Con") having the vapors over Trump's habit of serial public flag mauling? If this is how Trump behaves in public, what other outrages is he subjecting poor old Gloria to in private? Oh, the horrors!

    Given his history, has Trump bought the silence of The US Flag with a nondisclosure agreement? If so, how many digits are in that agreement? Congress should ask Cohen about this.

    I cannot believe Old Gloria is a cheap floozy willing to accept a little "slap and tickle" from the Prez without resistance Old Gloria should get on the phone with Avenatti. She ought to perfectly capable of this because according to the US Flag code:

    J) The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.

    A living thing, or a care giver to a living thing, ought to be capable of phoning or texting legal council.

    Just for the record, the Supreme Court has ruled U.S. Code § 8 to be unconstitutional, but that has never stopped any Super Patriot from making a fuss before.

  12. [12] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Please clarify whether Bernie's 20 maxed out donors is 20 donors out of 200,000 donors or 20 donors out of 200,000 donations.

    You keep mentioning this as somehow being impressive which it is not as it has only been a week or so.

    It is the equivalent of the box of Italian Ice I saw in the supermarket that said "Fat Free!" on it. Of course it's fat free- it's sugar and water.

    It does show that Bernie is willing to accept money from large donors as well as small donors.

    After the 2016 primaries there were some former Bernie staffers that said there was disagreement as to whether Bernie should encourage citizens to give small contributions to congressional candidates in 2016 to change the whole system and make it more than just aboot his presidential campaign but those that felt this would leave less money available for contributions to Bernie's campaign won out.

    Perhaps this is an issue that one of the candidates could use to differentiate themselves from other candidates.

    What if one candidate were to say I am going to make this aboot changing the whole system and not just my campaign by running a real small donor campaign and not a small contribution campaign disguised as a small donor campaign.

    I will limit the aggregate of amount of contributions from any donor to my campaign to below the legal limit at 200 or even 500 dollars.

    I encourage any of my supporters that can afford to and want to contribute more than this limit to my campaign to instead contribute that money to other candidates that make this commitment for Congress, the Senate, state and local offices and even any of my opponents in the Democratic primaries should they join me in this commitment.

    These candidates do not have to be in your district or state as the Big Money interests contribute all over the country so there is no reason that small donors should not also support each other across district and/or state lines.

    This will ensure that you are helping citizens that can only afford small contributions instead of making a large contribution to my or any campaign that you may be making with the best of intentions but that provides cover for large donors that that do not have the best of intentions.

    If a candidate does not have any large donors citizens will not have worry aboot the intentions of any large contributors to that candidate because there won't be any large contributors.

  13. [13] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    @ Stig 11

    I hear there is a "grab her by the tassels" tape out there. ..

  14. [14] 
    Paula wrote:

    Regarding candidates, I agree with this:

    There are two things that will not happen between now and Inauguration Day, 2021: The Senate Republicans won’t become responsive to citizen pressure or presidential cajoling, and the Democrats will not get enough votes in the Senate to end a filibuster on their own.

    Any presidential candidate who promises to accomplish anything legislatively needs to explain how they’ll go about overcoming this problem. They’ll need a better answer than the ones Sanders and Hickenlooper have provided thus far.

  15. [15] 
    Paula wrote:

    A rather compassionate look at Amy Klobuchar's anger problem - more so than the headline suggests:

    Discusses her alcoholic father in context of Minnesota culture. Leaves the impression AK has risen above a traumatic upbringing but with scars...

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I'm going to file your link under 'tell us something we don't already know!'

    So, what pray tell IS the answer to this legislative dilemma for a progressive - or even progressive-lite - agenda?

  17. [17] 
    Paula wrote:

    Another good piece:

    Pfeiffer, by contrast, said that Democrats need to realize who they are dealing with, without mirroring their opponents’ tactics.

    “This is not to say that Democratic voters or Democratic activists demand that we become like McConnell and Trump,” he said. “It is that we recognize who McConnell and Trump are and adjust our strategies as such.”

    [16] Liz: Adjusting/ending the filibuster is a start. Other tactics being considered: increasing the number of judges on the Supreme Court - which has been done before. Also Supremes currently are exempt from ethics rules judges below them must follow - change that. Consider term limits for Supremes too. Impeach bad judges.

    Pass statehood for D.C.

    House Dems are embarking on several investigations - see them through.

    There will be more ideas - we have to see what the terrain is like when we get there. But it starts with a willingness to recognize damage already inflicted, and by whom. No more "let's look forward, not back". No more "I have lunch with this guy so I'll overlook the fact that he goes on the Senate floor and accuses all Dems of supporting infanticide" bullshit.

    Apparently Jay Inslee came out strong on this - I now want to hear more about him. And Elizabeth Warren is "take no prisoners" which I love about her.

    Bottom line: GOP has to be treated like the corrupt criminal-enabling institution it is - nothing less will be enough.

  18. [18] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Funny, I see it all differently:

    We KNOW who Repubs WANT to run against: Bernie. The idea of running against a bona-fide socialist is just too mouth-watering for Repubs. Makes them hard.

    Then you've got women, blacks - sorry, but Trump would love to run against any of them, too. Wouldn't have to lift a finger.

    I think the guys that you've put at the bottom of the pile have the stuff to beat Trump. Biden, the Governors, and Brown are the stiffest competition, because any can catch fire among the Trump base.

    Now, unfortunately, the Trump base votes last, so these guys will have to hang through some pretty horrible primaries (then again, the first few primaries aren't that good for progressives) to get to the 'good' part.

    So Dems have a choice to make: do they want progressive policies, or do they want to beat Trump? The answer is what this is all about.

  19. [19] 
    Paula wrote:

    [18] Balthasar: Disagree.

    Today Quinnipiac released a poll showing:

    Trump approval: 38-55 Committed crimes before becoming president: 64-24 Committed crimes while president: 45-43 Believe Cohen over Trump: 50-35 Congress should investigate Cohen claims: 58-35 h/t Greg Sargeant

    Poll results at:

    And historian Kevin Kruse notes that Nixon hung onto high approvals until the hearings began. (He posted charts depicting the change.)

    As Dems really get busy highlighting Blotus crimes and the larger public starts to learn what only political junkies have been paying attention to, Blotus will be further hurt.

    Meanwhile "progressive policies" are very popular. I reject the idea that Dems can't win unless they pander to repubs/deplorables.

    Biden isn't running yet - if/when he does we'll see how he stacks up. Inslee got my attention - Hickenlooper quickly lost it by yapping about "getting things done by explaining them to McConnell". NOPE.

    First DNC debates are in June - that's when we'll start to get a sense of how the candidates rank against each other and how their positions go over with Dems.

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    It's going to take an extremely savvy political leader to emerge victorious from the Democratic primaries AND beat Trump in the general.

    I don't think that sort of candidate has announced their intentions yet.

    Biden may not be your guy if you think being a decent human being is not the way to go to beat Trump. But, remember, being a decent guy doesn't mean you don't understand what the problem with Republicans is or how to forcefully deal with it.

    As you say, we see how Biden stacks up. But, if he can't find that balance between progressivism and beating Trump, it may not be doable.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    As Dems really get busy highlighting Blotus crimes and the larger public starts to learn what only political junkies have been paying attention to, Blotus will be further hurt.

    It wouldn't be a waste of time for the Dems to put equal focus on the Trump administration's policies.

    I think the Democratic presidential nominee will also have focused on how Trump policies are hurting the country and most of its people.

  22. [22] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    The Dems have a choice between progressive policies or beating Trump and the answer is what this is all about?

    I would partially agree with Paula that the bottom line is that the GOP should be treated like the corrupt criminal-enabling institution it is, but in order to determine what this is all aboot the Big Money Democrats should also be recognized for the corrupt institution they are.

    No matter what policies the Dems offer they would only be implemented if the Big Money interests can make money off it and will do more to make Big Money for the Big Money interests than to actually do anything aboot the problem the Big Money politicians promised to solve. At best it will alleviate some symptoms without addressing the cause.

    After all, if the problem is actually solved they won't be able to run on more empty promises to solve the problem in the next election.

    The real bottom line is that we need to stop doing things backwards. We need to stop voting on promises and demand action up front to earn our votes.

    If they take Big Money to finance their campaigns they have shown they are working for the Big Money interests and have not taken the proper action to earn our votes.

    If they want our votes they must earn our votes by committing to working for ordinary citizens that can only afford to be small donors by financing their campaigns with our money instead by running a small donor campaign.

    As much as the bases want it to be aboot the bases, it's aboot the other 45% or more of citizens that are not in the bases.

    How long do we have to suffer through the current major parties playing good cop/ bad cop for their bases and rigging the game to limit other choices before we take action and demand better?

    Why won't the Dems take advantage of the other 45% or more by swearing off Big Money? Why are they satisfied with a small amount of them waffling back and forth between the Dems and Republicans while the rest of the 45% don't bother to participate because they are disgusted with the futility and corruption of both CMPs when the Dems could swear of Big Money and mobilize enough of the disgusted to blow the GOP out of the water?

    Then we might actually be able to get solutions that solve the cause of problems for the benefit of ordinary citizens.

    After all, what is preventing real action on climate change? Big Money in politics.

    And what needs to be to make real action on climate change possible?

    We need to get the Big Money out of politics.

    What is preventing real action on affordable health for all? Big Money in politics.

    And what needs to be done to make real action on affordable health care for all possible?

    We need to get the Big Money out of politics.

    What is preventing real action on income inequality? Big Money in politics.

    And what needs to be done to make real action possible on income inequality?

    We need to get the Big Money out of politics.

    And what is preventing us from real action on getting the Big Money out of politics?

    This time the culprit is not Big Money in politics.

    This time the culprit is everyone that keeps for voting for candidates that take Big Money to finance their campaigns.

    "We have met the enemy- and he is us."

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Maybe I should have waited a day to write this.

    Today's news brings three announcements from people who will NOT be running:

    Hillary Clinton
    Sen. Jeff Merkeley
    Michael Bloomberg

    The first one doesn't surprise me, she had essentially already said this. The second one would have been an interesting candidate. But the third one was somewhat of a surprise, as I thought he might be considering jumping in.

    Anyway, I'll get to answering comments later (still reading today's news), but just wanted to update the column a bit.


  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:


    Funny, I see it all differently:

    We KNOW who Repubs WANT to run against: Bernie. The idea of running against a bona-fide socialist is just too mouth-watering for Repubs.

    Not so funny, but I see it all exactly the same way.

    Then you've got women, blacks - sorry, but Trump would love to run against any of them, too. Wouldn't have to lift a finger.

    Unless Oprah herself were to run -- which she isn't -- but, however, nevertheless, I believe Oprah could throw some huge roadblocks into the plans of the GOP.

    So Dems have a choice to make: do they want progressive policies, or do they want to beat Trump? The answer is what this is all about.

    You have questions? I have answers. They want to beat Trump.

    Excellent observations. :)

  25. [25] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    I wouldn't rule out Michael Bloomberg as a potential running mate for whomever emerges atop the primaries.


  26. [26] 
    Kick wrote:


    I wouldn't rule out Michael Bloomberg as a potential running mate for whomever emerges atop the primaries.

    Well, you should. :)

  27. [27] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Kick [24]: Excellent observations. :)

    At least until the situation changes, eh?

  28. [28] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kick [1] -

    Nice! And I'm not just referring to the sentiment...

    I haven't seen ASCII art done so well in decades!


    I remember the early days of computing... brings back memories...

    So I have to say, well done to you!

    nypoet22 [2] -

    Wouldn't a small pie be a tart? And we've had all SORTS of tart problems in the past with candidates...

    Heh. Couldn't resist.

    James T Canuck [3] -

    I've been thinking similar things. Their overconfidence seems not to have been dented a bit by the midterms. In fact, I'd tell all of them it's so in the bag they don't even need to bother to vote in 2020.


    TheStig [4] -

    Couple of things. First, dig up and read some of H.L. Mencken's reporting on the (?) 1932 Dem convention. Chaos! Sounds like fun, though. The big split then was between the "wets" and the "drys".

    Second, I know 10 on a stage is a lot, but for the 3rd tier it's their only chance at national exposure and the chance to break through. Some actually manage to do so. So I wouldn't deny them the chance, personally.

    These are just the FIRST debates, mind you. There'll be time later (MANY debates are planned, this time around) for weeding out and getting down to actual debating. But at the start, it'll just be "can I make an impression in my two-minute answers?"

    That's kind of necessary, especially for those without mountains of funding.

    RE: flags on stage -

    Yeah, Trump gets a pass on this like he gets a pass on everything -- remember "flag-pin-tergate" with Obama?

    What makes me laugh is that on-stage flags now apparently need a "spreader bar" in the middle, so they present an unnatural but perfectly symmetrical triangular image. When did we get so shallow we couldn't let an innocent flag drape itself naturally from a flag pole? Check the images -- almost every display flag these days is unnaturally stretched to provide that "perfect" silhouette. Bizarre...

    JohnM [8] -

    You're right about Buttigieg, although I have seen Castro more than once.

    Speaking of CPAC and late-night, from last night's Colbert: "... attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, or, as it's known, 'D-BAG'."


    C. R. Stucki [9] -

    Oh, I beg to differ. It's the Republicans who are already talking about 2024, for obvious reasons. Win or lose, that's the first open shot for people like Nikki Haley.

    Mezzomamma [10] -

    Now there's an idea! I personally couldn't vote for someone who answered "pumpkin"... but maybe that's just me...

    TheStig [11] -

    (b) is better:

    The flag should never touch anything beneath it

    I believe Trump qualifies for that one...

    Oh, hey, and your example seems to say that the "spreader bars" are disrespectful! Imagine that!


    Paula [14] -

    That would depend on how big the victory was, and what the 2022 Senate election map looked like, I would think. "How many Republicans would be worried?," in other words.

    Paula [15] -

    fixed your link... you needed a space before it, that's why it didn't register as a link...

    Balthasar [18] -

    You may be right, but it's still early days. Plenty of time for movement within the tiers... we'll see who catches on with the voters...

    To beat Trump, you've got to beat a whole bunch of Democrats first, don't forget...

    LizM [20] -

    I know you're a big Biden fan, so I have to ask: what do you think his chances in the primaries are? His poll #s are impressive as hell right now. Do you think he can ride that all the way? I haven't decided how I feel on that question, which is why I'm asking you...

    Kick [24] -

    I have to agree. Oprah is a force of nature, especially on the Democratic side of things.

    Apropos of nothing, here's my one Oprah joke:

    If Oprah Winfrey married Deepak Chopra, she'd be Oprah Chopra!


    Sorry, couldn't resist...

    OK, that's it for now... don't forget to tip your waitress...


  29. [29] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [4] -

    I thought I had written about this before:

    Has a few excerpts from Mencken, but alas, no link.


  30. [30] 
    Kick wrote:


    At least until the situation changes, eh?

    Another excellent observation because "all things being equal" is ever so rare, and the one thing that never changes is that things constantly change.

    Did you ever think you'd observe a majority of "conservative" legislators allowing the systematic dismemberment and disemboweling of the "Grand Old Party" by a panic tweeting, pathologically lying con artist who routinely states "I take him at his word" when speaking about dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jung-un? But here we are. :)

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris asks,

    what do you think [Biden's] chances in the primaries are?


    Oh, was that a serious question?

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Let's just say that I'll be very pleasantly surprised - if not jumping off the walls, literally! - should Biden end up as the Democratic presidential nominee.

    Sadly, the media will do their collective part to make sure that doesn't happen.

  33. [33] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Dems are gonna be looking for 'charisma', 'youth, 'dynamism' - Yup, that's Biden, all the way!!!

  34. [34] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I've always classified Mencken as a (much) more bigoted version of Clemens, that distinction likely being attributable to early upbringings in very different social classes. Both are a pleasure to read, but Mencken in the guiltier of the two pleasures. Both knew what NOT to publish in their lifetimes...which is often some of their best and most incendiary stuff. ;-)

    The problem I have with the early massive debates is that they play into all the worst aspects of modern niche media driven by algorithms that maximize revenue streams by ginning up audience prejudices and the emotions they produce. It's like the worst aspects of 19th century media only much worse because it's basically too cheap to meter and the cycle time is hrs rather than days. Getting notice because of your achievements is great, getting notice because you knocked an easy pitch out of the ball part just elevates mediocrities like Trump into positions they shouldn't be anywhere near. What, other than being born rich and tall, has Trump ever done right in is life?...and cue crickets.

    The other problem I have with mass "debates" is that they just move soooo slowly. Part of this is the naturally slow cadence of human speech compared to processing of the written word, and part is just the information bottleneck of one moderator herding 10 cats. I always feel I have wasted my time watching one of these affairs. The later, winnowed down debates are better, but that's not saying a lot.

    I think a bracket system of debates would be much better, if seeded entirely by the parties, rather than the networks. The Two parties really need something to do besides fund raising to finance ad campaigns. As things have devolved, the Parties are two Nells tied to the railroad tracks, waiting for Dudley or Snidely to show and save them...or not. We already have one bright idea crank pointlessly filling up the comments, so I'll just leave it at that.

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