by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
CNN informs me there are “at least” 22 Democrats thinking of running for president in 2020. So who among them had the best 2017? Below is my list, in descending order, of the strongest members of the emerging 2020 Democratic field. … Spoiler alert: It’s not a pretty sight. …
… 3. Terry McAuliffe
Terry McAuliffe is a business-friendly social liberal whose four years as governor of Virginia (alongside a Republican legislature) were comparatively successful. He’s a proven fundraiser, likeable, and presided over a Democratic triumph in this year’s Virginia elections. He’s a hard man to dismiss. But I wonder if he has the stature of a president and if he is strong enough to assert himself on a crowded debate stage.
2. Joe Biden
He’s popular, jovial, a household name, reminds Democrats of the pre-Trump era, understands the necessity of assuaging the middle and working class, and everyone assumes he would have won the election had he been the Democratic nominee in 2016. But will he be the Democratic nominee in 2020? His previous campaigns have not gone well. On Inauguration Day 2021 he’ll be 78 years old. Politics moves incredibly fast. Biden must be thinking—or hoping—that it hasn’t yet passed him by.
1. Bernie Sanders
It’s telling that the Democrat who had the best 2017 isn’t even a member of the party. Bernie Sanders kept his movement together, persevered without any major gaffes or stumbles, and enjoys the support of young people and of multitudes of small donors. Age is also a factor with Bernie: He’ll be 79 on Election Day 2020. Will he lead the Sandernistas to the Promised Land or anoint a successor in his place? No matter the answer, he’s an undisputed king- or queen-maker who has the fate of the Democratic Party in one hand and a Che Guevara tee in the other.
Can Democrats actually be pleased that so much depends on a septuagenarian democratic socialist from an indigo-blue state who honeymooned in the Soviet Union? I doubt it. As I write these words I am struck by just how bare the Democratic Party cupboard is. All of the leading contenders have flaws. None of them has the talents of Obama or of Bill Clinton. Their greatest advantage is Donald Trump. But their greatest disadvantage is Donald Trump, whose shrewdness, boldness, and fighting spirit observe no limits.