Without getting into too many specifics, here’s my basic assumption that underlies all of my current takes on the primary: virtually any Democrat who runs a somewhat-competent campaign can defeat Trump.
Therefore, I’m going to pick the candidates with the best policies, records, and chances of electability (in that order).
What I just said will undoubtedly make a bunch of Democrats nervous. Still (rightfully) traumatized from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat, it’s beyond cliché to warn Democrats not to be too arrogant next time around. While aversion to arrogance is generally good advice, it overlooks many realities of the 2016 election:
- Hillary Clinton ran a uniquely bad campaign.
- The Clintons have been under public scrutiny since the 1980s.
- Not only was Hillary in the spotlight for longer than I’ve been alive, but she’s been a particularly hated villain on the right for nearly as long.
- Trump got really, really lucky.
- The supposed email scandal hurt Hillary considerably, even if it was mostly smoke.
- The Comey letter hurt her in a massive way, as well.
That doesn’t mean that Democrats shouldn’t use electability as a metric by which to judge candidates. They should! But, let’s be honest – at this stage in the race, “I think [insert favorite candidate here] stands the best chance to beat Trump!” is totally subjective and totally unsubstantiated by any hard evidence.
And, “I think [insert least favorite candidate here] couldn’t beat Trump!” is really code for, “I don’t like that candidate because reasons, so I’ll word my subjective opinion as if it is backed up by objective facts.”
Not to mention that there’s no shame in changing your mind. The best candidate in January 2019 might not be the best candidate in January 2020! It’s okay to support a candidate whose policy you like, but change your mind if subsequent evidence reveals that they’re unelectable. In fact, that’s a smart strategy!
This post was originally titled, “Who’s Fred supporting in 2020? Part 2“, but the series was discontinued, and the three posts that comprised it were retooled as stand-alone postings.