Living Large In Carson City: And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? (Yeats) Edition

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“If you’re in the RNC right now and you don’t support the president, you ought to go out the door,” Shawn Steel told NPR. “The body is a political organization designed to support the president in power.” NPR

The above statement sums up the what many members of the Republican National Committee and some die hard Republicans believe about the status of Donald Trump going into the 2020 campaign season. Think about that a minute. Despite his missteps, boondoggles, lies, inept ability to govern, lack of a coherent foreign policy, and an investigation into whether or not he conspired with Russia to win the 2016 election, there are still people who still believe he is the best choice to lead the American government. There are even those who want a rule change to the 2020 platform that will not allow primary challenges, although this prospect of that happening is questionable. Still, it is mind boggling.

The Democratic side of things is shaping up to be as bizarre as the bloated Republican field in the last election. Ballotpedia lists these candidates as declared:

The following elected officials and notable public figures have filed to run for president with the Federal Election Commission or announced exploratory committees.

  • Pete Buttigieg (D), the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced that he was running for president on January 23, 2019.[2]
  • Julian Castro (D), a former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy on January 12, 2019.[6]
  • John Delaney (D), a former U.S. representative from Maryland, filed to run for president on August 10, 2017.
  • Tulsi Gabbard (D), a U.S. representative from Hawaii, announced that she had decided to run for president on January 11, 2019.[7]
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (D), a U.S. senator from New York, announced that she was running for president on January 15, 2019.[8]
  • Kamala Harris (D), a U.S. senator from California, announced that she was running for president on January 21, 2019.[4]
  • Elizabeth Warren (D), U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced she had formed an exploratory committee on December 31, 2018.[9]
  • Andrew Yang (D), an entrepreneur from New York, filed to run for president on November 6, 2017.

 

This isn’t even a short list, but a minuscule one, of possible candidates who have yet to throw their hat into the ring. There is a host of active or retired politicians yet to decide whether to run or not including Beto O’Rouke, Stacy Abrams, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and of course, Hillary Clinton who makes up only a fraction of possible contenders. Then there are the business and public figures like Michael Bloomberg, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates – again a very abbreviated list of possibles. Go to Ballotpedia to see the complete lists. Warning: Bring a lunch. There are that many.

Yesterday, America woke up to the news the King of Coffee former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, is running as a independent for the throne at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue. Proclaiming himself to be a “lifelong Democrat”, Schultz said he will run as a centrist Independent. Decrying “revenge politics” practiced by both sides of the aisle, Schultz fears that the Democratic Party will elect a radically liberal candidate. He stated,

“It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left,” Mr Schultz told CNBC last June. The Independent

Hmmm . . . wasn’t that the reason the Democrats did so well in November 2018? Far from seeing this trend as a negative development, many Americans appear to have been heartened by the shift. Tell me Beto didn’t have a following that rivaled both Obama and Bernie Sanders’ hyper loyalists. Across the board, especially women candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, played on the need for a leftward shift to beat good ole’ boys both in the primaries and in the general election. The problem with the establishment Democrats is they are incapable of defining themselves as anything but RHINO light. The newcomers obviously are on to something.

So, what does a centrist independent believe about core issues and obstacles facing the American public. Take one of the most polarizing issues that “radical” liberals are pushing – Medicare for all. Schultz is worth $3.4 billion and like many billionaires he opposes anything that would cut into his standing in the billionaire club. In an article in the Intelligencer, Schultz gave an inkling as to his beliefs stating,

In recent interviews, Schultz has argued that progressive Democrats have grown so rigidly ideological, they can no longer recognize basic political and policy realities.

He has also contended that the wealthiest nation in human history can’t afford to provide public health insurance to all of its citizens; that the national debt is a bigger threat to the United States than climate change; and that Democrats would be wise to demonstrate “leadership” to the electorate — by calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Intelligencer

Sounds like something Mitch McConnell would say, not a presidential candidate who claims to be a lifelong Democrat. Condemnation of his possible third party run as an independent has gotten nearly universal condemnation from just about everyone other than Trump and his minions. The obvious fear is that as a third-party candidate would siphon off vitally needed votes from the Democrat nominee, but not enough to actually carry the election for Schultz, thereby, handing a second term to Trump.

Americans have seen this before. Ross Perot in 1996 ran as an third party candidate for the Reform Party against Bob Dole and Bill Clinton (2nd term). Though he only pulled in 8 % of the vote, he was probably the reason that Clinton won and Dole lost out with on  41 % of the popular vote. Clinton got 49 %. More recently, there was the George W. Bush, Al Gore and Ralph Nader debacle with Nader running as the Green Party candidate.

Disclaimer: In 2000, I was one of three founding members of the Napa Valley Green Party along with my friends Lowell Downey and Glynn Baker. I was fed up with the Democratic machine and wanted to strike out and take a stand. We all know how that worked out. I left the Greens shortly after Bush stole the election from Gore, partly out of shame for not voting for Gore and partly out of sheer frustration stemming from the ongoing sniping between the Northern California Greens and the Los Angeles faction. Seems the Greens were just as susceptible to inter party fighting as the other two major parties. The point is I understand the damage a third party candidate, especially one who has little support other than a disgruntled following that can cause serious damage to a qualified candidate in a close race.

Trump has to be gone by 2020. If not by the hand of Mueller then by the hand of the electorate. It’s inconceivable that Trump could muster enough votes to win, but there again, I was surprised as everyone when he pulled out the 2016 election. I am sure Schultz in his benevolent billionaire mind thinks he is on the right track and that his running would be something that would clarify, if not help, the struggling Democratic Party’s identity crisis. It won’t.

With a year and ten months before the election, all the cards will be on the table. I for one embrace the drift to the left by the new Democrats. They are the ones who will make or break our democracy in the coming years. Trump is swiftly heading to a footnote in history, but his defeat in 2020 can’t be assumed as a given. Third party dilettantes jeopardize taking back the White House, even if it is only a tiny risk. Does Schultz threaten the Democratic nominee? Not yet, let’s hope it stays that way.

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