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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What Next for Democrats?

Tulsi Gabbard
Just a few weeks ago people were talking about the end of the Republican Party. Now the Democratic Party looks on the ropes, especially in Presidential politics. We thought we had a stranglehold on the electoral college, but Trump and his scared white people broke though in the upper Midwest and now we're all screwed.

Hillary Clinton was so obvious a nominee this year that she scared off everyone except Bernie Sanders, so now the presidential prospects look barren. What should the Democratic Party do in the next four years? Go left? Probably. Clinton turned off a lot of Sanders voters and had a long history of scandals, both real and imaginary. She is now 69 and is unlikely to run again, and I doubt she could get another nomination. So where to?

Sanders is 75 and would be 79 in 2020. He is vague about plans for then, but it takes chutzpah for a 75-year-old man to make plans four years down the road. In my view, it's time to look not only left but young, perhaps in the futile attempt to capture lightning in a bottle twice, i.e., another Barack Obama.

Before that, in 2018, it is unlikely that the Democrats will retake the Senate. There is only one state they have a realistic chance at flipping--Nevada (Las Vegas and its Hispanics and unions flipped two congressional seats and kept a competitive senate seat--suddenly I live in a liberal area) with Dean Heller. Meanwhile, the Democrats will have a hell of a time keeping seats in red states like Missouri, North Dakota, and Montana.

So we have to hope we can make it to 2020 with at least some liberal Supreme Court members and look to the future. Wikipedia has a helpful and exhaustive list of possible candidates. I'll mention some of those and then make some choices of my own. I list their ages in 2020 in parentheses.

The Old Guard: Joe Biden (78) is done. Elizabeth Warren (71) is the most popular progressive right now, outside of possibly Sanders and would have beaten the pants off Trump. But I like her in the Senate and, again, too old.

The Usual Suspects: Sherrod Brown (68), a liberal senator from Ohio makes sense, and he may run, but I want to go younger. Andrew Cuomo (62), not too old, but has a sleaze factor that turns me off. He got too cozy with Albany Republicans. Tim Kaine (62), nobody likes a loser. No losing VP candidate has been nominated since Bob Dole in '96 (a full twenty years after he lost for veep) and one hasn't won the presidency since FDR. Kaine may well run, but I don't think he excites anyone, which is why he was a perfect VP nominee. Martin O'Malley (57), ran briefly in 2016, hard to imagine anyone getting in a tizzy about him.

More Sensible Candidates: Cory Booker (51), dynamic senator from New Jersey and seems to be clean. Oddly, that he is not married may be his biggest problem, though maybe not. Kirsten Gillibrand (53), senator from New York. Went more left when she left her more conservative congressional district and is an attractive candidate--looks like a lot of the women that got lost to Trump. Amy Klobuchar (60), meat and potatoes senator from Minnesota. More likely a VP prospect, and she's not a dynamic speaker, though I find her to be well-spoken and a solid liberal.

The Younger Set: Julian Castro (46), the former Secretary of HUD and mayor of San Antonio. Many thought he might be Hillary's veep, but I'm sure his lack of experience did him in. His problem will be what he does the next four years. He could take on Ted Cruz in 2018, but would likely lose and disappear into obscurity. Tulsi Gabbard: (39), a real diamond in the rough, and a leading spokesman of the far-left. A congresswoman from Hawaii, in the Army National Guard, and a Hindu. I'd like to know more about her. Her Facebook posts are mostly about concern for the TPP and drones in Syria. The Nation crowd love her, not sure about middle America. Keith Ellison (57), the only Islamic member of Congress, so that's one strike against him for some, but he is running for DNC chair and it would be great if he got it. If he runs for president I'm afraid it would be symbolic. Tim Ryan (47), rising star in the House, his district is a working class part of Ohio. He is making noise to take leadership from Nancy Pelosi, which may alienate some but may be a stepping stone.

The Freshman Class: At this time in 2004, Barack Obama was freshly elected senator. Four years later he was President. So, who among the new crop of Democrats are attractive candidates? Kamala Harris (56), new senator from California. African American and Asian, and mentioned as a Supreme Court candidate. Would probably make a lot of waves if she chose to run (a conditional that applies to all of these names). Maggie Hassan (62), new senator from New Hampshire and former governor. Though she's older she's a new face and a woman and managed to win a seat in a bad year for Democrats. Chris Van Hollen (61), new senator from Maryland, longtime Congressman. Tammy Duckworth, (52). Her story is hard to resist. Lost both legs in combat, beat back a yokel for her House seat, then easily dispatched an incumbent senator (albeit in a deep-blue state). She's a mixture of Thai and white. The only problem--she was born in Thailand, but to an American father. It seems to me that if Ted Cruz could run for president, born in Canada to an American mother, then she could, too.

Although the Trump years will certainly be difficult for progressives, I look forward to new faces emerging, and encourage others to look past the usual names. Democratic nominees for president usually do come out of nowhere--we don't play the "next in line" game that Republicans often play. We did that this year and got burned.

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