While my first and foremost wish is that Donald Trump go away, the runners-up are Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, who need to get sucked up in his wake. Because if there ever was a time for the Democratic Party to throw out the old and turn to the new, 2020 is it. Did I mention that fresh face almost certainly should be a woman and, in any event, have populist chops?
It pains me to write this post. The 2020 ratfuck will be my unlucky 13th presidential campaign as a reporter, editor and blogger, so I have a semblance of experience even if I did get the result of the 2016 smackdown horribly wrong. Oh, and the entire business of who should face off against the Republican nominee, who almost certainly will not be Trump because his cluelessness and corruption finally is catching up to him, is starting way too early.
Anyhow . . .
I like Sanders, but he's so yesterday despite having decent liberal-socialist policy chops. I love Biden, but the time has long passed when we want to vote for a guy because he would be great to have a beer with. Besides which, neither could win the nomination when they had a decent shot at it, in Biden's case several shots, so why would they secure the nomination, let alone be competitive, in 2020?
The American populist tradition dates back to Robert LaFollette and William Jennings Bryant, and to an extent Teddy Roosevelt, as well. But the case for a populist Democratic nominee and not an Old School retread in 2020 should be linked to a seminal but underappreciated event -- the takeover of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan by Occupy Wall Street protesters in September 2011.
The two-part message of these protesters, which predictably became muddled by the news media, was a clarion-call clear: The brigands who nearly collapsed the U.S. and global economies in 2008 had never been called to account and were going to do it all over again, which they of course are well on their way to doing in their methodical looting of Main Street with the glowering approval of the man with the small hands and peculiar hair.
The fragile seed that sprouted from Occupy Wall Street has grown into a new populist wave.
Obamacare, flawed as it is, was an early result of that wave. So were the Dodd-Frank financial reform measures and Sanders' 2016 challenge to Hillary Clinton, a centrist whom Sanders effectively pushed to the left.
The signal effort of the Republican Party since Occupy has been to try to stop that wave by undermining Obamacare, neutering D0dd-Frank, handing the super rich and corporations massive tax cuts and doing whatever else it could with its congressional majorities and the greedy dunce in the Offal Office to widen the already huge gap between the haves and have nots. This has included nominating and approving judges who will do the fat cats' bidding when the populists get uppity and blaming the Bush Recession on poor people.
Which brings us to the Blue Wave victories of Democrats in November, many of them women and most of them populists, and now the quadrennial ritual of turning the lights back on at the sausage factory known as the presidential nominating process.
One thing that the potential nominees to whom I am attracted -- Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand -- have in common is their support for a progressive income tax and its iterations, including a "wealth tax" of 2 percent on assets exceeding 50 million being pushed by Warren. Granted that $50 million isn't what it used to be, but I probably would be able to scrape by on it.
(Polls show that Americans, by large margins, approve of soaking the rich. And speaking of polls, how to explain Biden's lead in the presidential horse race polls? Because name recognition is not merely the name of the game right now, it is the game, which is why Sanders also is polling well.)
It's easy to get caught up in labels, but you can't get more egalitarian -- which is to say populist -- than a progressive income tax if you agree with my definition that a populist is a politician who, for the moral and societal good, strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by the elites.
What better example of those elites than the chorus of Trump administration Marie Antoinettes during the recent 35-day government shutdown. My fave: Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, saying that the 800,000 workers furloughed during the shutdown were "better off" since they could go on vacation without having to use their vacation days.
This appalling tone deafness, coupled with the GOP's relentless efforts to undermine anything that is good for Main Street because it might be bad for Wall Street, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Democratic Party.
Why do I prefer a woman nominee? Hillary Clinton.
While there are many explanations for her loss to an unqualified crook, including her campaign's mistakes, Russian hacking and James Comey's piss-poor investigation of her email server, sexism clearly played a role and it's time that we exorcise that demon.
Misogynistic voters aren't going to retreat to their man caves in 2020, but at the rate Trump and Republicans are destroying the country, enough Americans may be willing to let a woman try to save it.