That Other Election

I’ve been neglecting the Canadian federal election in this space, but there will be a few posts coming as the candidates hit the final stretch, with now less than three weeks to go. Today though, an early look at the contest that affects the world far more than the Canadian one, the 2020 US presidential election.

I wrote this post in August while on vacation in Maine, but didn’t get it posted then. Life (and death) has a way of changing your plans.

In 2003 I saw John Kerry on C-Span, the American political network and said “he will be the next Democratic nominee for president. I was right.


“Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore 3 (cropped)” by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Four years ago it was Donald Trump getting the media focus. I said then that unless Republicans (and Democrats) started taking his candidacy seriously, he would be the nominee and president. I was right.

Which explains why on a sunny Saturday I was checking out C-Span whenever I took a break from the beach. It was the Iowa State Fair and it seemed all of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls were out looking for votes. It wasn’t compelling enough to keep me from the beach, but I watched enough to have some thoughts. I offer this advice free to those Democratic candidates, secure in the knowledge that they won’t take it. Which means they aren’t going to win.

First, define who you are. That is tough to do in a field of 20 candidates from the same party. Theoretically you all support the same policies. So what makes you stand apart. Tell me your story, explain why you should be president.

Stop telling me about Joe Blow from Wherever USA that you just met. Yes, you meet many people with compelling stories, but it is your vision that people need to hear. Plus, there is a sneaking suspicion that the encounter with Mr. and Ms Blow is something contrived, a convenient prop to support a policy plank. I’ve heard such storytelling so often from so many politicians that it no longer grips my emotions.

Secondly, forget about Donald Trump. You won’t be running against him unless and until you win your party’s nomination. Why waste your energy at this point? Why give him ammunition to use against you? Why give free publicity to someone not on the stage with you?

Thirdly, make sure you have at least one policy that sets you apart from the pack. Hopefully it will be a winner. Find something that you are passionate about that resonates with voters. People will support you if you inspire them.

Fourthly, think before opening your mouth. That should be a no-brainer, but apparently it isn’t. Who are you trying to reach? How will you reach them?

I watched one candidate who made sure everyone knew her position on abortion. That’s okay, but the Democratic Party is “pro-choice.” Abortion isn’t an issue. No candidate would propose restrictions to the existing access. So why is this something to bring to an internal party contest?

If she was trying to appeal to independents or left-leaning Republicans, she failed. Are there more people who support her position than all the others? She had better hope so if she wants to be president. I somehow doubt it. Bill Clinton taught Democrats how to be pro-choice without demonizing those who are pro-life, but this candidate, it seemed, was not able it appeared to consider other viewpoints. I didn’t see much winning potential in that.

I don’t know if Democrats in general understand what the 2020 election will be about. None of the candidates I saw appeared to me to be electable, certainly not against Donald Trump. If they try and fight the 2016 campaign all over again, they are destined to lose.

But none of them are paying attention – they are too caught up in their own political world.


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