The Democratic Presidential Primary “Wild Card”

There ya all go, trying to think along with me again. What a waste of time. By now, you should all know that my mind is wired like a telephone switchboard put together by a 4 year old. You call your Aunt Lucy in Chicago, and end up talking to a hand laundry in Honolulu.

Youse guyz are all sitting around wondering what kind of unheard of political name I’m going to pull out of my ass and present to you as the mystery :wild card” candidate of the upcoming subway rush hour crowd that will be the Democratic primary field for 2020. But that’s not what I’m talking about at all.

We can all agree that the Democratic primary is going to be a WWE style battle royale. There’s nothing wrong with this. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to ideas and solutions to the problems that confront this country, not even including the Cheeto Prophet. My only hope is that when all is said and done, the Presidential primary on the Democratic side is just like the congressional Democratic primaries of 2018. When it’s done, it’s done, and then there’s the kumbaya moment between the combatants that allows everybody to proceed on the same page to victory in November.

MA Senator Elizabeth Warren was on Rachel Maddow last night, having her first national interview since announcing her exploratory committee to check out a 2020 Presidential run, and she said something that set off alarm bells in my head. It wasn’t anything to do with foreign relations, the economy, or any of the other issues that the candidates will be eye gouging and kidney punching over in the coming months. But what she said could cause a civil war within the party itself if it isn’t resolved properly.

Warren told Rachel that if she decided to run, she was vowing that she would take no campaign contributions from Super PAC’s or self funding billionaires.I have no problem with this, it was a strategy that worked out quite well for Democrats in the 29018 midterms, a differentiating line between them and their special interest soaked GOP opponents. But then she kind of threw down the gauntlet, and “hoped” that all future candidates would lock step with her and make the same pledge.This is an internal issue that the Democratic party is going to have to come up with a solution for, soonest. I wrote time and time again in 2018 about how effective of a weapon this position was for Democratic challengers, being able to flaunt their independence, and loyalty to their constituents, since they had sworn fealty to no one else in return for financial backing. It was an effective weapon when facing a Republican opponent. But Warren is raising the possibility of this becoming a real, and central bone of contention between candidates of the same party. And that’s not good.

From my point of view, the real problem here isn’t ideological, it’s generational. The vast majority of insurgent candidates running in the House races in 2018 were younger, and had never run for any kind of public office at all. As such, they had no access to the existing donor class, or inherent knowledge of how to solicit them. It was a natural course of action for them to make the simple decision to run their campaign locally, and let their proposed constituents determine whether or not their candidacy was worth supporting.

Lawrence O’Donnell put his finger on it last night in his hand off with Rachel Maddow, when he remarked that when a candidate considers running for President, some of his earliest calls are to his higher ticket donors, as well as bundlers, to assess how much outside support he or she could expect. They do this because they are older, experienced politicians, and this is the way they have always done it, it’s how you run for political office. The higher the office, the more outside backing you need. And now, at the last minute, these potential candidates are facing the prospect of being tarred with the “bought politician” brush in the voters eye, even if none of their fellow candidates utter a word about it.

I didn’t work on the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign, so I have no inside knowledge, but I’d bet Sanders put months of planning and calculating into whether or not he could support his candidacy solely on small personal donations, and decided that it would be an effective “hook” for voters sick of corporate owned politicians. Warren herself is not a n inherently political creature, having first been elected in 2012, with state wide name recognition, and I’m sure that she also put considerable thought into this before she announced it, likely to steal Bernie’s thunder if he announces later, he won’t be the only small donor funded candidate this time. Likewise, I’m sure that Beto thought long and hard about the features of small donor campaigning before committing to it.

But for pretty much everybody else out there seriously considering running, from Joe Biden to Sherrod Brown, from Amy Klobuchar to Jirsten Gillibrand, this is a bolt out of the blue. And it’s also problematic. Literally months of planning have been spent on the approach of a traditional campaign, using traditional funding, with a bankroll to be quickly established if they declare, and now they’re being confronted with having to set up an entirely new strategy on the fly.

Personally, I’m with Elizabeth Warren. And Bernie Sanders, and Beto O’Roarke, and all of the wonderful freshman representatives in the US House taking their oaths tomorrow.  If the Democratic party is going to campaign on getting all of the filthy big money out of politics, and returning electoral power to the people, then we should damn well be ready to lead by example. But we should also be doing it on a level playing field, with every candidate knowing the basic ground rules and expectations. This Democratic primary desperately needs to be focused on problems, ideas, and solutions. But if the party doesn’t come up with some kind of a solution to this funding issue, it could balloon into the mother of all distractions, which could overshadow everything else. Please, somebody tell me I’m making too much out of this.

* A quick holiday reminder *
Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange make perfect e-stocking stuffer gifts for people you really aren't all that interested in impressing. And what better time to get reacquainted with the roller coaster that was the 2016 election cycle than before the release of the final volume of the trilogy, President Evil III, All the Presidents Fen.

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