Democrats should feel good about the 2020 primary. There’s an enormous slate of candidates who hold diverse views on key policy positions. The nominee could oust the most openly corrupt presidential administration in modern American history. It’s a crucial moment for the party and country as a whole.
But cynicism still rules American politics. Candidates are defined more by their affability than actual politics. Everything is bad and the Democratic primary will be too. Sure, your favorite candidate has a chance, and you should be excited. But not too excited. Here’s why.
Main Drawback: #MeToo Reckoning
Biden is the frontrunner even though he hasn’t officially declared his candidacy. When he declares, he’ll immediately face tough questions about his treatment of women. When Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of rape in 1994, Biden set “an accusing, skeptical tone” during her Senate hearing. He’s also known for being a little too handsy. Combine that with his declaration that millennials have it easy and it’s not looking great.
Main Drawback: Campaign Harassment Allegations
Sanders hasn’t declared yet either, but questions of sexual harassment allegations within his 2016 presidential campaign will undoubtedly arise again. He’s said most of the right things publicly since, but the backlash—plus continued absurd claims of him being a Russian psy-op—could hurt his 2020 run. He’d also be 80 years old on Inauguration Day 2021.
Main Drawback: Playing Into Conservative Hands
Likability is a bullshit metric, but it looms large in American politics. Warren’s ongoing native identity crisis—and her recent attempts to quash it for good—is her biggest detraction at the moment. She recently apologized to the Cherokee nation for her ill-advised DNA test, which was a good move. But her eagerness to lean into her family legend when faced with racist name-calling from Trump et. al. wasn’t a great sign. It remains to be seen how much the crusade has stained her progressive credibility.
Likes Being a Prosecutor a Little Too Much
It’s important to be wary of prosecutors-turned-politicians no matter what. It’s important to be especially wary when they eagerly prosecute truancy.
Kamala Harris at an event hosted by the Commonwealth Club in 2010, explaining her decision as San Francisco DA to get tough on truancy.
Critics of truancy crackdowns say such efforts unfairly target poor parents and children without actually helping students. pic.twitter.com/GKkDpayxuv
— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman) January 28, 2019
Harris has always tried to stay in the “middle” as a prosecutor, and has plenty to be proud of in the way or criminal justice critique and reform. But her shortcoming in prosecuting white collar crime—particularly that of now-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—could also present issues.
Main Drawback: Wall Street Ties
Back in 2012, Booker urged Barack Obama and Democrats to “stop attacking private equity.” It was a long time ago, sure, but the absurdity of those comments are still almost too hard to take. Booker remains bought and paid for by Wall Street. But in fairness, this a problem for several Democratic candidates, even ones that don’t have a made-up friend named T-Bone.
Main Drawback: Defending the Filibuster
On Pod Save America, Gillibrand defended the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster many Democrats want to abolish. She justified it under the guise of “bringing people together,” which is a nice idea when you completely ignore Republicans use of the filibuster to pack courts, destroy healthcare and give tax breaks to billionaires who don’t need them.
Main Drawback: Medicare at 55
Brown had the salt to openly call Donald Trump racist, which is more than can be said of most Dems. He’s also said Medicare for All isn’t “practical,” which is actually a lot like most Dems. Brown’s milquetoast “Medicare at 55” appeals to no one and actively pissed off the left, which bodes well for his candidacy.
Main Drawback: Oil Money
Everyone’s favorite almost-senator received more than $400,000 in donations from individuals in the oil and gas industry. O’Rourke also didn’t return the money, violating his No Fossil Fuel Money pledge. This is one of many issues with Beto, who’s popularity appears to be tethered to the fact that he’s tall and relatively attractive. Even after his viral senate campaign, he lost to Ted Cruz, one of the most unpopular politicians in America. How excited can anyone possibly be about this guy?