Pragmatism over idealism — defeating Trump is the priority

I didn’t expect to see the day when the Democratic Party moved to the left of me. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I don’t think the 2020 Democratic platform should include such proposals from the left as single-payer healthcare, free public college, and zero-carbon emissions, although I hope they’ll come about eventually. They are not likely to win back the working-class voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania who cost Democrats the 2016 election. Or appeal to the suburban independents and former Republicans who gave Democrats the House majority in 2018.

Heck, I bet if I polled my liberal acquaintances who are still working, I wouldn’t find a lot of them who would be happy giving up their employer healthcare plans for a government-run program. Eighty-five percent of Americans with private health insurance like their plans, according to Gallup. I’m in a Medicare Advantage plan, the form of Medicare provided by private insurance companies, and I like it. The sensible route to expanding healthcare coverage seems to me to be shoring up Obamacare or offering Medicare as an option to younger people. Then we can transition gradually toward a single-payer system.

I’ve also decided that impeaching Trump isn’t the wise thing to do. It’s the principled thing, as Elizabeth Warren says, but our bottom line now has to be defeating Trump. When those working-class voters ask the Democrats in the House, what have you done for me lately?, impeached Trump isn’t going to be a persuasive answer. Besides, in the unlikely event the Senate were to go along with impeachment, we’d be left with Mike Pence, who would then have the incumbent’s advantage.

A friend of mine who agrees with me wondered when I saw her last week, “Who is there for us to support?” That was before Joe Biden got into the race, but, it would be nice to be inspired by a fresh face.

Axios has a helpful web page headlined “What you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidates, in under 500 words.” I went there to see who among those with name recognition might be considered a moderate, besides Biden, and started by investigating their stances on healthcare.

Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA), Cory Booker (NJ), Kamala Harris (CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) are all cosponsors of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All bill, which would eliminate private insurance and put everyone into a government-run plan. Julián Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, also supports it.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), former Representative Beto O’Rourke (TX), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg take more moderate positions on healthcare. Klobuchar backs Medicare Advantage. O’Rourke and Buttigieg would keep private insurance while offering Medicare as an alternative.

Skimming through positions on other issues, I thought that Klobuchar’s seem most likely to appeal to blue-collar voters. Her infrastructure plan would create jobs. She has ideas about reining in drug prices. She says that some goals of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal are “aspirational,” not feasible in the near future.

Admittedly, I’ve ignored many candidates on the grounds that they don’t have sufficient name recognition, but let’s not forget that it took just one speech, at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, for Barack Obama to go from relative unknown to household name. Things can change quickly in politics. The 2020 Democratic Convention is more than 14 months away.

According to a USA Today/Suffolk University Poll in March, a solid majority of Democrats said they are more interested in nominating a candidate who can defeat Trump than one they agree with on most issues. Electability didn’t determine my primary vote in 2016, but pragmatism will win over idealism the next time around.



“This lawsuit is not designed to succeed; it is only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible. Trump has already said publicly that he is fighting all of the subpoenas from Congress, and that he does not respect Congress’ role as a coequal branch of government. This unprecedented stonewalling will not work, and the American people deserve better.”
— Statement of Representatives Adam Schiff (CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and Maxine Waters (CA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, about Trump and family suing to block financial institutions from complying with congressional subpoenas

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