I see some people on the Twitter saying that the Democrats should run a centrist candidate to get the votes of anti-Trump Republicans and right-leaning independents in 2020. (I see some other people arguing that being a centrist Democrat didn’t help Hillary in 2016, but let’s face it: nothing would have helped Hillary, short of not being Hillary.) I think this idea has merit, but obviously it’s just science fiction at this point. Where are the centrist Democrats hoping to run for president in 2020? I’m sure I don’t know.

Of course, “centrist,” like “moderate,” means something different to everyone. Merrick Garland was supposedly a “moderate” pick for the Supreme Court (not that it helped him!), but all “moderate” meant in his case was that he was similarly hostile to the rights of criminal defendants as a “conservative” is expected to be. Which is why, although I thought he deserved a hearing, I was relieved that he wasn’t made a Supreme Court justice because we don’t need any more anti-Fourth Amendment justices on the Supreme Court. I was more than happy to let Hillary Clinton pick the next SCOTUS justice, if there was a chance she’d nominate an actual liberal rather than a Garland-esque “law and order liberal,” which is the worst of both worlds: someone who always errs on the side of giving the government more power.

But don’t get me started on that topic.

Well, I don’t know, I may well come back to it later. Just don’t let me go off on a tangent about Garland vs. Gorsuch.

My impression is that when Republicans and other righties use the term “moderate,” they’re thinking of a Democrat who’s hawkish on foreign policy and/or conservative(-ish) on social issues. By contrast, there are no moderate Republicans, just traitors, aka RINOs. When Democrats say “moderate,” they’re thinking of aforementioned Democrats but also Republicans who are pro-choice. Literally, that one issue makes all the difference. A pro-choice Republican could never get the GOP presidential nomination, just as a pro-life Democrat could never get his/her party’s nomination. It will never happen, at least not in my lifetime. (Maybe when artificial womb technology has advanced enough that abortion can been abandoned in favor of embryo transplants? But maybe not even then.) Gay marriage is no longer an issue. Despite all the lefty fears that a so-called “conservative” majority on the SCOTUS will lead to thousands of gay couples having their marriages nullified and possibly being put into camps (that last part isn’t super clear), the marriage equality ship has sailed. Only the nuttiest right-wing nutters living on a unicorn ranch in Fantasyland believe that horse can be put back into the barn. Most social conservatives have shifted their focus to limiting the number of bakeries where gay couples can buy wedding cakes and keeping transgender ladies out of ladies rooms. I mean, obviously that’s chilling in its own way–imagine the humiliation of being forced to take your business to a bakery that wants it–but it’s not the nullification of legal marriages, and provided people on both sides can keep their crap together, it doesn’t have to lead to anything more sinister.

Back when Jon Huntsman was running for president, I knew lots of Democrats (Utahns and former Utahns) who sang his praises. I’m pretty sure that if Jon Huntsman had been pro-choice, he could have switched parties, run for president, and won both the Democratic primary (much to progressives’ dismay) and the general election (much to progressives’ relief, because God only knows who the GOP would have run against him). He’s Trump-tainted now, so I think that ship has also sailed, but someone in that mold could definitely win an election now. This wouldn’t make progressives happy, of course, but progressives won’t be happy until the United States miraculously becomes Sweden, so just keep that in perspective. (I’m sympathetic to progressives’ lament that there are no true left-wingers in the Democratic party, or at least none who are viable national candidates. There are no viable candidates who align with my values either, but c’est la vie.)

From a strictly political standpoint, the ideal Democratic candidate–the one most likely to win a general election–is one who is pro-choice, promises to fund all existing entitlement programs and expand Obamacare without raising taxes on working families, and say warm and fuzzy things about the troops and protecting American interests at home and abroad. (The less specific he is, the better.) And yes, he must be a “he.” America isn’t ready to elect a female Democrat (or non-binary person) because all female Democrats are perceived to be secretly commies. He should also be vaguely pro-Second Amendment, but not a fanatic or anything. He could talk about passing “common sense” gun control laws. (Nothing specific! Just common sense, mind you. Maybe something along the lines of a “national discussion.”) Immigration will be a tricky issue, but he should err on the side of being pro-immigrant, because that’s where the up-for-grabs votes are. As long as Trump is in office, anti-immigrant voters will side with him and his. It is safe to write them off. But maybe not safe to write off anti-Trump righties with security concerns, so no open borders stuff. Just slippery platitudes.

This is not the president the United States needs, of course, but the United States doesn’t want the president it needs. That much is clear.

I don’t know who the Democrats are thinking of running in 2020, but so far I’m not seeing anyone positioning themselves to lead the party. To be quite frank, I don’t have confidence in Democrats’ ability to focus on any issue long enough to win a presidential election. I’m not confident that they can even take back Congress this year. They’re like cats with a string, and Trump is holding the string. They never learn that he’s always going to move the string, they’re never going to catch it, and they should go play with something else. We can’t even keep people outraged about Homeland Security kidnapping refugee kids for more than a few days. And no, it’s not Trump’s fault for being such a bad person that a new scandal erupts every 2-3 days. Trump is a bad person, but he’s not going to stop being a bad person long enough for any one scandal to stick. It’s our job to make it stick, but we bore easily and need new outrages to motivate us to get up and tweet in the morning, so that’s on us. Not that I personally take responsibility. The “we” was figurative, you know? This is actually someone else’s problem.

 

 

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