Having been engaged in the political debate for decades, it is both frustrating and infuriating to be subjected to the same specious pragmatic argument every four years. Individuals that I otherwise hold in high regard and whose ideological principals are harmonious with my own, present the case with a straight face and in all sincerity as if on cue from the Democratic Party talking points.
The argument holds that the Party cannot nominate a true progressive because he or she will lose the general election. The same message can be applied to all third party or independent candidates in perpetuity. We must all tow to the centerline where we will almost inevitably be smashed by the big rig of true believers on the right.
The argument is particularly galling this time around because last time around it was used to nominate Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders despite the stone cold fact that all the energy of the progressive left belonged to Bernie and all the doubt belonged to Hillary.
It was not just the fact that Hillary didn't show up in the critical rustbelt states in the weeks before Election Day; it was the fact that she didn't have anything to say to the working people of the lost industrial middle class. They would turn to the neophyte conman Donald J. Trump in a protest against the duplicity of corporate Democrats - and why not? No one could have done a better job at playing to Trump's hand than Hillary did. And yes, Bernie would have beaten Trump and left him bruised, battered and exposed to face the legal fallout of his campaign in the Southern District of New York.
Now we are faced with a broad and growing field of individuals, qualified or not, lining up for their chance to bring down The Great Con. Most of them have borrowed from Bernie's playbook: Medicare for all, a living wage, fair trade or something like it, access to higher education, humane immigration policies, a transition to a green energy base and a promise of non-intervention in civil wars abroad. Still, the mainstream media portray Bernie and friends as radical leftists while the political class continues to pretend that the mythical middle ground is the Shangri-La of presidential politics.
The mainstream of the Democratic Party base is Bernie Sanders. The mainstream of true progressives is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The Party operatives stuck with the Clintons where they now find themselves sinking in the quicksand of yesterday's politics. Those of us with no viable alternative moved on a long, long time ago. We never wanted a return to the Clinton years. What we want now is a government that recognizes the challenges of the new and the next generations. Moderation has become a code word for corporate domination. The massive multi-national corporations that finance traditional politicians on both sides of the aisle have proven beyond all doubt that they are ready, willing and eager to sell us all down the river for the almighty profit margin.
No one really likes a moderate. A moderate is someone who doesn't have the courage of his or her conviction. A moderate is a weasel in the smiling mask of an insurance salesman. A moderate doesn't know where she's been or where he's going. Despite all his flamboyance, Donald Trump is a moderate pretending to be extreme. He is extreme on race and immigration but there it stops. It is all braggadocio. It is all Clintonian triangulation. It is all calculated to win, baby, win.
Okay. Let us concede that Barrack Obama was a moderate politician that many Democrats and progressives remember with affection. He was portrayed as a leftist by both the opposition and an accommodating media but he never lived up to the label. Had he been the man he was advertised to be, he would have delivered a hell of a lot more and better than Obamacare. He would have delivered more and better than a Lilly Ledbetter Act limited to federal employees. He would have delivered as promised the right to organize in the workplace. He would have decisively ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and limited our engagement in Syria to humanitarian assistance. He would have created an international economic alliance with the power to replace drones and missiles with targeted economic sanctions.
Obama is the past and the Clintons are ancient history. The times demand that we elect a bold new leader to take the reins of a progressive government. The times demand that America lead the world in a bold new and green direction. The times demand that we cast off once and for all the debilitating barbarity and narcissism of Donald J. Trump.
We need a president that is not afraid to take a stand.
It has become clear that (a) every politician of age believes he or she is qualified to take up residency on Pennsylvania Avenue and (b) it is never too early to begin a trek on the long and winding road to the White House.
Likewise, it is never too early to begin our analysis of the candidates and to initiate the inevitable process of elimination.
TIER ONE: THE PRETENDERS.
Don't get me wrong: I love the pretenders. The pretenders have nothing to lose and something to gain. They represent causes. They lay it on the line. They tend to be uncompromised. They have no need to roll out trial balloons or test the waters. What you see is what you get.
Every presidential election attracts any number of pretenders. Past elections have given us the pizza man, the flat tax joker, the sleepy-eyed brain surgeon and Carly "the CEO" Fiorina. None had a reasonable chance to become their party's nominee but they did gain notoriety, book deals or invitations to social events. They gained one of the most valued commodities in business or politics: name recognition.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG