Tag Archives: 2020 election

Run, Gov. Weld, run!

Wouldn’t it be just a kick in the backside if William Weld re-creates a Eugene McCarthy moment in the 2020 race for the presidency of the United States?

Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, has formed an exploratory committee to determine whether to mount a primary challenge against Donald Trump. Weld said many other Republicans “exhibit all the symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, identifying with their captor.”

Weld ran for vice president in 2016 on the Libertarian ticket headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. The ticket didn’t do too well, gathering just 4.5 million votes, or about 3 percent of the total.

He wants back into the fight, this time as a Republican.

The McCarthy moment? In 1968, the Vietnam War was raging and Sen. McCarthy, a Minnesota Democrat, mounted a Democratic Party primary challenge against President Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy — a vehement anti-war candidate — took his campaign to the nation’s first primary state, New Hampshire.

He then finished a very strong second to President Johnson, sending shockwaves through the Democratic Party establishment. McCarthy’s strong showing brought Sen. Robert F. Kennedy into the race. Then on March 31, 1968, LBJ spoke to the nation to announce an end to the bombing campaign against North Vietnam — and then said he would not seek or accept the Democratic nomination “for another term as your president.”

History does have a way of repeating itself. If only Gov. Weld can mount any sort of serious challenge to the wack job serving as president of the United States.

One’s hope must spring eternal. Mine does.

2020 could produce The (Actual) Year of the Woman

The Year of the Woman was thought to be 1992.

Clarence Thomas had to fend off allegations of sexual harassment from Anita Hill at his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings. The controversy produced an outcry from those who said Hill was treated badly by the all-male U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

So the next presidential election was thought to produce an electoral backlash against President Bush, who lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

Here we are now, 27 years later and we’re going to see another Year of the Woman. Indeed, more women than men so far have announced their candidacies for president of the United States. Why do you suppose is bringing out all these women who want to succeed Donald Trump as president?

Gosh, it might be that Trump has denigrated women since the moment he announced his presidential candidacy in 2015. It might be the way he has acknowledged how his status as a “celebrity” and a “star” allowed him to grab women by their genital area.

The plethora of female candidates for POTUS might be a result of the #MeToo movement that has brought serious national attention to the way women have been dismissed and disrespected — and sexually assaulted — by men in power.

The Year of the Woman in 1992 was a preliminary event to what well might be the main event coming up in 2020.

How might POTUS defend his record?

The 2020 presidential election campaign is taking shape. Democrats are lining up seemingly by the dozens to campaign against Donald J. Trump, the Republican incumbent.

I’ll have more to say about the contenders later. Today, I feel the need to explore the type of campaign this incumbent president is going to wage.

Donald Trump had no public service record to commend him for election as president in 2016. He relied instead on a phony argument that he was a self-made zillionaire who worked hard to build a real estate empire from scratch. It turned out that isn’t the case. Voters bought it anyway and he was elected.

Now he’s running for re-election. As the incumbent, the president has a record now on which he must run. He is going to be asked to defend his record. How in the world is he going to do that?

The nation already has undergone two partial government shutdowns on Trump’s watch; a third shutdown might occur at the end of the week. He has groveled in front of Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, refusing to acknowledge publicly that Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016. Trump has heaped praise on North Korean despot Kim Jong Un after threatening to blow his country to smithereens with “fire and fury” the likes of which the world has never seen.

He went to Europe and scolded NATO allies because they weren’t paying more for their defense; along the way he has hinted that the United States might withdraw from its most vital military alliance.

Trump campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to build The Wall along our southern border and said “Mexico is going to pay for it”; Mexico isn’t paying for it, period, meaning that he wants you and me to pay the bill. The president’s rhetorical clumsiness has revealed a host of frightening views, such as his assertion that the KKK/Nazi rally in Charlottesville rally and riot included “fine people, on both sides.”

Now that Trump has a record to defend, I am left to ask: How in the world is this guy going to sell it to voters? How does he reach beyond his base of supporters to ensure that he gets re-elected?

He has spent his term in office kowtowing to his base. He has done damn little to reach beyond that core 38 percent of voters who think he is the best thing to happen since pockets on shirts.

Just as Donald Trump defied conventional wisdom by being elected in 2016 with zero public service experience, he seeks to do it again in 2020 by defending a presidential term that has far less to show for it than he will trumpet along the campaign trail.

He savaged his Republican primary foes with insults and innuendo en route to the GOP nomination in 2016; he continued to toss grenades at Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. I look for much more of the same from the incumbent this time around.

The 2016 presidential campaign was ugly enough. The 2020 campaign is looking like a bloodbath.

Who’ll be left to, um, legislate?

One of the negative points that former Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke sought to make against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 was that Cruz spent too much time running for president and too little time casting votes on behalf of Texans.

Interesting point, yes? Sure it is!

But . . . get a load of this: Five current U.S. senators and one U.S. House member already are running for president of the United States in 2020. A sixth Democratic senator is getting ready to announce her presidential candidacy.

Does the criticism that O’Rourke leveled against Cruz carry any weight when it is thrown at the growing herd of Democrats getting ready to run against Donald Trump over the next year?

And get this, there might be even more members of Congress jumping into this mob. The Senate comprises 47 Democrats. I count at least nine, maybe 10 of them either already running or preparing to run for president. Think of it: 20 to 25 percent of the Senate Democratic caucus could be running for the party’s presidential nomination. Wow!

Hey, members of Congress have every right to seek higher office. I don’t begrudge them for seeking the chance to do better than the incumbent. In this instance, as it pertains to the current incumbent president, that isn’t much of a stretch.

Still, it does open each of them up to the same criticism that Beto tossed at Ted Cruz in 2018.

Just sayin’, man.

Beto vs. Cornyn in 2020?

Beto O’Rourke reportedly is pondering whether to run for president of the United States in 2020. He told Oprah Winfrey he will decide by the end of March if he’s in the White House hunt. I believe the former Democratic congressman from West Texas has gotten stars in his eyes.

I would vote for him if lightning were to strike and he would face Donald Trump in the general election. However, he is not my first choice to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

I’ve got that off my chest.

James Henson, director of the Texas Public Policy Project at the University of Texas-Austin, thinks O’Rourke’s best option is to challenge Sen. John Cornyn next year. Henson believes O’Rourke — who came within a chip shot of beating Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 — could defeat Cornyn.

Beto’s bubble isn’t about to burst. His candidacy against Cruz energized a heretofore moribund Texas Democratic Party as he campaigned in all 245 Texas counties. The GOP-heavy state hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide for more than two decades.

Is it time for a viable Democrat to crash through that wall in 2020? Perhaps. James Henson believes Beto is better suited to run against Cornyn than to take on a gigantic Democratic Party presidential primary field.

Henson wrote an essay for the Washington Post right after the 2018 election. You can see it here.

Whatever the young man from El Paso decides is in his future, it is becoming obvious that he intends to remain in pubic life. He wants to be elected to some sort of public office. I am not yet convinced he is ready to become president of the United States, although given a choice between Beto and The Donald in 2020, I wouldn’t flinch before casting my vote for the Texas Democrat.

However, I am thinking along the lines that James Henson has put forth: Beto O’Rourke stands a better chance of winning if he decides to take on Sen. John Cornyn.

Memo to coffee mogul: Billionaires need not run for POTUS

Howard Schultz’s name is “mud” in the eyes of millions of Americans who don’t want another gazillionaire to seek the presidency of the United States.

Count me as one of them.

Schultz says he is considering an independent run for president in 2020. He has long been aligned with Democrats, but now he says Democrats and Republicans have wrecked the political process. He wants to fix it. So he would seek the presidency as a “centrist independent.”

What are his skills? What commends this guy to become president?

Well, he is the former CEO of Starbucks, Inc., the Seattle-based coffee shop chain is noted for its “venti”-sized lattes, mochas and cappuccinos. Schultz calls himself a “self-made” mogul, who grew up “in the projects” and had to fight his way to the top of the business world.

Come to think of it, the current president of the United States said much the same thing as he campaigned for the only office he ever sought. Schultz has that in common with Donald Trump, too: He’s never run for public office; he has never served the public — apart from serving them (arguably) overpriced hot beverages.

Do I want another rich guy with no public service experience running for president? No. I want an experienced politician, someone who knows how government works, knows its limitations and understands that a president is not a dictator. Donald Trump hasn’t reacted well to the notion that he’s not a business CEO, that he is part of a three-legged stool that props up the federal government.

Presidents are not empowered to move mountains simply with the stroke of a pen, unlike a business magnate. Does the Starbucks guy understand that? I would not bet real money that he does.

There’s also the other back story in play. A Howard Schultz independent candidacy well might peel off votes from whomever the Democratic Party nominates in the summer of 2020 and it well might help ensure the re-election of the guy many millions of us do not want returned to the nation’s highest office.

Donald Trump can bellow all he wants about how “strong” the state of our Union is under his watch. I happen to disagree vehemently. The Union is fractured. It needs repair. It needs a president who understands government and knows how to work its complex machinery.

Trump isn’t the guy to do it. Neither is Howard Schultz.

I’ll just declare it up front: I want Americans to elect a politician as president of the United States. Hey, man . . . it’s a political job!

Beto is about to run for POTUS?

I have to agree with Oprah Winfrey, who told Beto O’Rourke that he seems like a 2020 presidential candidate.

Winfrey interviewed O’Rourke as part of a series of discussions on her OWN Network. O’Rourke, the former West Texas congressman, told Winfrey he will decide by March whether to run for president next year.

Family is the major consideration for O’Rourke, a husband and father of three young children.

OK, let me stipulate once again: I don’t believe O’Rourke is ready to become commander in chief, the head of state and leader of the world’s most indispensable nation. Yes, he captured Democrats’ fancy with his near-win in the race for the U.S. Senate from Texas. I wanted him to defeat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm election. He came within a couple of percentage points of doing so, which in GOP-heavy Texas is a big . . . deal.

Oprah weighs in on Beto

Winfrey is correct to assume O’Rourke will run. Why? Well, he wouldn’t be sitting for interviews such as the one he did with Oprah if he intended to stay on the sidelines. So, it looks for all the world as if the young former congressman from El Paso is going all-in for president in 2020.

Do not misunderstand me here. If by some astonishing set of circumstances that O’Rourke can parlay the excitement he generated in Texas into a national following and actually get nominated for president, then he has my support.

That’s especially true if the GOP nominee is Donald John Trump, who I believe with very fiber of my being should not have been elected president in the first place. He is unfit for the office at any level I can imagine.

Beto O’Rourke, although he is green and untested on the national stage, would be my strong preference.

First, though, he has to make that decision. I believe Beto has made it already.

Has Beto waited too long?

Beto O’Rourke’s legion of followers might be witnessing a total eclipse of a political star.

The one-time West Texas congressman who came tantalizingly close to defeating Ted Cruz in the race for the U.S. Senate is now watching on the sidelines as three former congressional colleagues scarf up all the headlines while running for president.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have become the flavors of the moment. As Politico reports, those on the sidelines are waiting for one or more of them to mess up. Beto might be one of them waiting with bated breath.

I am not yet convinced that Beto O’Rourke is presidential material. He’s a young man. He waged an unconventional, no-consultant, no-polling campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas. He damn near won against a Republican incumbent!

He has nowhere to go but . . . down? Not really.

However, politics is often like baseball, meaning that “timing is everything.” Given the pace of politics in this Internet/social media/ digital age it appears possible that Beto O’Rourke’s window might be closing. He’s not alone, of course. A crowd of other Democrats are being caught flat-footed by the excitement generated already as the 2020 campaign starts to ignite.

Kamala Harris’s announcement was a spectacular event. Elizabeth Warren is seeking to shed the baggage she piled on herself with that DNA test to prove her native American heritage. Cory Booker is seen by some as “too establishment” to suit the base of the Democratic Party.

Does that make Sen. Harris the early frontrunner? Oh, it’s possible, I suppose.

As for Beto O’Rourke, I am thinking he’d better decide quickly whether he’s in . . . or out.

Hey, there’s always 2024!

‘Unity’ becomes cliche of the 2020 campaign season

Cory Booker launched his 2020 presidential campaign today. The New Jersey Democratic U.S. senator declared — to no one’s surprise — that he pledges to “unify” the country.

Let’s see. Who else has said that? Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and any number of other Democrats — declared or undeclared candidates — have said the same thing.

So, too, has the man they want to defeat, Republican Donald J. Trump, the current president of the United States.

Trump has failed at every level to unify the country. He speaks only to his base when he rails against illegal immigrants, when he speaks of banning travelers from Muslim countries, when he bans transgender Americans from serving in the military, when he repeals Barack Obama-era environmental regulations.

He cares not one damn bit about the rest of us.

So now we have Democrats declaring their intention to succeed Trump. They want to “unify” the country. I am likely to scream when I hear that platitude fly out of the mouth of the next Democrat who decides to run against Trump.

It is a cliché that has no meaning to me. To say you intend to do something doesn’t equate immediately to any tangible result.

What I want to hear from all these presidential candidates are specifics on how they intend to deliver on the noble promise. Yes, it might be a worn-out cliché, but it is a noble one.

However, enough with the empty pledges.

Beto on Texas vote turnout: It’s a conspiracy?

Readers of this blog know that I admire Beto O’Rourke, the former West Texas congressman who nearly got elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018.

However, I believe the young man is mistaken when he offers this reason — as published in this Twitter message — for the historically low voter turnout in Texas. He blames it on some sort of conspiracy by “those in power.”

Hmm. Here’s my take on it.

I believe Texans at times suffer from a case of “voter fatigue.” It’s also a bit of a cultural phenomenon that afflicts suppressed voter turnout here. The lowest percentage of turnouts occur in states that formerly comprised the Old Confederacy. Does that mean we care less about the health of our form of government that citizens who live in high-turnout states such as Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington? No, it doesn’t mean that all.

Texas’ Constitution establishes a lot of electoral offices. We vote for our entire slate of statewide constitutional offices every four years; those elections occur during those “midterm” years. We vote for municipal and school district offices every odd-numbered year. If we live in a community college district, we get to vote on boards of regents, too!

O’Rourke blames this lack of turnout on the ability of “those in power” to suppress voter participation. I believe that is an overly cynical view.

I remain a voting traditionalist. I prefer to vote on Election Day when I’ll be at home. I am no fan of vote by mail, which some states require; it’s been said that the high turnout in Oregon and Washington is a direct result of those states’ mail-voting provisions.

I would like to see Election Day turned into a national holiday. I would like to see state, local and federal governments conduct intensive public-service campaigns to encourage voter turnout.

As a voting junkie, I enjoy the prospect of standing in line at my polling place and waiting my turn to exercise my constitutional right of citizenship.

I just cannot buy into Beto’s belief that the lack of turnout in Texas is the result of some dark conspiracy.

What now? Well, Beto might run for president in 2020. Maybe he can channel the enthusiasm he generated in his near-miss loss for the U.S. Senate in Texas into a national wave. That would dispel any conspiratorial notion, correct?