Election 2020 #2

My Less Than Humble Biases

Before I begin this review of the December 19th Democratic Presidential Debate, it’s only fair to list some biases that may affect my perception of the candidates:

  • I am really annoyed when a candidate makes a campaign promise that will be difficult to accomplish, but expresses it in words that sound like, “Vote for me and this will happen.” There’s only so much that a President can accomplish by executive order … and the next President can reverse those orders.
     
  • I would like to see how a woman would do the job of President. Although Donald Trump may be the worst President we’ve ever had, he’s not the first to really botch the job.
     
        Question:  What has every U.S. President had in common?
        Answer:     A Y-chromosome.
     
  • I do not believe the formula: “Successful Businessperson = Successful President”. Running a company … particularly a privately-owned company … requires a skill set that is different from the skill set required for “running” a country. The two skill sets are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but neither guarantees the other. [1]
     
  • When a Presidential candidate (or anyone else who should know better) talks about changing a feature of our political system that requires Congressional authorization, a new law, or even a Constitutional amendment, I believe that candidate is either totally ignorant of how our government works … or, is lying to the people. [2]
     

The December 19th Democratic Debate

Winners

Joe Biden 150Joe Biden did better in this debate than he did in the earlier ones in this election cycle. He seemed more focused; more direct; indeed, more Presidential than in earlier debates. I was particularly impressed by his statements about keeping in touch with those who had asked for his help. Some may have been upset by his reference to a boy who stuttered. (I can hear his detractors comparing him to Candidate Trump’s portrayal of a reporter who suffers from arthrogryposis. “The ‘fake news’ slammed the President for doing the same thing Biden’s doing.”)  When you know that Joe Biden was a severe stutterer himself, his description of a stutterer becomes not mockery, but empathy. [3]  

Bernie Sanders 150WBernie Sanders did well too. He seemed less like “crazy old man” Bernie and more like “Senator/Statesman” Bernie. The rest and recovery after his heart attack seems to have left him more vigorous than before. The more manageable number of candidates in this debate provided all the candidates with an opportunity to present their ideas. Bernie used that opportunity to clarify the concepts of social democracy that he supports without giving the Trumpists anything to support the inaccurate equation Democratic Socialism = Communism.

Amy Klobuchar 150WI am doubly biased when it comes to Amy Klobuchar … my default bias that it’s way past time for a woman to be President of the United States and, my admiration of her pragmatic approach to dealing with complex problems. I was first impressed with her handling of Brett Kavanaugh‘s belligerence at the Senate Judiciary hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court. In some of the earlier debates, Amy was the one who cut through posturing and theorizing to point out that the purpose of the debates was to present their respective plans for our country’s future rather than to pick at the fine points of each others’ past mistakes.

Andrew Yang 150WI think that Andrew Yang sees the beginnings of the socioeconomic change from “working to live” to “living to work” that I discussed in What Will We Do When The Jobs End?” Andrew described his “Freedom Dividend” as a first step in both stimulating the economy … by allowing more of us to be consumers … and averting the societal disaster that could come from extreme, but possibly sudden, economic change as we shift away from human labor to machine labor.

Tom Steyer 150WWhile I disagree with the ideas that Tom Steyer expresses in some of his commercials, his plan to designate Climate Change as a National Emergency on the first day of his presidency is right on target. Most of the Democratic Party candidates have agreed that the United States needs to be part of the Paris Agreement  on climate change. Tom wants the U.S. to be the country that leads the world into averting a multitude of climate-related problems through dramatic action, rather than with little more than promises and hand wringing. [4]  

Losers

Pete Buttigieg Debating 150I was particularly annoyed Elizabeth Warren Debating 150with the bickering match between Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg about campaign funding. I was so taken aback by their interaction that I cannot recall anything else either of them said. Both expressed and defended reasonable concerns. Neither focused on the overarching concern of  Democrats, true Republicans,  the Constitution,  and the World … the threat of the “Trumpist cult” that has taken over the Republican party. Their bickering served no useful purposed and may have weakened the position of anti-Trumpists everywhere.

Tom Steyer 150WTom Steyer wins the special prize of being both a winner and a loser. He gets most of his “loser points” from his commercials. In one of his ads, Tom talks about imposing term limits on Congress. The 22nd Amendment was proposed after Franklin Roosevelt had been elected for four consecutive terms. The Republican-controlled Congress quickly passed the Resolution with the 2/3 vote from each house of Congress specified in Article V of the Constitution. It seems unlikely that any Congressional leader could find the required votes to pass a resolution limiting their own futures. The only possible way to successfully pass an Amendment to set Congressional term limits would have to be through the request for a Constitutional Convention from 2/3 of the states (34). Good luck with that.

Michael Bloomberg 75WTom shares his other erroneous-thinking-touted-in-commercials with Michael Bloomberg (who does not seem to be interested in debating the other Democratic candidates). Each points to his business experience as something that will make him a good President. I absolutely disagree. Running a company is not equivalent to running a country. The former requires a boss; the latter requires an administrator. I will grant that both of them have better Presidential resumes than the snake oil salesman who currently inhabits the White House. Steyer has been a philanthropist and political activist for much of this century; Bloomberg was Mayor of New York City for a dozen years and is also well-known for his philanthropic endeavors.

You both have good credentials guys. Being able to get rich just isn’t one of them. 

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End Notes
  1. This bias is not based solely on the performance of President Donald Trump. (I’m not convinced that he has ever been a successful businessman.) Surveys of historians, political scientists and presidential scholars conducted by the Siena College Research Institute and American Political Science Association support my bias:
     
    Businessmen Who Became President 
    Return to Point of Reference


  2. The two “exaggerations” that are being stated or implied in the current round of political advertisements are “imposing term limits on Congress” and “abolishing the Electoral College.
     
    It took an amendment to the Constitution (the 22nd) to impose term limits on the Presidency. It seems unlikely that Congressional term limits would require less.
     
    The Electoral College is defined in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. Actually abolishing it would almost certainly require a Constitutional amendment. There may be some ways to work around the Electoral College that reduce its ill effects.
     
    Return to Point of Reference


  3. Knowing that Biden suffered from stuttering sheds a new light of some of his earlier debate performances. What appears to be hesitancy or confusion may, in fact, be common stutterer’s coping mechanisms such as eye closing or blinking, pausing to avoid a stutter-triggering word, etc. You may have noticed that Biden’s presentation is much smoother on the campaign trail or talking in a one-on-one setting. The stutterer tells are almost non-existent in these contexts.
     
    Return to Point of Reference


  4. If President Trump wants to have a prosperous post-presidency, perhaps he should consider building windmills rather than tilting at them.
     
    Return to Point of Reference
     
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