Friday, October 19, 2018

Beto and Julian in 2020

Julian Castro opted for a more traditional means of proposing his candidacy than did Liz Warren -- a memoir.  If you remember this was how many of us first heard about Barack Obama.  It pays to get your name out early and a heartwarming story about yourself generates a lot of positive buzz.

Castro, and for that matter Warren, probably would have run in 2016 had not Hillary taken so long to announce her candidacy.  She essentially froze out her potential competition, as no Democrat wanted to invest in a race they felt was hers for the taking, which she finally did but with the disastrous result we are still trying to come to terms with.

Bernie, a septuagenarian social liberal was the only serious candidate willing to challenge her and might have won had not the superdelegates been stacked against him from the start.  These were delegates who weren't supposed to commit themselves until the end of the primaries, but had already done so, which meant Hillary essentially started out with a 1000-delegate lead.  The DNC has since revised its rules on superdelegates so that 2020 candidates start out on pretty much a level playing field.

I like Liz,  but she's 69 and will be 71 come November 2020.  By contrast, Castro is 44 and ironically will be 46 come election day, given that he could be our 46th president.  I'm not an ageist, but it seems to me that if you want young people to vote why not go with a guy or gal more to the middle of the age spectrum rather than one who would be retired if she was in any other profession besides politics or the Supreme Court.

When Democrats won the White House, they did so with younger candidates, namely Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both of whom were 46 during their first election years.  Kennedy was 43 in 1960, Johnson 56 in 1964 and Jimmy Carter 52 in 1976. Democrats have not fared well with older candidates, and that's largely because the demographic they would most strongly appeal to generally votes Republican.

Bernie was the rare exception in that he said the right things that appealed to younger voters.  But, Hillary looked and acted like an old person, and was unable to captivate younger voters, even with all her young celebrity endorsements.

Millennials represent the largest young generation since the Baby Boomers.  They are much derided by conservatives and for good reason -- they aren't social conservatives.  Poll after poll shows that Millennials line up with progressive causes by an overwhelming majority.  They mostly want universal health care, free university tuition, higher minimum wages, easier access to housing loans and a more open society.  All things the Republican Party rejects.

Unfortunately, the Democrats haven't done a very good job of appealing to Millennials on a national level.  We see young candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the local level, who ousted a late-middle-aged white guy, but on the national level the name most bandied about for 2020 is Joe Biden, who will be 77 during the election year.

Joe is a pretty cool guy, but his social values are all mired in the past and he has "loser" written all over him.  He has twice ran for President (1988 and 2008), dropping out of the race early both times because he couldn't generate enough interest in his candidacy.  His views have not changed.  If anything they have become calcified like his knee joints, and he is prone to goofy pronouncements like challenging Trump to a fist fight, which he was later forced to recant.

We need a young candidate as our 2020 nominee.  Julian is a good choice on many levels, but there are more potential candidates out there if only we made the effort to look.  For instance, Kamala Harris (53), Cory Booker (49), Beto O'Rourke (46), among many others.  We need a wide open race in 2020 not another coronation attempt.  If Joe is smart, he will plug one of these younger candidates, not waste our time by pondering a run himself.

The sad fact is that senior citizens are going to vote Republican each and every time.  It doesn't matter that Republicans want to take away their social security and medicare, they just feel better with a conservative in the White House.  Democrats, no matter how old, will never win their vote.  So, you go after the demographic that will cancel the seniors out -- the Millennials -- and  this young generation is anxious to weigh in on politics, just as the Baby Boomers were in the 60s and 70s.

So, I'm glad to see Julian Castro is pondering a run in 2020, and win or lose in Texas, I would like to see Beto throw his hat into the race as well, as right now his name is gold among Democrats.  This guy generated over $36 million in individual contributions over a three-month period, which puts him in the same company as Barack Obama when it comes to mobilizing supporters.  I can think of no better ticket than these two young progressives to rejuvenate the Democratic Party.

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