Point of View Columns

Herding Democratic Cats

Donald Trump has taken the expression “anybody can be president” and turned it into a caricature of his own presidency. He has set the bar so low that now literally anybody believes that they can be president. Look at the gaggle of candidates that have encountered their conversion into a presidential candidate as they encountered their transformation much as Saul of Tarsus became Paul on the road to Damascus. A coffee salesman, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana (seriously???), a spiritual advisor and many more are deluging the media in a way that would cause a Russian hacker to blush. And then there are the Democrats.

It is an article of political faith that a third party candidate would almost ensure Trumps reelection and that is why the Democratic nomination appears to be the most likely way to win three free debates with Donald Trump as well as the presidency of the United States as a bonus. And there are enough people who believe that they could/should be president and see the Democratic nomination as the vehicle to realize that dream. And so, by the end of the month of April 2019 there may be as many as twenty (20) (XX) men and women running for the Democratic nomination.

There is such a thing as an embarrassment of riches and then there is such a thing as too much. The surfeit of wannabe presidential candidates is turning into a circular firing squad of epic proportions. There is simply no way that all of the candidates for the Democratic nomination, announced and going-to-announce can be successful, but there is a way that this highly ambitious group of overachievers can exhaust the attention span of the American voters so that by the time the Democrats convene in Milwaukee in July of 2020, only the very close relatives of the candidates and miscellaneous media masochists will care.

Anyone and everyone can understand the collective dismay at the thought of a Trump second term. As bad as this man has been as president, he has provided clear evidence that there is no bottom to the swamp of discord, lies, racism, white supremacy and neonationalism in which he resides. Nevertheless, there is no way that 15-20 eager Democrats can define and craft a coherent message that will stop the impending disaster of Trump’s reelection.

Perhaps Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, can make one of his increasingly rare appearances and bring his party to order. He is a veteran of electoral politics and he must know that this candidate cattle call will not end well for the Democratic Party. If the former governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper can raise $1 million in a day, and if South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg can raise $7 million in a month, a fundraising criteria may not thin the herd. But if he can get this herd of hounds who want to catch the fox called Trump to agree that anyone not polling over 5% by Labor Day 2019 will graciously withdraw from the race, the Democrats stand a chance of avoiding the Republican errors of 2016 when the sixteen candidates striving to succeed Barack Obama were distilled into the toxic Trump candidacy.

While there may not be a Trump in hiding in the Democratic candidates corral, there is no way that the best candidate will necessarily come out of the process at this point in time. And there is a real danger that in a 20 person field, the winner will stagger into combat with 19 arrows in his/her back and then have to do battle with a fat and sleek and rested Trump. That will not be a fair fight.

This no longer a partisan issue. There is a national crisis besetting this country and it goes by the name Donald J. Trump. Right now the Democratic Party offers the best chance for this country to avoid true disaster.

The Democrats need to figure this out and get it right. Now.