There are currently 17 candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, and there seems to be a little something for everyone?
Do you want to vote for a socialist? Well, I’ve got great news for you, because socialism is the new black in the Democratic Party, and you’ve got plenty of people to choose from. Bernie Sanders, who called himself a socialist back before it was cool again, is joined by a number of people who either are comfortable with the label themselves, or embrace the same brand of extreme progressivism represented by Sanders. If you don’t like him, you can choose Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, or even Julian Castro.
Do you want to vote for a woman? The aforementioned Warren and Harris are joined by Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar and Marianne Williamson.
Speaking of Gabbard, do you like candidates who are not openly hostile to the people living outside of the cities and coastal areas? Gabbard is joined by Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and the eclectic but well-meaning Andrew Yang.
Would you like to bypass the typical smorgasbord of senators and governors that typically run for president, and vote for a mayor of small city? Well I’ve got good news, you can vote for Pete Buttigieg (South Bend, Indiana) or Wayne Messam (Miramar, Florida). And if you vote for Buttigieg, you also would get the first openly gay major party candidate to run for president.
Maybe you want somebody young. Buttigieg, Messam, Castro, Gabbard and Yang are all under the age of 50, with Buttigieg and Gabbard actually being in their 30s. Cory Booker just turned 50.
Or maybe you want somebody old? Sanders is 78 years old, Joe Biden is 76 and Warren is 70.
Want a billionaire? You’ve got Tom Steyer. Want somebody from an industrial state? Joe Sestak. Want somebody who is Minnesota nice and sometimes eats salads with a comb? Klobuchar. Want to vote for somebody you’ve never heard of? Messam, Williamson and Yang are joined by John Delaney. Maybe you love the state of Colorado? Michael Bennet is here for you.
There is literally something for everyone. Rich candidates. Poor candidates. Diverse candidates. Old while male candidates. Insiders. Outsiders. Everything.
None of which counts the nine other Democrats that have already dropped out by the way. We’ve already lost Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke, Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, and several others.
You would think that 26 people running for president would give the Democrats what they need. Someone in that strange collection of people would be a good choice to take on Donald Trump.
So why does it seem no one wants to vote for these people? Why is it that Democrats keep falling all over themselves to jump into the race, even at this incredibly late stage, to fill some kind of space they don’t think is being filled right now?
Michael Bloomberg has, for what seems like the hundredth time, decided to dip his toes in the water, maybe even getting in this time. We learned recently that while no official decision has been announced, he has filed to run in Alabama and Arkansas, and is also an official candidate in the state of Michigan.
Not to be outdone, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is apparently also of the impression that the field needs whatever he has to offer, and will be making some kind of formal announcement by Nov. 14 at the earliest.
And the pièce de résistance of this circus is Hillary Clinton. “I, as I say, never, never, never say never,” she told BBC radio this week, “and I will certainly tell you I’m under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it.”
Heaven help us.
So how, exactly, can such a massive field of people with great differences from one another somehow be so unsatisfying that halfway through November — which is much too late in presidential politics — we still have major candidates thinking about getting in?
I think the answer is ultimately related to the dissatisfaction the Democrats have with the realistic options they have. Right now, the only five candidates that have even the slightest chance of winning the nomination are Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and Harris.
Looking at the polls, the choice as it stands today seems to really be between Biden and Warren, and neither one of them are what anyone would call good candidates. Biden is old, often confused, gaffe prone, and is viewed with distrust by the progressive base. Warren is angry, and is so unbelievably extreme that she risks a McGovern style rejection in the general election.
So neither of those choices seems good, and the other realistic options aren’t much better.
I guess, at the end of the day, 26 people isn’t enough, and I’d keep looking too.