2020

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Like everyone, I’ve been thinking a lot about the 2020 Presidential race. It doesn't seem like Mueller has enough to indict Trump, which means the only hope of restoring our democracy lies with electing a new President. As much as I’d like to construct a scenario where the candidate of my choice wins, I can’t come up with a compelling rationale for why a centrist, moderate, pro-business Democrat takes back the White House. Here’s why:

1. Every time the Democrats have nominated a career politician this century – Gore, Kerry, Hillary – they’ve lost. The voters have made it abundantly clear that they don’t want someone who’s been planning this race since the third grade. Just because Biden rides Amtrak or Gillibrand went to Dartmouth instead of Yale doesn’t change the underlying dynamic. Nominating yet another career pol will likely result in the same outcome we saw in 2000, 2004 and 20016.

2. If you voted for Trump in 2016, you don’t really have any reason not to vote for him again. He’s horrible, but no more or less horrible than he was before the election. He’s exactly what we expected, exactly what we feared, exactly what he promised to be. If you were okay with it then, you’re okay with it now. Maybe the economy sours, but with 4.1% quarterly growth, Trump voters will feel completely comfortable and vindicated in their decision. They’re not changing sides.

3. If we assume Trump has the exact same support as 2016, the Democrats can only win by nominating someone who can draw enough new voters in the battleground states to tip the race. Hillary, fatally, assumed she’d draw the same level of African American support as Obama. Despite massive get out the vote efforts, neither Gore nor Kerry were able to lure that many new voters to the polls. The Democrats need someone who people will show up for, wait in line for, sacrifice for. That means a candidate who stands for more than their own ambition, their own resume, their own needs. It’s possible that candidate could come from a faction other than the far left (it’d be great), but whoever it is, if they’re just another typical Democrat that the Beltway feels inherently comfortable with, they’re gonna lose. 

4. I’m an independent. I left the Democratic party years ago and I think both parties are fundamentally corrupt. I’m also a venture capitalist with an emphasis on capitalist. So I have little interest in seeing Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren elected President. Except if the alternative is Trump. Which it is. I’m for any Democrat (or any candidate) who can beat Trump. And I don’t see how any Democrat who doesn’t lead and embody a movement can generate enough turnout to win. So if that means I have to support Sanders or Warren (or any younger movement candidate who embodies something bigger than just themselves), so be it.

5. We’ll see lots of candidates from lots of wings of the Democratic party emerge over the next year. Pundits and party loyalists will argue that such and such candidate resembles Obama or checks a lot of boxes or makes sense on paper. Paper candidates don’t win elections. There’s only one question to ask yourself as you read the tea leaves over the next twelve to eighteen months: which of these candidates can generate enough turnout to beat Trump. That’s it. Everything else is immaterial. If Biden or Garcetti or Landrieu or Bullock can do that, fantastic. I’d far prefer them to any Democratic Socialist.And if an independent with actual experience running something could win, so much the better. But I have a hard time seeing how they can. Politics is the art of the possible. We need to remember that. Especially now.

Bradley Tusk