CRISIS, AMBITION, SERVICE AND SACRIFICE
I am writing this on the eve of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of France which led, eleven months later, to the fall of the National Socialist Third Reich and the victory of the Allies in Europe. As I write this, the President of the United States is in the United Kingdom, as were hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of Allied warfighters 75 years ago. Those soldiers, sailors and airmen waited in trepidation and resolve for the opportunity to free Europe from fascism, perhaps at the cost of their own lives. Our President is simply waiting for another opportunity to embarrass America or meddle in an ally’s political life, hopefully to draw attention to himself.
There are almost two dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls back here in America, each looking for an opportunity to also draw attention to themselves in an attempt to gain the right to run against Donald Trump in 2020 as their party’s nominee. I expect we will see more than a year of increasingly personal criticism and rancor as the Democratic field is winnowed down to one inevitable, or perhaps two potential nominees by the time of the nominating convention. That’s how we normally do this and have done it for decades.
But these are not normal times. And we must not pretend they are. And we must not shrink from bold action, even at the expense of personal political ambition.
Approximately 175,000 troops took part in the invasion; approximately 4400 died on that day. The unevenly-distributed losses were a burden, especially to the families of the fallen, but the attrition rate was lighter than had been feared. In some contrast, the “attrition rate” for current Democratic presidential candidates will be greater than 95%. A lot of money will be spent before that attrition will have stopped. A lot of bad blood will likely be generated in the upcoming year. And, if 2016 is any indication, some of the division sowed into the Democratic Party during that time will continue to hamper the effort to displace President Trump, perhaps even dooming it to the fruitless result we experienced in 2016.
In current polling, Joe Biden enjoys an approximately 8 point advantage over Donald Trump in aggregated general election polling, a “beach head” to continue the D-Day conceit. If the Democratic primary process continues, how eroded will that beach head become at the hands of Democrats? How many times will the Biden of 2019 be pilloried for the behavior of Biden of 1991? To what end? To help a man who boasts of grabbing women “by the pussy” keep the highest office in the land?
I propose that the current crop of Democratic candidates withdraw and endorse Joe Biden. By virtue of that 8 point beach head, Biden has a head-start on defeating Donald Trump. I propose in turn that Biden promise that he will NOT run in 2024, leaving the field open for the next generation of Democrats.
What would be any benefit to those 20 plus current candidates who would step aside? There are several. The first and most personally beneficial would be the ennobling halo such a gesture of self-sacrifice would provide. President Trump represents every bit the threat to American democracy that fascism did in the 1940s, maybe even a greater threat. Every day we hear of new assaults which Mr. Trump and his underlings make on the rule of law in the United states. Every day brings another attack on the constitutional rights and balances which have held our nation together since its founding. Every day, the government of the United states becomes a little more an apparatus to reflect President Trump’s ego
It falls to the Democrats to make this sacrifice, because no Republican of any stature has the courage or wherewithal to do so. Like the French had fallen before Guderian’s panzers in and collapsed in political fecklessness in 1940, the Republican Party was not prepared in 2016 for the blitzkrieg of lies and insults that swept Trump into the nomination and eventually the Oval Office. So it falls to the Democrats to rescue both American democracy and the Republican Party.
The American constitutional system does not depend on a string of enlightened philosopher-kings for success. In fact, the White House has historically been a comparatively weak place to move public opinion (except for stumbling into wars.) “Obamacare” wasn’t Obama’s idea, it was Mitt Romney’s and the Heritage Foundation’s first. Donald Trump didn’t run on a platform of tax cuts. But when the Republican-controlled Congress sent him tax cuts he signed them because that maintained peace with Congress. To those Democrats who claim Biden is not “progressive enough” I promise that if progressive health care, tax or immigration bills pass Congress, Biden will sign them.
And what are these “noble” Democrats to do in the intervening four years? WORK FOR CHANGE! Each one claims some pet progressive project. And in the legislature is where those progressive ideas and programs can develop, gain strength, and become law. If each of you really wants to be of public service and are not simply seeking to feed your own private ambition, four years of moving American forward, for years of working toward economic and social justice would not be wandering in the wasteland. Work for Democratic congressional and senatorial candidates. Stump for progressive ideas. Counter the lies that big money, soft money, powerful money perpetuates with the power of truth. Relentlessly educate America about real dangers like climate change, erosive social inequality and the corrupting power of money in politics
The American body politic is in crisis. If it is to survive in a form we recognize, sacrifices are called for. Work is needed. Unity is required. To every Democratic candidate: think of America, examine our heart: Is your personal ambition worth risking another Trump administration? Is your personal chance as one out of more than twenty more important than banding together to ensure the defeat of this threat to American democracy?