The Democrats will win big in 2020, thanks to a chaotic, compromised, and divisive President, shifting demographics, and widespread support for Democratic policies on health care, immigration, and gun safety.
There are too many candidates for the Presidency, now, and perhaps too few for the Senate, but every one of the declared candidates who has served in elective office has a record of honorable service and deep understanding of public policy. The current roster shows the deep bench strength of the party and until it narrows down the breadth and gravitas of the candidates will serve as a reminder to the voters of what principled, thoughtful, knowledgeable public officials look like. They have the additional advantage of not having to pretend to support the ignorant racism, sexism, misogyny, and corruption of the current President or justify his policies, which appear to be a combination of whim and crony-ism.
The Democratic candidates for President were beginning to go after each other, but President Trump’s appalling recent outburst directed at four female Members of Congress has had the salutary effect of uniting them again. It makes sense for them to emphasize all they have in common and direct their criticism at their common opponent, President Trump. Bonus: the best possible campaign message the Democrat candidates can deliver is that they are everything President Trump is not: calm, well-informed, respectful, mature, dignified, collegial, modest, and fully committed to the public good. The stark contrast will bring in more votes than any petty one-upsmanship about who supported what when or whose plan for achieving the shared goals is marginally better than the others.
I recommend that all of the Democratic candidates agree to a set of principles like those I have enumerated below, along the lines of the Republicans who sign off on the Grover Norquist tax pledge. And I propose that they adopt what I call the New Trier rule, named after my high school where, at least when I was a student, we had many candidates for all of the class officer elections, but then those who were elected appointed the ones who were not to cabinet-level positions. This country would benefit greatly from having, say, Kamala Harris as Attorney General, Jay Inslee as head of the EPA or Interior Department, Mayor Pete as head of Homeland Security or Veterans Affairs, Cory Booker as Secretary of Education, Joe Biden as Secretary of State.
They should make clear that they support each other. They share the same goals for a safe, secure America, good jobs, educational opportunity, access to affordable health care, the right to practice whatever religious faith you wish but not to impose that on anyone else. They may disagree about the best way to achieve those goals, but they will refrain from personal attacks and commit to working together to support whoever is elected. They welcome good ideas from anyone. And they recognize that the Republicans acknowledge the weakness of their positions by throwing around terms that may get their focus groups excited — like “socialism” — but have no relationship to any of the policies they support, not to mention the dictionary or reality.
So every one of the Democratic candidates should be willing to sign off on these, emphasizing their common ground instead of their differences:
We will not employ any family members in West Wing White House jobs and we will insist on adherence to all ethics and conflict of interest rules for all appointees.
We will release at least five years of tax returns.
We support sensible gun safety including lifting restrictions on research by the Center for Disease Control and required and regularly updated safety training for guns along the same lines as cars.
We respect science and support the scientific assessment and solutions to the problem of climate change. All science positions in the government will be filled by people with extensive expertise and a record of peer-reviewed research, not by lobbyists and industry insiders.
Individuals and entities are entitled to support the candidates of their choice as long as all lobbying and campaign contributions are clearly disclosed in publicly accessible databases. We will accept no money from dark money groups and once in office will work to take whatever steps necessary to make sure that every penny that goes to an elected official or candidate is disclosed.
We promise public disclosure of all visitors to the White House and executive branch agencies.
We will work to prohibit any lobbying by former members of Congress and strictly enforce limits on lobbying by former government officials including Hill staff.
We support women’s health including birth control, fertility, and prenatal and infant care with a commitment to lowest in the world rates of infant mortality. The determination of personhood before birth is a religious one, not medical or political, and any decision about termination of pregnancy is to be made by women in consultation with medical professionals.
We commit to regular and robust press conferences in the White House and all Cabinet agencies and to treating the press like the essential foundation of democracy they are.
We commit to restoring access to resolutely empirical, objective, and transparent government data and relying on independent experts, not corporate insiders. We will never claim to reduce poverty by changing the definition of poverty or improving the quality of air and water by changing the definitions of pollution and we will never call anything “freedom gas.”
We commit to protecting voting rights for all American citizens, including eliminating gerrymandering and promoting access to the polls, making voter registration automatic, and making Election Day a holiday.
We commit to clean water in Flint, rebuilding in areas waiting for disaster relief, returning all children separated at the border to their families and working with the families to provide support, equality for all LGBTIA Americans, who are a vital part of our military, our schools, our families, and our workplaces.
We consider any interference with our elections an act of war or treason and will impose the most severe sanctions on any country or individual who tampers with voting rights and the integrity of the voting system.
These views are not just universally held by the Democratic Presidential candidates; they are overwhelmingly supported by the American people. The more the candidates emphasize these principles, the more the map will turn blue in 2020.