Samir Mehta | February 23, 2020
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Steve West | February 23, 2020
I'd vote for a penguin with a spear through its head before I voted for that IDIOT'S reelection. But as far as real democratic candidates go, Sanders for me comes in sixth. And if there were any new candidates, they'd immediately place ahead of him.

Samir Mehta | February 23, 2020
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Chris Lemler | February 24, 2020
How does everyone feel about a dark horse in the Democratic party Andrew Yang?

Erik Bates | February 25, 2020
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Samir Mehta | February 25, 2020
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Scott Hardie | February 26, 2020
I liked Andrew Yang. He was personable and funny in interviews, and never unrealistic about his chances. And more importantly, his signature proposal was an attempt to address one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the near future, mass unemployment through the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence. Even if you don't think UBI was the right solution, you can at least acknowledge that Yang was making a serious attempt to deal with the problem, unlike the other candidates who are generally ignoring it. (I'm trying to summarize the scale of that particular problem here, and finding it too difficult. I think I'll start a separate discussion so as not to derail this.)

Chris, what did you think of Yang?

As for Elizabeth Warren, I've heard it said that her failure to explain how she'd pay for her health care proposal was the critical flaw in her campaign, since it undermined her persona as the politician with a detailed plan for everything. Plus, she was criticized by the other candidates for this when she was leading in the polls last summer, giving her plenty of time to lose momentum even after she finally released a plan to pay for it. Bernie Sanders still hasn't given a good answer as to how he'd pay for Medicare for All, but until this week, nobody has really challenged him on it, letting his campaign skate by where Warren's collapsed. I don't know if that fully explains her lack of support, but it's a start.

I hate to say it because it's so petty and meaningless, but I suspect that the controversy over claiming Native American heritage damaged Warren too, by becoming one of the things that she was known for and forced to talk about, instead of letting her put her best foot forward with serious policy talk. When the controversy erupted last summer over that video in which her DNA analysis confirmed her claim to having Native American blood, and the Native American spokespeople angrily denounced her claim and said she's not a member of a tribe, I thought, "That's silly. She's not claiming that she IS Native, just that she has some DNA. If I was famous and mentioned that I happen to have some Norwegian genetic ancestry, that would be like the prime minister of Norway angrily declaring to the press that Scott Hardie is NOT a citizen of Norway, which is not what I said." But as time passed, I came around to the Native opposition to Warren, which is rooted in three problems: 1) Unlike national citizenship, tribal membership works very differently, and the boundary deserves to be respected, and Warren blurred the line. 2) Too many white people claim Native ancestry for personal gain, and this fraud needs to stop, and Warren gave them cover. 3) Although Warren has apologized unequivocally, which is great (far more than some politicians would do), she has not yet acknowledged the first two problems.

Samir, do you think this explains Warren's lack of support? Do you think there's more to it? I didn't mention the sexism, but that's likely a factor too. (Kelly thinks it's the sole factor.)

As to my original question about Bernie Sanders: I think he'd be a better president than our corrupt and dangerously autocratic current leader, but so would every other candidate in the race, even my last choice, Mike Bloomberg. Sanders's laser focus on his signature issues is a blessing and a curse. I don't see how in the world he would accomplish most of his policy goals with an intransigent Republican Senate, but after Obama's failures in that regard, I don't see any Democratic president accomplishing much until either the Senate is flipped or its rules are reformed. I like Sanders's proposal to eliminate student loan debt, and I love his Medicare for All proposal. We must switch to socialized medicine in this country, because more and more of us have to choose between severe illness or bankruptcy; the position that we've gotten ourselves into with for-profit medicine is absurd, and maybe the craziest thing about it is that we don't even recognize how absurd it is. I was concerned that Sanders (and Warren) favored a rapid, risky transition to socialized medicine, which would be a hell of a jolt to the economy, but I have been soothed by learning that there's a detailed transition plan to ease the pain.

I confess that I'm concerned about Sanders's age. It feels ageist, but come on, Sanders would be 79 at his inauguration. Reagan left office at 77, probably hobbled by Alzheimer's. Trump was the oldest president ever inaugurated, and if he served two full terms, he'd still be younger upon leaving office than Sanders would be upon assuming it. My mother is 80 and her partner is 87, and after spending a lot of time helping them with their various frailties and ailments, I have a hard time imagining someone their age occupying one of the hardest, most high-pressure, most relentlessly demanding, most important offices in the world. I realize that their condition is not universal and Sanders (heart attack notwithstanding) seems to be in decent health, but it's just hard to wrap my head around. I also realize that it's morally unfair to write off someone based on a number alone, but this is the presidency. I'd hire a 79-year-old web developer at my company if he was a good candidate, but the president?

My other, and bigger, concern about Sanders is his embracing of the "socialist" label. He's not a socialist, not by either of my definitions -- he's not a member of the actual Socialist Party, nor does he favor government takeover of industry and commerce except in very specific areas of the economy -- so I'd prefer if he said he's not a socialist, so as to make it easier for those of us who must defend him to reject the inevitable and relentless accusations that he is. I don't know if Sanders or his supporters appreciate how truly poisonous that label is considered in much of America. It's radioactive, and will poison other Democrats too: If Sanders becomes the party's nominee, every Democratic politician for at least the rest of 2020 will be asked over and over again if they're also a socialist, and if not, will they renounce their socialist nominee for president? It's a massive liability and completely self-imposed by Sanders. This country might someday be ready for a democratic socialist leader, but right now it's a very long way off.

What do you think of Sanders's age or calling himself a socialist?

Samir Mehta | February 26, 2020
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Scott Hardie | March 3, 2020
I agree about Warren being penalized for being an intellectual. We have a long anti-intellectual streak in this country. We don't want experts or "elites" telling us what to do. When people finally feel fed up with Trump's nonsense and the country shifts leftward again, there might be a renewed appetite for intellectualism, but it will probably be too late then for a President Warren.

You might like this opinion, Samir: Elizabeth Warren is the Hermione Granger of Presidential Candidates.

I don't say this to criticize Trump, merely to observe: I have noticed the same forgetfulness and cloudiness from Trump that you mentioned, Samir. The "elements of medical" speech definitely seemed that way. We all have a slip of the tongue sometimes, but Trump has a manner of mixing up his words that implies genuine mental fog, as does Biden.


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