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In 2020, liberals have to be grownups

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This “split” in the Democratic Party, of which the current symbol is Howard Schultz, increasingly reminds me of the run-up to 2016. You’ll recall that that was about the “moderate-centrist,” Hillary Clinton, and the “progressive” Bernie Sanders, a divide that splintered Democratic and liberal voters, and essentially handed the election to Trump.

Hillary was painted by the far left as this hopelessly corrupt grifter, indebted to Wall Street, hawkishly inclined toward more wars, and secretly funneling money from the Clinton Foundation to her personal welfare. All that was nonsense, of course. The Clinton Foundation faux-scandal was an invention of Fox “News” and Breitbart. The ties to Wall Street do contain some reality, but what does that mean? “Wall Street” is an all-encompassing term for Big Money, and Hillary Clinton (and Bill too) certainly have always had ties to big money. But that doesn’t bother me. As the late, great California politician, Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh, once said, “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, screw their women and then vote against them, you’ve got no business being up here,” meaning in the top levels of government.

I subscribe to that sentiment 100%. It doesn’t bother me in the least if Hillary Clinton raked in beaucoup bucks from billionaire donors and corporate contributions. I’ve never seen any evidence to suggest she sold favors to them. As for the “hawkish warmonger” that some people still paint her to be, we have a legitimate debate in this country concerning when, how and if we use our power abroad. That debate is as old as the nation itself. I don’t like super-hawks, like the neocons, who seem ready to invade foreign countries at the drop of a hat, but neither do I like the extreme lefties who demand “peace” all the time, regardless of the circumstances. My study of American history, which is pretty extensive, tells me that America can’t avoid foreign entanglements. We just have to be very smart about which ones to get involved in, and how deeply. Hillary Clinton, it seems to me, took a very smart approach to these issues.

At any rate, here we go again. Schultz’s throwing his hat into the ring, potentially, has alarmed many Democrats, including me. (I tweeted him to let him know of my discontent.) The truest thing that can now be said about 2020 is that any third party candidate, as Schultz purports to be considering, will hurt the Democrat and help the Republican, who will probably be the incumbent Trump—if he’s still in office.

And then there’s Kamala Harris, already perceived as insufficiently progressive. What a steaming load of horse manure that charge is! We have a string on nextdoor.com here in Oakland about Kamala, and the anti-cop lefties are crawling out of the woodwork, attacking her for “throwing poor people of color into prison” because she’s a former District Attorney (San Francisco) and Attorney General (California). I live in an extremely leftwing city; Oakland was the home of Occupy, and anti-police graffiti and posters can be found everyday, urging that the Oakland Police Department be defunded, its cops thrown in jail, etc. etc. This kind of stupidity is not helpful to our society. Any fool should know that we need cops to protect us from the bad guys, of which there are many. To be anti-cop across the board is just lazy thinking. It wouldn’t be so bad to have lazy thinkers around except that such thinking isn’t just lazy, it’s dangerous.

That’s the split that seems to be emerging among Democrats. Most of us are saying a very clear, simple thing: We don’t care whom the candidate is, we want the person most capable of beating Trump, or Pence, or whomever else the Republican nominee is going to be. That is the uppermost, overriding strategic goal: to beat Trump. It was the same goal as in 2016, but too many Democrats and Independents chose to vote their resentment, instead of their common sense; and we got the catastrophe of Trump.

It’s certainly not too late to nip these separatist tendencies in the bud, but the longer we refrain from stopping it, the stronger the centrifugal forces will tend to rip the Democratic Party apart. That would be a historic disaster of the first magnitude: to lose to the Republican in 2020 will be unforgivable by the moral underwriters who write the history books.

Here are some people who, if they’re thinking of running for president in 2020, ought to decide against it: Howard Schultz, Bernie Sanders, and a woman I’d barely heard of before a few days ago, Tulsi Gabbard, a Representative from Hawaii (whose campaign is supposed to be in disarray). None of these individuals has the slightest chance of getting elected. All of them pose the clear and present danger of being spoilers who will siphon off just enough votes from the left to elect a Republican.

Liberals and Democrats should try hard to realize that politics is all about compromise. No voter gets 100% of what she wants in an elected leader. It’s dumb to be so stubbornly idealistic that you turn your back on pragmatism. We have a superb pack of potential and announced Democratic candidates. Surely we should all be able to agree on one of them, eventually, and equally surely, we must not harbor animosity or resentment if our preferred candidate doesn’t get the nomination. It’s called being a grownup.

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