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All the 2020 Democratic Candidates Are Problematic! (OK, Most of Them Are)

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 24, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 24, 2019 |


Each time someone throws their hat in the ring for the 2020 Democratic primary, the media spends about an hour talking up the candidate’s chances and about a week talking about all of his or her problems as a candidate. This is not necessarily a bad thing: Over the course of the next year and a half, these things are going to come out. I think it’s probably best just to rip the band-aid off and see where the dust settles.

Like I’ve said before, though, I really and truly have no idea who I will ultimately end up voting for, and I don’t really know the allegiances of the rest of the staff, either (and when we write about politics, the writers of this site are absolutely not going to agree on a candidate — the same was true in 2016. It may have felt like we were all firmly #TeamHillary in the primaries, but that was far from the reality). We are not a monolith — you’re probably going to get a lot of different perspectives, although, behind the scenes, we are very respectful of each others’ political opinions, so long as they do not in any way align with that of Donald Trump. There are a few issues that are more contentious than others — and I’m already beginning to see where fractures are opening up within our own ranks — but we are madly respectful of one another, because I think we understand that our politics comes from a well-intentioned place.

In any respect, the point of this post, really, is to do a cursory glance at the problems that each of the major candidates will be facing, not to tear the candidates down, but to illustrate that there is no perfect candidate. They all have flaws, of some sort to some segment of the party. In fact, knowing our political environment, these candidates are likely to be defined more by their problem issues than their political positions. Many choices will ultimately be made by a process of elimination.

Joe Biden: Too centrist; too old; prone to gaffes; rumors of being handsy; the Anita Hill hearings, and a long history of failed Presidential bids.

Bernie Sanders: Too old; too progressive; cannot connect with voters of color (or a lot of women); can be alienating; pro-gun; he missed his moment; and the Bernie Bros.

Kamala Harris: Former prosecutor with a history of cases that can be used against her; SESTA and FOSTA; very pro-Israel; problematic positions on crime; Willie Brown; and believe it or not, I’ve seen a number of white people and black people on social media suggest that Harris “only uses her blackness when it suits her,” which is messed up.

Elizabeth Warren: The DNA test; too progressive; loathed by the right; hasn’t been able to connect with black voters; and her age.

Kirsten Gillibrand — A history of more moderate/conservative positions on guns and immigration from her days in the House; the Al Franken “problem,” and a history of accepting PAC money from dubious entities.

Beto O’Rourke — Too young and inexperienced; couldn’t beat Ted Cruz; something of a loner within the Democratic Party; a somewhat concerning voting history in the House.

Tulsi Gabbard — An unsavory past of anti-LGBTQ comments and opposition to abortion; little national exposure; somewhat conservative views on foreign policy (like that of Obama), and enough anti-Islamic positions in her past to briefly be considered for a position in the Trump White House.

Julian Castro — Honestly, no red flags. He lacks experience and his resume is thin, he has little national exposure, little foreign policy experience, and he’s been overshadowed by Beto in Texas, and that’s about it.

Michael Bloomberg — Give me a break. I don’t have all day here.

Sherrod Brown — Another guy with no big red flags. He’s not particularly well known outside of Ohio; he’s not a particularly exciting candidate, either, and being a middle-aged white dude from Ohio could both help and hurt him.

Cory Booker — A lot of campaign contributions from Wall Street; he confessed (and apologized) to groping a woman in college; and maybe some inauthenticity issues?

Pete Buttigieg — Too young (37); little-to-no experience or national exposure; a long-shot bid that may not get much attention (but policy-wise, no apparent red flags).

Amy Klobuchar — I’m sorry. I got nothing. Little name recognition?