Dear Bernie, Elizabeth, Joe, Pete, Amy, Mike, Tom, et al.,
The debates so far seem to have hinged on one basic question above all: “Who can beat Trump?” Not who has the best ideas, policies, or plans – not who has the best vision for the future – not who could best manage the transitions we have to make as a society – but just who can command enough votes in the right places to squeak through the Electoral College and get elected.
Let’s face it: as things stand now, not one of you could defeat Trump… as an individual, that is. He has too much cash, too many brainwashed followers, too many lackeys in important positions… and too much ability to use media to confuse, obfuscate and deceive. And each of you has weaknesses that Trump and his armies of pundits and commentators are just waiting to jump on, embellish, and blow out of proportion.
Together, though, all of you might have a chance… but only if you can campaign as a team… and get your various followers to do the same.
At this point, it doesn’t matter all that much who is at the “head” of this team. Any of you could competently fill that role. But it can’t be about just you. All factions of the Democratic Party – progressives, socialists, centrists, and corporatists alike – have to come together and find a way, not to show some false “unity,” not to paper over very real differences, not to squelch dissent, but rather find a way to leverage your vaunted diversity and use it as a real STRENGTH. Otherwise, the Trump propaganda machine will find it way too easy to set us all at each other’s throats. It’s doing so already, in fact. The time has come to abandon the “rugged individualist” idea that some single magical individual can somehow be sufficient to save us. That kind of thinking, after all, is what brought us Trump.
The primary process, as laid out before us, could be destructive and divisive. It could waste precious resources and cause widespread damage, if you just tear each other down in the hope of coming out on top at the end. Instead, you could be using this time, energy, and money to determine policies and approaches that will counter Trump’s appeal, use and develop the strengths that each of you have, and come out at the end with not just one bruised and limping survivor, but with an entire Cabinet’s worth of competent and inspiring individuals, committed to working together for the betterment of the country.
To do otherwise is to risk alienating and disenfranchising one group or another, when we will need all hands on deck to counter Trumpism’s threat to our democracy. Can you together craft a campaign that truly includes everyone “from billionaires to baristas”? That addresses the needs of financiers and families? Doctors and dockworkers?
Not an easy task, I’m sure. But if you can’t accomplish this within your own party, how will you keep America from tearing itself apart?