A recent piece by The Chronicle's independent editorial board attempts to navigate the crowded field of 2020 Democratic candidates in a wandering diatribe that feels more bitter towards Democratic voters interested in securing victories than substantive in insights. In an editorial that somehow simultaneously decries the Democratic field’s “problems in forging an articulable, unified approach to ‘beating’ the ideals of Trumpism” and “lack of unique platforms,” the board criticizes the growing push on the left to nominate a candidate who is either “electable” enough or centrist enough to beat Trump in the general election. To hear them tell it, Democratic voters are “already hostage to the #VoteBlue mindset,” and eager to sacrifice policy for “bland, photo-shopped celebrities who enjoy smoking weed and playing punk rock.”
Indeed, Democratic voters are increasingly prioritizing “electability” in 2020 candidates, but seeking candidates that are marketable to a broad voter base absolutely does not preclude the party from choosing someone with robust policy goals; the positions espoused by Andrew Yang or Kamala Harris are each more comprehensive and complete than anything pushed by the Trump campaign in 2016, but which the editorial board seems content to summarize as “cool.”
Second, and perhaps most importantly, allowing the party to drift toward the center in order to bring an end to the Trump administration is simply more productive in advancing progressive goals than running yet another losing campaign based on policy. Perhaps the board would like to weigh in on the 2016 GOP primary, wherein the party nominated a “very stable genius” with a “secret plan to destroy ISIS in 30 days” who subsequently won the presidency and secured a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future? Now, the prior success of gross provocateurs in the vein of Trump certainly need not push the Democratic party to settle for the lowest common denominator, but to insinuate that placing a premium on “electability” and seeing the value in celebrity isn’t a productive electoral strategy is plainly ignorant of recent history and not a pragmatic approach to seeking change. If these broad and meaningless platitudes are truly the insights of the politically engaged, then we can all look forward to a weekly scolding from the board’s “ardent politicos.”
Quinn Edwards, P '22
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