With the pool of 22 Democratic candidates to choose from, here are the ones I like. None is perfect, but I would be happy enough if any of the following four got the nomination.
1. Tulsi Gabbard. My favorite candidate so far. Her economic policies are progressive enough to pull us out of the neoliberal funk that’s been plaguing the Dems and keeping the lower classes shafted and the middle class forgotten. She’s superb on foreign policy, denouncing the necons and the neolibs impartially, and insisting on minimal military engagements abroad. She’s one of the few who gets Islam right and doesn’t hesitate to speak honestly about the problem. Unlike Bush and Obama, she won’t pander to leftist fears of “Islamophobia” while carrying on useless wars abroad; unlike Bernie Sanders, she won’t support pernicious left-wing Islamist activists like Linda Sarsour. She actively opposes radical Islam, and has denounced the hawkish regimes of Bush and Obama who toppled dictators (Hussein, Gaddafi, Sisi, Assad) which only paved the way for greater evils (ISIS-jihadists and sharia-enamored Islamists). (She describes herself as a hawk only when it comes to actual terrorism, and as a dove on everything else.) Her record on all the main issues is commendable. She supports the legalization of pot, universal health care, making community colleges free and other colleges more affordable. She’s pretty much my candidate all around.
2. Jay Inslee. It’s hard not to like him since he makes the number one problem his number one priority. If we don’t solve climate change, nothing else matters. He runs the danger of being a Johnny one-note, but if there’s any issue to be single-note about, it’s climate change. His record on other policies looks trustworthy in any case.
3. Elizabeth Warren. My third choice would actually be Bernie Sanders, except that Bernie is getting long in the tooth. Warren is cut from the same cloth, and she has most of her priorities straight: investing in education and research, reducing income inequality, helping unions, improving health care, etc.
4. Pete Buttigieg. He’s a bit vague on how he’d implement policies, but he has a lot of the right ideas, and clearly wants to help the causes of education and transportation infrastructure to provide more opportunities. On a few issues he’s actually better than Warren and Sanders, for instance, against their free college proposals (which I take to be misguided), Buttigieg proposes more affordable college tuition, like Gabbard does. I have the feeling this guy could be my #2 or 3 choice if here were more concrete and detailed about his proposals.
Bernie Sanders and Mike Gravel. I like them a lot, but when you get over 85 you should probably retire.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand. We don’t need neoliberal placeholders or shape-shifting Wall-Street buddies. It would be a repeat of the Obama era — more useless and costly military intervention abroad, more misguided economic policies, all of which will likely result in another Trump-equivalent down the line.
Unfortunately, I think Joe Biden is going to get the nomination. And we’ll be right back to the same dismal choice we had in the 2016 election.