More than 20 Democrats are running for president in 2020. Former Vice President Joe Biden is the latest to enter the ring. Crazy as it sounds, two white septuagenarians, Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, are leading in the latest polls for the nomination of the most diverse, big-tent political party in America. Go figure.
Nevertheless, the national media have not settled on their candidate yet. It’s still early. Democrats have a rich tradition of selecting presidential candidates based more on personality than policies. If that tradition holds true for 2020, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will likely win the Democratic nomination. Other than being white, Mayor Pete has all the characteristics Democrats cherish.
Buttigieg has been mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012. He’s a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, a Harvard graduate, and a Rhodes Scholar. But, his main claim to fame in progressive circles is being openly gay and married. He’s the cool guy in the Democratic race. No one else, so far, has as much potential to skyrocket to the nomination as Mayor Pete.
What about women contending for the Democratic nomination? No big deal. Been there, done that. What about candidates of color? That’s so 2008. Senator Obama was the cool guy back then. He was without any doubt the most popular candidate in the race, not only in the primaries but also in the election. The media loved him when he was running and continued loving him throughout his 8 years in office.
As the first president of color, he could do no wrong. Anyone who criticized him was automatically dismissed as a racist. He won the Nobel Peace Prize based on his potential before he had time to rearrange furniture in the oval office. Since leaving office he has bragged his administration had no scandals at all, at least none the media noticed.
Mayor Pete is young, enthusiastic, smart and classically trained. Media and pundits are already comparing him to Obama as well as the prince of presidents John F. Kennedy. In 1960 candidate Kennedy broke the Catholic ceiling barrier. It may be hard to believe today, but back then Americans as a whole were not likely to elect a Catholic as president. Obama broke the racial ceiling barrier and will always be remembered fondly for being our first black president.
Democrats are not the only party to nominate candidates based more on personality than on policies. Look back at Republican candidates in 2016. Who stood out the most? Who received the lion’s share of media attention? In fact, reviewing coverage of candidates in 2016, media favored Donald J. Trump many times over other contenders. No one ever doubted Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination. It was her turn! Media viewed a Trump-Clinton race as a ratings and entertainment bonanza.
Democrats are filling the starting gates for 2020, and who knows how many will run. With so many running, what will set whom apart from the pack? An establishment icon can’t generate enough enthusiasm among the activists. An old war-weary socialist can win empathy and sympathy, but not likely a majority of Democrats much less a majority of Americans. Only one candidate in the Democratic field is immune to criticism and cool enough to win. Pete Buttigieg will be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president.