Democratic Race Stable as Ten Candidates Qualify for Debate

New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, former housing secretary Julián Castro, New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren participate in a Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida, June 26, 2019
New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, former housing secretary Julián Castro, New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren participate in a Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida, June 26, 2019 (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Ten candidates have qualified for the third Democratic presidential debate, to be held in two weeks’ time, putting pressure on the low-polling candidates to drop out.

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who failed to qualify, ended her campaign on Wednesday, joining John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Seth Moulton and Eric Swalwell.

Michael Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, Tom Steyer and Marianne Williamson remain in the race, although they have little support.

The ten candidates who qualified are: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

Of those, Biden is the clear frontrunner while Sanders and Warren share second place in the polls. Read more “Democratic Race Stable as Ten Candidates Qualify for Debate”

Democrats Back Away from Abolishing Private Health Insurance

Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017
Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017 (Office of Senator Kamala Harris)

Good news: Democratic presidential candidates are coming to their senses on health care.

Senators Cory Booker, Kirstin Gillibrand and Kamala Harris have all backed away from abolishing private health insurance in favor of Medicare-for-all.

Even Senator Elizabeth Warren has given herself wiggle room, saying “there are a lot of different pathways” to achieving universal coverage.

The exception is Bernie Sanders, the author of Medicare-for-all and a self-declared democratic socialist. Read more “Democrats Back Away from Abolishing Private Health Insurance”

Down in the Polls, Sanders Echoes Trump on Media Bias

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 9, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 9, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

First, Bernie Sanders suggested the Democratic Party teamed up on him in 2016 to deny him the presidential nomination. (Of a party of which he is not even a member.)

Now he is suggesting The Washington Post is giving him negative coverage because he has been critical of its owner, Jeff Bezos.

America already has one party that regularly calls the legitimacy of institutions like universities, the FBI and NATO into doubt. It doesn’t need Democrats to do the same. Read more “Down in the Polls, Sanders Echoes Trump on Media Bias”

Democrats Are Not Talking to Swing Voters

New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, former housing secretary Julián Castro, New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren participate in a Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida, June 26
New York mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, former housing secretary Julián Castro, New Jersey senator Cory Booker and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren participate in a Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Florida, June 26 (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

Imagine you’re an American swing voter and you listened Tuesday and Wednesday night to the twenty Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination. What did you hear?

  • Three of the four highest-polling candidates want to abolish private health insurance and replace it with a single government program.
  • Virtually all candidates would decriminalize illegal entry into the United States and all of them praised immigration.
  • Many would give free health care to undocumented immigrants.
  • Some, like Bernie Sanders, would even give them a free college education.

This is not a winning program. Read more “Democrats Are Not Talking to Swing Voters”

Elizabeth Warren May Be the Strongest Democratic Candidate

Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 27
Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts speaks at a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 27 (Gage Skidmore)

If 2016 taught me anything, it is not to make predictions. I don’t know who is going to win the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States, so take what follows with a grain of salt — and remember that we’re still more than half a year out from the Iowa caucuses, which will kick off the official nominating process in February. A lot can (and almost certainly will) change.

Former vice president Joe Biden is ahead. He places first in the national polls and the early voting state polls. He is also first in the endorsement primary, which measures support from elected officials. For Democrats pining for a restoration of the Obama era, Biden is the obvious choice.

I would put California senator Kamala Harris in second place. She is second in the endorsement primary and shares second place in national polls with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. She made a strong impression in the first debate, but she has flipflopped twice on whether or not she wants to abolish private health insurance. This is not a trivial issue. Her vagueness on what many Americans rank as their top concern (health care) is worrying.

Sanders is probably in third place, but I don’t think he has a lot of potential for growth. I’m biased, though. I don’t like Sanders’ style. Whenever he is pushed for detail, he argues that a “political revolution” will make his far-reaching policy proposals somehow feasible. I prefer plans over slogans.

If I had to bet right now, I would put my money on Warren. Read more “Elizabeth Warren May Be the Strongest Democratic Candidate”

Democrats Are Closer to the Center Than Republicans

Street view in San Francisco, California, April 7, 2010
Street view in San Francisco, California, April 7, 2010 (Jerome Vial)

In a recent column, I argued Democrats in the United States have moved to the left but Republicans have moved farther to the right. The former, at least in their policies, are still more centrist than most center-left parties in Europe while the latter now have more in common with far-right populists than they do with Britain’s Conservative Party and Germany’s Christian Democrats.

Centrists (myself included) still worry that Democrats might become too left-wing for voters in the middle — who, the turnout fantasies of partisans on either side notwithstanding, tend to decide the outcome of national elections. Read more “Democrats Are Closer to the Center Than Republicans”

Abolishing Private Health Insurance Is Bad Policy for Democrats

Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017
Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California listens to voters during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, April 21, 2017 (Office of Senator Kamala Harris)

Four of the Democrats running for their party’s presidential nomination committed to replacing private health insurance with a government-run system in debates this week: Senators Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York.

Harris later maintained she had misheard the question and supports Medicare-for-all with supplemental private insurance.

She, as well as Sanders and Warren, stand a real chance of becoming the nominee (de Blasio is a long shot), so it’s worth pointing out why abolishing private health insurance is such bad policy for Democrats. Read more “Abolishing Private Health Insurance Is Bad Policy for Democrats”

Democrats Don’t Have a Good Answer to the Mitch McConnell Question

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell speaks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, December 3, 2014
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell speaks with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, December 3, 2014 (White House/Pete Souza)

Democrats don’t have a good answer to what Ezra Klein calls the “Mitch McConnell question”.

The Republican leader is likely to retain his majority, or at least a blocking minority, in the United States Senate next year. Then what will come of the Democrats’ plans?

In two debates on Wednesday and Thursday night, none of the party’s twenty presidential hopefuls had a good answer. Read more “Democrats Don’t Have a Good Answer to the Mitch McConnell Question”

Sanders Should Stop Undermining Trust in the Democratic Party

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Brooklyn, New York, April 8, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Brooklyn, New York, April 8, 2016 (Timothy Krause)

Bernie Sanders is at it again, alleging that the 2016 Democratic primary was “rigged” against him.

It wasn’t, and Sanders should stop saying so. At a time when Donald Trump is calling the legitimacy of academia, science, the news media, the FBI, NATO and other multilateral organizations into question, the last thing the left needs to do is undermine trust in more institutions. Read more “Sanders Should Stop Undermining Trust in the Democratic Party”

Don’t Be Too Hard on Politicians Who Change Their Mind

American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)

Don’t be too hard on Joe Biden for changing his mind on federal funding for abortion.

The former American vice president, who is the top candidate for his Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, has a reasonable argument to make. He previously opposed federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest and where the mother’s life was in the danger. “But circumstances have changed,” he told supporters on Thursday.

Republicans have been working overtime to restrict access to abortion in the states they control. The most egregious example is Alabama, which recently outlawed abortion after five or six weeks of pregnancy. Few women even realize they’re pregnant at that stage. Georgia, where Biden spoke, could see a similar law come into effect next year.

“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need,” Biden said. Read more “Don’t Be Too Hard on Politicians Who Change Their Mind”