How to Select a Democrat to Beat Trump in 2020Roundup
tags: politics, Democrats, 2020 Election
Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University a Contributing Editor of HNN. For a list of his recent books and online publications, including those on Russia, click here. His most recent book is In the Face of Fear: Laughing All the Way to Wisdom (2019), which treats humor from a historical perspective.
To begin, a few preliminaries. The criteria that follow are tentative and primarily an attempt to clarify my own thinking. If they are helpful to others, great. If not, no harm done. And for a variety of reasons, I will probably wait until the Democratic primary in Michigan (March 2020) to back a candidate.
Note that this means I will vote for a Democrat and support one in November 2020. No Third Party candidate for me. We need someone who has a good chance of beating Trump—and yes that will affect which candidate I choose to back. If I like a certain Democrat who appeals to very few other voters, I will instead back one who I also think is good, but much more electable.
The various Democratic candidates reflect a wide spectrum regarding age, gender, and race. These differences matter and will affect my choice, but less so than the major qualifications listed below. The candidates stances on various issues are also important, but exactly what they have said on them—even on climate change, which I consider the world’s most significant problem—matters less to me than my assessment of their overall character.
First of all, I want someone who seems likely to be a wise president. In March 2012 my “What is True Political Wisdom? A Primer for the 2012 Election” appeared on this site, itself a condensed version of a much-longer essay. In these articles I spelled out that the goal of politics should be enhancing the common good by exercising political wisdom. . The virtues needed to demonstrate such wisdom include the proper mix of realism and idealism, optimism, respect for truth, compassion, empathy, humility, tolerance and a willingness to compromise, a sense of humor, creativity, temperance, self-discipline, passion, and courage. Prudence is also necessary in order to properly balance, prioritize, and fit together these virtues and values in any particular situation so as to achieve the greatest good. Since actions are necessary for this achievement, skills as well as virtues are also required. For a president, for example, being an effective communicator and a good judge of people so as to select effective cabinet and staff members are important skills to possess.
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