The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion All these wannabe Democratic nominees are wasting everybody’s time

Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Celebration on June 9.
Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Celebration on June 9. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
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The chance that Democratic Party convention delegates assembled in July 2020 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee will choose as their nominee for president of the United States a gentleman from the great nonstate of the District of Columbia named Colbert Isaiah King is zero.

Of course, there is a reasonable degree of certainty that the same fate awaits Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Michael F. Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang.

The difference between them and moi, however, is that I am not going to waste time, money or any thought whatsoever over that foregone conclusion.

Those wannabe Democratic nominees, on the other hand, are going to fritter away energy next week in Miami in what are billed as the first Democratic presidential primary debates. In fact, the debates are little more than a cattle call in which contestants try mightily to stand out from the herd. Good luck with that.

The California State Democratic Convention played host to a sprawling field of 2020 presidential candidates on June 2. (Video: REF:kohj/The Washington Post)

The sheer volume of noncompetitive competitors is a distraction that Democrats can ill afford, given the enormity of the disaster at hand. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than getting that mean-spirited, embarrassingly gauche, wishy-washy blowhard out of the White House.

All of the Democratic fuming about staging a political revolution, shaking up the power structure, fighting the fossil fuel industry, taking down Wall Street, busting noses of the corporate elite, launching ground assaults on power and wealth-transforming the country — all that should be given over to building a well-planned and well-staffed presidential campaign apparatus that can support the candidate best able to do something about what’s happening now.

Our country is in a bad way. Election Day 2020 warrants a single-minded focus.

This is no time for Democrats to humor the ambition of newbies seeking to enter the big time or to pamper grizzled veterans out for a last hurrah. Better that de Blasio, Gabbard, et al. plow what little they have mustered in money and volunteers into organizing, fundraising and mobilizing voters in battleground states where the presidency will be won or lost.

The campaign should concentrate on rescuing and restoring what President Trump has tried to trample in the space of two years.

He has wittingly and maliciously debased democratic institutions, inflamed anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim animus, given comfort to enemies of people of color, detached the United States from its allies and wrapped tyrants in his warm embrace.

Along the way, he dashed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) rules, thus removing protection for nearly 800,000 people from deportation; banned transgender troops from serving in the military; quit the Paris climate accord; withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal binding the United States and Pacific Rim countries; and expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

He torched the route toward rapprochement with Iran, undermined a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians and sold out the United States to the murderous Saudi regime.

If that weren’t enough, Trump devalued diversity and inclusion, choosing to rescind Obama administration documents intended to give schools guidance on adopting affirmative action programs.

And just this week, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency declared open season on the environment by rolling back climate policy to allow the power sector to cut carbon emission levels by less than half of what experts calculate is needed to avert catastrophic global warming.

Democrats simply don’t have the luxury of engaging in months of intramural infighting that ends up trashing those most electable against Trump. The last thing they need is a battered nominee limping into the general election.

Because the 2020 election is not about contending views of the United States’ future. It’s about removing that scourge in the White House — and it will be no easy feat.

In truth, well-justified critics’ disgust with Trump and passion to run him out of town are matched by his supporters’ devotion and their desire to keep him right where he is.

To them, Trump is more than a chief executive. He is all that stands between them and unpatriotic, anti-Christian and anti-white forces that are trying to take over the country.

They fervently believe Trump knows and understands them — their values, their unspoken yearnings and fears. Trump is the best White House occupant they’ll ever get. Thus, he is theirs (so they think); they are his. And they number in the tens of millions. They are not the majority — but they weren’t the majority in 2016, and the cocky and complacent Democrats blew it anyway.

All of that promises the upcoming presidential campaign will be the fiercest battle for the White House in modern American history. Trump and his forces will be working to bring Democrats to their knees, because the egomaniacal bully likes to crush and humiliate people more than he likes doing the job of president.

This is no time for start-ups. A party that spends time, money and energy enabling Don Quixote primary campaigns fueled by delusions of grandeur is stupid.

Democratic convention delegates face deadly serious business next summer. Party leaders organizing and directing the primary season should act like it.

Read more from Colbert King’s archive.

Read more:

Eugene Robinson: We don’t need 23 presidential candidates. There’s another important role to fill.

Richard Cohen: Who are all these Democratic presidential candidates?

George F. Will: How the Democratic field is winnowing itself

Paul Waldman: The 2020 Democrats will debate soon. Here’s why it will be awful.

Ronald A. Klain: A crowded road to 2020 will yield the best Democrat

Hugh Hewitt: Democrats, don’t turn the 2020 debates into traffic jams