The 2020 Democratic Primary: For the Record

A few people have asked me (and a few more have been trying to not so subtly figure out, lol) whether I support a specific candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary. The answer is no.

At some point, I may get firmly behind one candidate, and, if I do, I'll let you know. However, at the moment, I am eager to learn more about (most of) the candidates, read their policy proposals as they disclose them, watch how they navigate primary contests, see how they perform in debates, follow how they respond to inevitable mistakes, listen to their advocates and critics, and so forth.

As I noted last time around, a lot goes into how I assess presidential candidates:
I look at campaign staff, its diversity and its structure and its efficacy and its decency. I look at how candidates respond to crisis and criticism. I look at voter outreach efforts, especially to marginalized populations, where voters are disproportionately likely to be disenfranchised. I look at the precise language used to discuss issues of concern to me. I look at candidates' debating style, and how diplomatic they tend to be during debates and interviews. I look at their negotiating skills. I look at their preparedness and flexibility and versatility. I look at how capable they seem of being able to pivot, when they are proven wrong. I look at their willingness to be accountable for mistakes and fuck-ups and endorsements of shitty policy. I look at the quality of their apologies, and whether they are willing to apologize at all. I look at how much they value transparency.

This is not a complete list, but you get the picture. In addition to policy, I am keen to assess the attributes that I want to see in a president. I want a president who is competent, effective, unflappable, adaptable, accountable. Who knows when to stand their ground and when to compromise. Who understands that diplomacy and negotiation are huge parts of the president's job, and who is a solid diplomat and negotiator.

And I look for examples, on the campaign trail, of how a candidate might respond to something if they were president.
We're far too early in the primary for most of that, so it'll likely be a very long time before I endorse a candidate, if I endorse anyone at all.

Also, unlike previous elections, I have no existing relationships with anyone currently working on any of the campaigns. And, so far, none of the campaigns have reached out to me (it's too early for that). I'm just an observer, waiting to see what unfolds.

Right now, it's far easier to identify the candidates I don't like.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Bernie Sanders, for a whole lot of reasons, chief among them that I don't believe he would make a good president. He has neither the temperament nor the diplomacy nor the respect for marginalized people's individual needs to successfully govern a diverse and divided nation in this moment.

I also don't like Tulsi Gabbard, and, to be perfectly frank, I'm going to ignore her candidacy completely unless she does something that obliges me to acknowledge it.

Otherwise, you can expect that I'll be enthusiastic about and critical of each Democratic candidate through the primary.

You can also expect that I'll be defending this diverse field of candidates against misogyny, racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, as required by bigots. During past elections, my defending a candidate against bigotry and dogwhistles has often been misconstrued as endorsing them. Defense is not an endorsement.

Nothing but an endorsement is an endorsement. I have always been eminently willing to be forthright about my preferences in candidates, so there's no need to guess or make assumptions about my favorites. I'll be transparent about who I support, just as I am transparent about who I don't support.

So that's about the shape of things, fully one billion years before the next election, during which I will be doing everything I can to ensure the defeat of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or whatever loathsome specimen the Republicans field at the top of their ticket.

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