A Clarion Call for The Just Right Candidate


Give Us Youth, Please –and Experience

Anyone Else Want to Run, or is About 20 Candidates Enough?

We are now into double digits for declared Democratic candidates for president. At least as many may yet make the run. The count could well surpass the 17 that the Republicans fielded last time. You might recall how well that went for everyone.

All things considered, it is natural that so large a group is signing up to be our next leader. To a degree, this is a healthy thing. It is a time to expand our vision and to consider a wide range of options about policies and candidates. But not for too long, please.

About Those Debates

In an earlier post, I expressed the hope that the Democrats would not start debates too soon. I also opined that they should avoid a crowd on stage when they do debate. They wisely ignored my advice. Given the size of the likely field, they are wise to start thinning the crowd sooner rather than later. Debates begin in June. I expect a couple of debate rounds will support that goal of thinning the candidate ranks.

Another thing they are doing that is smart is avoiding the Republican two-tier debates. In that formula, one debate was the leading candidates (a tortured term, to be sure) and a second round for the also rans and wanna-be candidates (ouch!).

The Democrats do plan two-debate sets. The difference is that they will mix up the candidates rather than tier them prematurely. Good for them. Will people actually watch two nights in a row? I suspect many will, especially if there is a candidate or two in each debate that interests them.

One thing I would like to see is moving away from these debates as fast as possible. Move to town hall meetings. Also do a few in-depth discussions with 2-3 candidates and a good moderator. Both of these formats have proven more revealing than the debate approach.

Whom Should We Choose?

I admit I already have my A List and B List candidates. But it’s early yet, so let’s all keep our powder dry for now. I likely could support almost anyone on the list who came out on top after the primary season contests.

Having said that, there is a case for two essential, if somewhat contradictory, criteria for the ideal candidate.

A New Generation is Ready to Step Up

First, let’s invest in youth. It is difficult to make the case that your party is the voice of tomorrow when so many candidates qualified for social security almost a decade ago. There are some great senior candidates in the pack, but it is time to let the next generation step up.

That criteria is not kind to Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders. Great Americans all, these three. I like a lot about all three of them, especially Senator Warren, but I would prefer to let the next generation step up. It’s the right time.

But No Amateurs, Please

But second, I want to see some hands-on experience running complex organizations. Governance is a tough enterprise, and so is politics. That someone has been successful in other fields or in one slice of politics qualifies them as president is doubtful. There are exceptions. That junior senator from Illinois (Obama, I think his name was) stepped right in and did pretty darn well.

I would not want to stretch our luck in gambling that the next winner could just figure it out along the way. With that perspective, Biden and Warren  (credit for the Consumer Credit Protection Agency) look good again. Sanders not so much. Booker, Castro, Harris, Holder, Hickenlooper, Patrick all bring impressive credentials. Garcetti, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Steyer, Oprah (really??) are lacking in this important area.

Let the Games Begin

So, there you have my initial screens. Let’s see who is still standing and what the lineup looks like by mid-Summer. And I reiterate, that while I have noted areas where I think candidates fall short, none are off the table in my book. What are your thoughts? Set aside specific candidates at this point (or not). What qualities and qualifications count most to you?

I have not talked about the Republicans here, for obvious reasons. I expect Trump will get some challenges, if he is still in position to run. But the prospects of much of a contest seems much smaller if an incumbent runs, even this one, amazingly.

It’s going to be a heck of an election season. Only 20 more months of this to go….

   Bill Clontz

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7 replies to A Clarion Call for The Just Right Candidate

  1. He hasn’t announced his candidacy yet, but if he does what about him?

    • Howard Schultz. His name might have been omitted in my reply due to my technical error.

      • There you go. We were wondering who you were thinking about. Personally, I think he peaked as a CEO. Not a fan of what I see of him as a candidate so far, but it’s early yet.

        • My daughter worked for Starbucks and said when he stepped down as CEO things went downhill some, not entirely . She’s since left company, but when she was employed there she had very good and affordable health insurance and other great benefits including stock. I’ve seen him on interviews and I’m impressed favorably.

  2. Difficult to find experience and youth in the same package. I like the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, but a friend living in Washington is looking for someone younger, even though they like Inslee. We are going to need an experienced and competent next president to regain respect from the rest of the civilized world and earn our way back into the community. A young VP might be a good addition so they are ready eight years later to run for President.

    • It’s true, I have heard good things about Inslee. I see Sanders ignored my advice on the day I published it. I will try not to take this personally….

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