­“Elections determine who is in power, but they do not determine how power is used.”

Paul Collier

With the third Democratic debate now history and the first primaries less than six months away, the unmanageable and unrealistically large field of twenty-four announced candidates was narrowed to ten, a number likely increase with the addition of Tom Steyer who appears to have met the October debate criteria.

After watching the first three debates among Democratic presidential wannabees and reflecting on a number of respected national polls many, perhaps most Americans generally agree:

  • Access to quality health care should not depend on one’s financial circumstances;
  • Universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers should be mandatory and do not violate the Second Amendment;
  • The climate is warming and greenhouse-creating emissions are partially responsible and must be reduced;
  • Our immigration laws need to be updated and there should be a path for legal status if not citizenship for DACA immigrants;
  • Foreign interference in our elections must be stopped; and
  • A college degree should not leave graduating seniors with a six-figure debt.

To appease and appeal to the activists and progressives in their party, most of the candidates, and Senators Sanders and Warren in particular, have taken such liberal aspirations to near radical extremes such as:

  • Mandating the eliminating all private health insurance;
  • Canceling student debt and providing free college tuition for all;
  • Endorsing the unrealistic timetable of so-called Green Deal;
  • Dismantling the INS;
  • Making reparation payments to descendants of former slaves; and
  • Former Congressman O’Rourke’s calling for confiscation of certain types of assault weapons.

as part of a costly “free everything for everyone” social reengineering of our society.

Many of those programs will be non-starters for voters who abandoned the Democrats and their candidate in 2016 by voting for Trump as the perceived lesser of two evils compared to Hillary, voted for a third party candidate or simply stayed home on election day … a constituency they must win over if they are to retake the White House in 2020.

Meanwhile, many of these proposal play neatly into the President’s fearmongering rhetoric about the Democrats wanting to transform America into a socialist society overrun with illegal immigrants. 

On the economy, the President’s major talking point, Democrats have been noticeably silent; as they have been on the specifics of how they would realistically pay for their expensive programs or, if elected, how they would implement such plans, most of which would require Congressional approval … as even if they retain the House and retake control of the Senate there is no guarantee their legislative agenda would be passed.

Then there is the “elephant in the room” issue, if Donald Trump is re-elected he would likely have an opportunity to make one, if not two, additional Supreme Court appointments presently held by “liberals”.

All of the candidates boldly announce, “I can take on and beat Donald Trump!” 

To do so, they must demonstrate the presence, confidence, composure, calm but firm tone when speaking and perceived honesty which Americans once expected from its presidents. 

The Democratic nominee will also need to possess the debating skills to articulate an easily understood vision for America and Americans while successfully deflecting Donald Trump’s predictable attempts to demean his opponent while deliberately distorting their positions on the issues, taking their statements out of context and employing misstatements, invented and alternative facts, fake news and lies to make his points.

As Democrats, and particularly progressives, sort out whom to support financially and with their primary votes, they face a major conundrum … whether ideological purity or pragmatic electability is more important.  They need to very carefully weigh their desire to support a candidate who perhaps mirrors their utopian vision for a future America or one who can successfully debate and defeat the president.

Nominating an overly liberal progressive runs a real and serious risk of losing the votes of centrist and conservative Democrats, disillusioned Republicans, Independents and other voters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the party’s 2016 nominee …and possibly handing Donald Trump another four years to continue to isolate our country, bankrupt our government and dismantle our constitution, environment and social fabric.