Even though there are billions of dollars, countless ads and maybe even a few election-night nail biters to come, the next race for the White House essentially ended Aug. 25 in a small ballroom full of Democrats in Chicago.
Bowing to pressure from an increasingly young, unyielding progressive wing of the party emboldened by a handful of notable wins, the Democratic Party has voted to fundamentally change the way its nominee is chosen. Against the urging from senior leaders and household names, the party has elected to essentially do away with the clout of superdelegates, mostly elected officials, in the nominating process.
This decision has determined one crucial aspect of the next race: the Democratic nominee will be a progressive. And that all but assures President Donald Trump another four years at the helm, barring some judicial revelation.
Why should that matter, given Trump’s historically low poll numbers and a host of amateur-hour mistakes that would have spelled death for any other elected official? The same reason that Trump is an elected official in the first place.
After eight years of transformational change in this country, many found themselves in an America that looked fundamentally different than the one they’d known through multiple presidents before. Key sticking points that had long been tenets of many ideologies were now matters of settled law. As they saw their country moving from more traditional values to a more progressive state of affairs, they were more than ready to turn to a name synonymous with our national religion — success.
I, too, cast my vote at that altar and there’s been many a day since I’ve been surprised and dismayed by the attitudes our president has shown. But even as an institutionalist who so desperately wants a return to regular order, I’ll probably be voting for him again.
I may want to see a presidency where respect and good character are standard expectations, instead of rare moments of brevity. I may prefer a president who doesn’t impulsively sound off on Twitter when he’s had a hard day. I may want a president who not only doesn’t disdain the legislative process but who’s proven a master of it.
But more than I want any of those things, I don’t want a world of identity politics.
A Castro, a Harris, dare I say a Sanders would plunge the presidency into a leftist pursuit that would make the Trump presidency look tame. While there are Democrats out there I and millions of other centrist voters could consider voting for, a candidate like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s or even Joe Biden’s road to the nomination just got a whole lot tougher.
And while a candidate for good governance and regular order could’ve been just the ticket to confound my party in this new age of debacles, the Democratic Party has bought into the lie that if only they were left enough they could’ve pulled through.
While that should make the Republican in me smile, it’s actually making me cry.
Pragmatism and consensus building are the only path to viable solutions to our problems. But so long as our choices are between two persons who each have to pander to the farthest ends of the political spectrum, the days of American innovation and ideas that inspired the world may be few and far between.
This American isn’t looking for a Sen. Kamala Harris from the Democratic Party, he’s looking for the next Warren Christopher or Carol Moseley Braun. I am not looking for a Trump from the Republicans, but the next Jim Baker, Dick Lugar or Condoleeza Rice.
If we’re ever going to give Americans the solutions they deserve, we’re going to need a whole lot of both of them soon.
Derek Jorge Campbell of Hazard is an attorney, entrepreneur and lobbyist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org