Is It Really Time to Say Sherrod Brown Should Be President

Is It Really Time to Say Sherrod Brown Should Be PresidentI have been really annoyed listening to people talk about who the Democrats should nominate for president. It’s been made all the more annoying listening to The Villagers gush about Joe Biden. That’s nothing against him. I like him. He’s a great retail politician. I loved watching him beat the crap out of Paul Ryan during the 2012 Vice-Presidential Debate. But who cares? He’s run for president twice and lost both times. Democrats like him but they don’t want him as their presidential candidate. He’s polling high because people know his name. That’s it. If he runs, he will again embarrass himself.

For months, my choices have been Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Sherrod Brown. But I’ve evolved on the issue.

Elizabeth Warren

Even though I defended Warren on her Native American heritage business, there’s no doubt that she handled it poorly. Ultimately, I think that Donald Trump — the trust-fund baby with half a brain — managed to out-maneuver her.

But don’t get me wrong: the Democrats can run a little yellow dog. It doesn’t matter. If the economy is tanking in 2020, that little yellow dog with a (D) after its name will win. And the Democrats could nominate the second coming of Jesus Christ and if he had a (D) after his name, he’d go down in flames (Haha!) if the economy has a minor recession next year and comes roaring back in 2020.

But I just don’t think that Warren is going to make a great president. I fear it will be too much like Obama’s presidency where her naivete will hurt the country. (This is in an “opportunity cost” way: she won’t get as much good work done as she could have.)

Of course, if she is the nominee, I will proudly vote for her.

Bernie Sanders

And then we come to my choice in 2016: Bernie Sanders. I still like him — a lot. But there are things about him that do bother me. But rather than go my own way, I think I will address Mehdi Hasan’s article, Critics Say Bernie Sanders Is Too Old, Too White, and Too Socialist to Run for President in 2020. They’re Wrong. He counters five arguments against Sanders, so let’s go through them.

He’s Behind in the Polls

I’ve already addressed this to some extent. Hasan is right: Biden is beating Sanders in the polls. And this has all the relevance as the fact that my truck needs an oil change. We are one month short of two years from the 2020 presidential election. We are over a year from when the primaries even start. As Hasan noted: at this time in 2014, Jeb Bush was not just the front-runner in the Republican primary, he was the front-runner by double-digits! Fun fact: Jeb Bush suspended his presidential run after South Carolina — the third primary contest!

He’s Too White

On this issue, I don’t think that Hasan did a very good job. He noted two things. First, a number of high-profile African Americans supported him. Second, Sanders has done a lot of outreach to the African American community. I can counter both of these. Sanders didn’t get very many high-profile endorsements and he’s continued to make racially insensitive errors.

A much better argument is just to note that Clinton did poorly with blacks in 2008 and great with them in 2016. If Sanders does manage to have a lot of support in the 2020 primary, I expect him to do much better with the African American community.

So even though I don’t find Hasan’s arguments persuasive, I agree with him. Bernie is not “too white.”

He’s Too Old

This is probably my biggest problem with Sanders. Hasan notes that Nancy Pelosi is older than Sanders. Yes, but not as old as when he runs for president and not nearly as old as when he finishes his first tern. He notes that Biden is almost as old as him. But who cares? I could be wrong, but Biden doesn’t even exist in my political universe.

Hasan also mentions that Warren will be 71. And that gets to my main point: brain function. Adult brain function doesn’t normally change that much over time — until the mid-70s. So I’m not really concerned about Warren. She would be 79 at the end of her second term. She was an academic and that helps with brain function. And she is a woman and they do not generally decline as fast as men.

Sanders would be 87 at the end of two terms. I do think humane instincts are more important than mental power. But this is an important job. And you know what Harry Callahan said:

He Isn’t a Democrat

This is something that annoys me a little bit. The reason is that Sanders is not a socialist. I would vote for Jeremy Corbyn over him any day because Corbyn is a socialist. Sanders is just a typical New Deal Democrat. And that’s great! But why the big deal of refusing to join the Democratic Party? We don’t have a parliament. We have a two-party system. Sanders is a Democrat and he should just accept it.

Hasan’s primary argument is, “So what?” That works very well for me. Personally, I feel that Sanders was treated almost as badly in 2016 as Jesse Jackson was in 1988. Unfortunately, it matters a great deal for a whole lot of Democrats. There are a lot of Clinton supporters who seem to hate Sanders more than Trump. And if that’s a bit hyperbolic, a lot of people hold Sanders partly responsible for her loss. That’s totally unfair, but since when was politics fair?

He’s a Socialist

Hasan says the usual things: the word doesn’t have much power anymore; among democrats “socialism” is more popular than “capitalism”; it’s going to be hard for Republicans to demonize him with the word since they called Obama and Bill Clinton — both conservative Democrats — socialists. I’ll add another one: he’s not a socialist!

Why I’m Not Keen on Sanders

It should be clear that my main problem with Sanders is his age. But I also don’t like the fact that the Democratic establishment is going to go after him even harder this time. Just the same, I hear a lot of Democrats on Twitter saying, “We are united!” When I hear that kind of thing it makes my ass twitch. It’s the kind of thing people say right before a major screw-up.

But there is another reason I’m not as keen on Sanders. Although I agree with him on most things, we part ways significantly over policing and guns. That wouldn’t be a problem if there weren’t someone else who I agreed with more.

But again, if he is the nominee, I will proudly vote for him. Sadly, just like a lot of the ignorant Jill Stein voters in 2016, I feel certain that a lot of establishment Democrats will not vote for Sanders if he is nominated. All this tribalism drives me crazy.

Sherrod Brown

I’ve always like Sherrod Brown. He’s kind of my perfect politician: a labor Democrat. In terms of policy, he really isn’t different than Warren or Sanders. But Brown has deep ties with organized labor. And I really think if workers are ever going to get any power in this country, it’s going to take more than policy; it’s going to take a revitalization of organized labor.

But earlier this year, I didn’t know that much about Brown outside of his economic positions. So I researched him. And I found that other than a mixed record on drugs, I agree with him pretty much across the board. He has everything Bernie has going for him and nothing he has going against him.

And he has something else that was critical to Sanders in 2016: authenticity. He is not a latecomer to this party. He’s been pushing the same policies for decades. In the 1990s, he wasn’t a New Democrat.

Summary: 2020

So I hope that Sherrod Brown runs. I think if he does, he’s going to blow away the pretenders like Biden, Harris, and Booker. But who knows? He may not even run. I’ll vote for whoever the Democratic candidate is. (Yes, even the little yellow dog.) I’m united with that cause. Sadly, I’m not so sure about a lot of other Democrats — and that includes people on both sides of this ridiculous conflict.


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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

7 thoughts on “Is It Really Time to Say Sherrod Brown Should Be President

  1. “If the economy is tanking in 2020, that little yellow dog with a (D) after its name will win. And the Democrats could nominate the second coming of Jesus Christ and if he had a (D) after his name, he’d go down in flames (Haha!) if the economy has a minor recession next year and comes roaring back in 2020.”

    I think this overstates the case, and my main e6vidence is the election we had last month. A fundamentals-only model would suggest the Republicans would do fairly well, given the economy was in pretty good shape. The fact that we won the House convincingly despite the fundamentals says candidates and ideas do, in fact, matter.

    • There’s something to that. However, wages really haven’t gone up much (even though unemployment has stayed low) while the cost of living keeps rising. So while the “economy” is doing fine, most people aren’t seeing much tangible difference. I actually hoped Democrats would do better this November, although I was very happy with the state-level gains.

      I think Frank’s hypothetical scenario is about right. If the economy takes a real nosedive, Trump is in trouble. If there’s a brief scare of some kind (say, a temporary huge rise in gas prices) and things go back to normal, he’ll get a boost.

      If things are roughly the same in 2020, that’s when candidates and ideas will matter most. Which is why the notion of Democrats nominating some centrist non-entity terrifies me.

      • My model is just based upon the political science of presidential elections. The economic trend (GDP or GNP) the year of the election accounts for about 40 percent of who wins. That might not seem like much but most of the other things are a wash.

        What’s curious about it is that it isn’t the economic state that voters are experiencing; it’s just how they feel about it. So it doesn’t matter if they are doing well. They need to perceive it that way. Thus the tend.

        I do think that Trump will have problems even if the economy is improving. Most people really don’t like him. But I’m coming to the point of not seeing any real difference between him and George W Bush. Well, any real bad difference. Trump isn’t inclined to get us into more wars. And he isn’t trying to privatize Social Security.

        It is funny that his analysis of the Fed is right. Yet the Fed is not doing what he wants because, as usual, he just let the other Republicans pick for him and they want policy for the rich, not policy that is good for jobs. During the election, Trump talked about how the Republican Party was trying to sabotage him. I don’t know if they were then, but they are now. And he can’t see that he’s been conned.

        • “Trump isn’t inclined to get us into more wars.” I hope that’s true. I have a sneaking suspicion he very much would like a war, but there really isn’t an easy target available. Where’s Grenada when you need a small-scale atrocity?

          Some huge, never-ending war, that takes staying on talking point focus for six months and getting every major media outlet to go along. Focus is not Trump’s forte. Like all such business celebrities, he’s more of an “idea guy” than actually someone who knows anything. Space Force!

          • I don’t think he wants war. But I think he would see it as usual. If the Mueller report comes out before Trump can stop it and it is damning, I would be surprised if we don’t get a war. Wag the dog and all.

      • Well stated. Vavreck says that in a presidential race, the economic trend is responsible for 40 percent of the effect. So there’s still a lot of room for the election to go either way. BTW: at the time of the 2016 election, this trend was basically zero. I believe if the election had been held even two months earlier, Clinton wins easily. But check back here on 2 Jan 2018 for an interesting look at the effect of Jill Stein on the 2016 results.

    • The funny thing is that the models for presidential elections are totally different from those for off-year elections.

      But I do think Trump will likely have difficulty. Lynn Vavreck’s book The Message Matters shows how the out-party can win in a strong economy: by making the election about something else. For example, Ford should have won in 1976 but Carter (for obvious reasons) was able to make the election about corruption. But even in these cases, the out-party only wins slim victories. But the Democratic candidate could make the 2020 election about corruption or just Trump’s overall awfulness.

      My point is more that Trump is far from assured to go down as many liberals believe. But then, I’m still scarred by 2004.

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