Monday, April 29, 2019

Democrats Qualified for Debates

Will Your Candidate be in the Debates?
Related:
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
When and where are the Debates?

The first "debate" among the Democratic presidential candidates will be held in Miami June 26 and 27, 2019. ("Debate" is in quotes because these presidential candidates events are more properly thought of as a news conference with 20 subjects and one or two questioners than as the classic academic form of debate, with two teams of two persons each engaged in timed presentations and rebuttal.)

What's the Standard?

There are two paths to qualification for participation: donors and polls. To qualify because of donors the candidate must (a) have received donations from 65,000 or more individuals, including (b) at least 200 donors each from within at least 20 states. To qualify on the basis of polls the candidate must have received at least 1% support in at least 3 polls.

Who are the Top Candidates?

Sixteen (of 20) candidates qualify under one or both standards.

The top seven have 9 polls each over 1%, and more than 65,000 donors: Sanders (563,359), Buttigieg (158,568), Harris (138,000), Warren (134,902), Biden (96,926), Klobuchar (>65,000), O'Rourke (>65,000). The 8th, Andrew Yang, ranks 5th for donors (101,352), and has 5 polls over 1%.

The additional eight include seven who qualify only with polls Booker (9), Castro (7), Gillibrand (6), Hickenlooper (4), Delaney (3), and Ryan (3). Gabbard qualifies with donors (>65,000).

For additional data see, Maggie Astor, Denise Lu and Matt Stevens, "Who's in the Democratic Debates, and Who's in Danger of Missing Them," The New York Times, April 29, 2019; and compare, Geoffrey Skelley, "16 Candidates Now Qualify For The First Democratic Primary Debates," FiveThirtyEight, April 26, 2019.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Presidential Experience

Click HERE for the application to some of the top Democratic candidates of the criteria set forth in this column.
Related:
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
Democrats in 2020 Should Value Experienced Candidate
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, April 28, 2019, p. D3

Why focus on the Democrats’ presidential primary? Because of the 13 elected presidents since 1932 (Gerald Ford was appointed) only two who wanted reelection didn’t win (Presidents Jimmy Carter and H.W. Bush). This history, plus President Donald Trump’s loyal base, suggest the 2020 election is Trump’s to lose.

Democrats want a winning candidate. They should also want a competent president.

There’s a path to becoming British Prime Minister. There’s none for our presidency: 17 presidents were former governors, 14 vice presidents, eight cabinet secretaries, three came directly from the Senate, for five it was their first election. None had to meet education or experience requirements, take training programs or read manuals.

We want character, compassion, compromise, courage and curiosity in our presidents – along with intelligence, honesty, decency and other commendable personal qualities. Competence alone isn’t enough.

No candidate will have the wide range of experience a president needs, but the more the better.

In the 2008 Democratic primary Bill Richardson won the experience challenge. He understood legislative process from 15 years in the U.S. House, state government from two terms as governor, and federal as former Secretary, Department of Energy. He had administered large organizations and had the international perspective of a former U.N. ambassador credited with successful hostage negotiations.

Richardson used this in a comedic political spot.



A man interviewing him for a job recites Richardson’s resume and then asks him, “So, what makes you think you can be president?”

George H.W. Bush had a comparable record: CIA director, House member, U.N. ambassador, chief liaison China, Republican National Committee chair, and eight years as vice president.

What’s the range of helpful experience?

Administering eight million federal, military, and contract employees requires unique skills. Having been a governor, big city mayor, or cabinet officer helps.

There are “political people” – those who have run for office, managed campaigns, served constituents, and know the norms. It helps to have been one.

Presidents impact many government institutions: school boards, mayors and city councils, county supervisors, governors, state legislatures, Congress, Cabinet departments, the judiciary and the military. Has your candidate had experience within those institutions?

Presidents needn’t be former constitutional law professors, but they need to understand and support, emotionally as well as intellectually, the Constitution’s limitations on, as well as powers of, the presidency.

Having been a U.S. Senator is not enough. But understanding the executive-legislative relationship is essential, and it helps to have been a legislator somewhere.

There are 4,000 presidential appointments. Some candidates could list 4,000 qualified appointees from memory. Others struggle to name a couple dozen. Where will your candidate look? How will they choose?

A range of life experiences and acquaintances from high school dropouts to Ph.D. professors; multiple ethnicities and religions; labor leaders and CEOs; impoverished and wealthy; urban and rural; agricultural, manufacturing and retail employees, makes for a more competent and compassionate president.

The president must be an international player and may become a global leader. Having worked with and for organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, NATO, or as an ambassador, provides insight. Failing that, previous education, multiple languages, and world travel can help a president to frame questions and understand the answers.

While we’re enjoying the excitement of evaluating our stampede of wannabe candidates let’s give at least some thought to their qualifications as wannabe presidents. Measure them against this list, and then ask them, “What makes you think you can be president?” [Photo credit: IaVote.net]

Nichholas Johnson, a native Iowan and three-time presidential appointee, maintains ColumnsOfDemocracy.com for his latest book. Comments: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

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Application of Experience Criteria to Top Democrats

Notes:
1. What is meant by "experience"? To have been a vice president, or senator, is an experience, but is not "the experience" referenced here.

The breadth of desirable experience for a president is more like the experience, understanding and skills one would hope for a decathlon competitor. In track competition a decathlon consists of four track and six field events, a total of 10 events. Competitions include 100-meter sprint, 110-meter hurdles, 400-meter event, 1500-meter event, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus throw, javelin throw and pole vault. My high school track experience consisted of shot put and discus. Even had I possessed skill in those events decathlons would have been out of the question. Javelin perhaps, but I've never tried to pole vault, and there was good reason for the coach to keep me out of running events.

Similarly, it is not enough that a president has been a governor, or senator, or ambassador. What one would hope for, ideally, is a candidate with experience in each of the eight (and more) categories of experience detailed in the column, above, and summarily repeated, below.

2. Is lack of experience a deal-breaker? In brief, "No." It is a relevant factor in comparing candidates that is often overlooked. There are many legitimate, relevant reasons for preferring one candidate over another. Experience is but one of them. Others are mentioned in the column, above.

3. What about Trump's "experience"? In fairness to the Democratic candidates, all of whom are fairly light in the experience department (as the word is used here), it should be noted that each and every one of them far exceeds Trump -- who fails to qualify in almost all of the eight categories

Comparing the Leaders

To remind, the categories, above, are:
1. Administration and management of huge organizations.
2. "Political" savy.
3. Range of institutions exposure.
4. Constitutional knowledge.
5. Legislative experience.
6. Network of quality potential appointees.
7. Range of acquaintances and life experience.
8. International understanding.
I've chosen six candidates for comparison: Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris, Warren and O'Rourke.

1. Administrative. All are lacking administrative and management experience leading huge organizations. All have had some experience in smaller settings: Harris' role as California Attorney General; Sanders and Buttigieg as relatively small-town mayors; Biden heading various projects while reporting to President Obama. None has served as a governor or federal cabinet secretary.

2. Political. All have run for and won one or more elections.

3. Institutional range. The range of their institutional familiarity is limited. Two have served on a city council (Biden and O'Rourke). Harris served as a state's attorney general; Biden was once a public defender; Warren a professor in higher education institutions.

Buttigieg is the only one with actual military service. None has even worked in, let alone headed, the Pentagon, CIA or other intelligence agencies. Warren served on the Senate Armed Services Committee; O'Rourke on the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees.

I'm sure there's more, but in the column, above, I mention "school boards, mayors and city councils, county supervisors, governors, state legislatures, Congress, Cabinet departments, the judiciary and the military" and few have touched more than one or two of those bases.

4. Constitution. Three are lawyers (Biden, Harris and Warren), but that is not the equivalent of a mastery of constitutional law or involvement in controversies in which the constitution was an issue. Of course, constitutional and Supreme Court interest and study, with emphasis on Article II executive power, is not restricted to those with law degrees.

5. Legislative. All but Buttigieg have legislative experience in the U.S. Senate or House. There may be some with state legislative experience that research did not uncover.

6. Network. Biden probably has the edge in the number of contacts with individuals qualified to serve the federal government in some professional capacity (which is what this category is about). The others would not have reason to have a breadth of such contacts (beyond the specialties of their committees other other life work). Of course, those who have made it to the debates on the basis of number of donors have at least a political network of 200 people in 20 states: Sanders (563,359), Buttigieg (158,568), Harris (138,000), Warren (134,902), O'Rourke (>65,000). But that's not what this category is about.

7. Diversity. There's no way (at least that I know of) to find out the range of acquaintances and life experiences of the leading candidates with sufficient detail and accuracy to make meaningful judgments and comparisons. That does not detract from the significance of this category, or the possibility one might pick up bits and pieces if attuned to looking for them.

8. International. So far as my scanning of their bios revealed none has the kind of international experience described in the column: "United Nations, World Bank, NATO, or as an ambassador." Biden as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and vice president, had significant foreign travel and meetings with leaders of other countries. Buttigieg's military service included time spent in Afghanistan; he is said to know eight languages.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Impeachment and the Mueller Report

Random Thoughts Regarding
Impeachment and the Mueller Report
April 22, 2019; April 23
Related:
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
Politics and the Constitution

The Constitution specifically imposes on every member of the House of Representatives the power and responsibility for impeaching a president. ("The President ... shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Art. II, Sec. 4. "The House of Representatives ... shall have the sole Power of Impeachment." Art. I, Sec. 2.5. "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments." Art. I, Sec. 3.6).

There is no provision excluding this responsibility from "cases in which so doing might result in a House member's inability to be reelected," or "cases in which conviction by the Senate is highly unlikely." It is as inappropriate (and possibly unconstitutional) for a member of the House to fail to support an impeachment inquiry for partisan reasons as for that Member to pursue impeachment for partisan reasons.

The founders laid this responsibility upon the House for reasons similar to their choosing the House as the body to declare war (a constitutional obligation House members have also sidestepped) -- because it is the closest to the people who will bear the burden of both decisions.

Grounds for Impeachment

Not only is it impossible to read the Mueller Report -- or even the books and daily newspaper reports about President Trump -- without concluding that an impeachment inquiry is clearly warranted, but the Report's authors suggest that is their conclusion as well.

Although constrained by the distinctions between the powers of an "Independent Counsel" and a "Special Counsel," and their lack of authority to indict a sitting president, the authors note that "a criminal investigation during the President's term is permissible" (vol. II, p. 1), and that "a President does not have immunity after he leaves office," leading to their decision to conduct "a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available." (vol. II, p. 1). That certainly sounds like a contemplation of at least the possibility of an indictment for obstruction of justice after Trump leaves office. This conclusion is reinforced with the comment that "we are unable to reach [the] judgment . . . after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice ... " (vol. II, p. 2) along with the ten or more categories of "overarching factual issues" and "general statements about the President's conduct." (vol. II, p. 7).

In addition to possible future indictments for obstruction of justice, the Report states, "The conclusion that Congress may apply obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” (vol. II, p. 8)

Finally, a simple comparison of the charges and findings regarding the behavior of Trump against those of the two presidents impeached by the House during the past 50 years renders laughable any suggestion that Trump's offenses do not warrant an impeachment inquiry.

President Richard Nixon's impeachment involved his response to an old fashioned physical break-in at Democratic Party headquarters. The articles of impeachment were for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. (The latter was for Nixon's refusal to comply with Congressional subpoenas -- something Trump is currently doing, although Trump is going above and beyond mere refusal by actually suing the Congressional committee!). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_process_against_Richard_Nixon).

For Trump Administration's current refusal to comply with Congress' demands, see Peter Baker, Annie Karni and Alan Rappeport, "Democrats Ask and Trump Says No, Signaling a Bitter Fight Ahead," New York Times, April 23, 2019, p. A12, and Robert Costa, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, "Trump Says He is Opposed to White House Aides Testifying to Congress, Deepening Power Struggle with Hill," The Washington Post, posted April 23, 2019, 8:28 PM.

President Bill Clinton's two article of impeachment -- for perjury and obstruction of justice -- grew out of a "sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Clinton by Paula Jones" and inappropriate sexual encounters with a White House intern. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Bill_Clinton).

Impeachment Alternatives

If, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other Party leaders urge, there is not to be an impeachment of President Trump, notwithstanding the constitutional obligations of House members, I have urged alternatives such as House resolutions or censure.

What the House must provide, for the sake of our democracy and constitution, as well as the legacy of this House, is more than mere multiple congressional committee hearings. There must be some form of House action, with a recorded vote of each member.

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Following the publication of this blog post analogous analyses have been published. Here are two (with no suggestion this blog post was read by either of them, something I would consider highly unlikely):

Hillary Clinton, "Mueller Documented a Serious Crime Against All Americans. Here's How to Respond," The Washington Post, April 24, 2019, 4:44 PM

Elizabeth Drew, "The Danger in Not Impeaching Trump; It may be risky politically, but Congress has a responsibility to act," The New York Times, April 25, 2019

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Presidential Candidates' Rankings and Experience

Democratic 2020 Presidential Primary:
Candidates, Rankings and Experience
April 15, 2019; updates April 23, 25, 26
Related:
* Presidential Candidates Rankings, April 15, 2019 (with updates)
* Impeachment and the Mueller Report, April 22, 2019 (with update),
* Presidential Experience: How Your Candidate Measures Up, April 28, 2019
* Democrats Qualified for Debates: Will Your Candidate be in the Debates? April 29, 2019
* Dem Primary Candidates' Ranking - May 2, 2019: How's Your Candidate Ranked?, May 2, 2019
* May 4 Updates: Popularity; Klobuchar; Iowa 2nd District, May 4, 2019
* What Dems are up against; some insights from 2-1/2 years ago: Donald Trump’s Barrel of Squirrels: How Does the Donald Do It? Sept. 26 2016
* Attacks on our democracy and what we can do about it: Columns of Democracy available from Iowa City’s Prairie Lights and Amazon.
Introduction
This site is intended to be an entertaining conversation starter for those who enjoy and follow politics and have maintained enough civility to continue to speak about such matters with friends and family.

I have not endorsed any candidate, and am not now working in any candidate's campaign. (If and when that changes I will post a notice to that effect.)

Moreover, this blog post does not engage in the foolishness of forecasting -- especially this early in the campaign. Plenty of "unknown unknowns" will be encountered along the road to November 3, 2020, any one of which can change the outcome during a single news cycle.

This is simply one approach to the question, "Where are we now?"

The Ranking
As of today (April 15) Ballotpedia.org reports there are 227 Democratic Party candidates, 84 Republicans, 24 Libertarians and 14 from the Green Party.
Update April 23, 2019: As one would expect, the number of candidates remains relatively steady: Democrats up 2 to 229, Libertarians up 1 to 25, Republicans and Greens steady at 84 and 14. Ballotpedia (a site full of additional interesting and useful data as well).
We will be reporting on the top three or four Democrats, as measured by four criteria: popularity with voters, money raised, number of donors, and weighted endorsements.

My judgment as to the top four at this time, considering all four criteria, are: Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke and Cory Booker (pictured below in that order; first three from Wikimedia, no Wikimedia of Booker so used selfie he took). Here's how they rank:

Popularity (from Real Clear Politics): Sanders, 21.7%; O'Rourke, 8.3%; Harris, 7.8%, Booker, 3.7%. (Biden, at 31.2%, is excluded from this ranking because he has not yet entered the race.) Rolling Stone, presumably also measuring popularity, changes rankings each week. This week they are consistent with Real Clear Politics' findings. Currently, Rolling Stone's rankings for this and last week were: Sanders (1, 1), Harris (2, 2), O'Rourke (4, 3), Booker (7, 6).
Update April 23, 2019: This week we expand the leaders' group from 4 to 6: At the top, Biden (30%) and Sanders (22.5%); in the next cluster O'Rourke (8.8%), Harris (8.5%), with Buttigieg and Warren tied at (6.0%). Real Clear Politics. The latest single poll, Monmouth, April 23, reports (name; percentage): Biden 27; Sanders 20; Harris 8; Buttigieg 8; Warren 6. Rolling Stone changed slightly to Real Clear Politics' 5: Sanders, Harris, Warren, O'Rourke, and Buttigieg (in that order).

Joe Biden. Of course, with Biden at 30%, and predictions he'll announce this Wednesday (April 24), that's a game-changer for the current front runners. April 25: It finally occurred this morning, rather than yesterday. It will be a couple of weeks before we can gather and update info on his money, number of donors, endorsements -- and whether his announcement will increase, or decrease, his support percentage.
April 26: Biden's announcement April 25 produced little news and less enthusiasm from most media. Many stories led with a list of reasons why Democrats should not, and will not, select him as their candidate, along with reporting President Trump's disparaging nickname for him: "Sleepy Joe." Here's an example: Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, "5 Questions That Will Determine if Joe Biden Can Succeed," The New York Times, April 25, 2019, p. A17. No candidate among the 20 now considered serious candidates has the range and depth of experience essential to a president's competence on Day One (though all have more than the current incumbent). But as limited as even Biden's is (U.S. senator, vice president, two prior presidential primaries, some international), his experience exceeds that of any of the others. His pre-announcement popularity with voters (30%) also put him at the head of the pack. Kind words seemed relegated to the opinion pages. Here's Republican David Brooks, "Your Average Joe," The New York Times, April 25, 2019 [Photo: Joe Biden, World Economic Forum, 2005; Credit: wikimedia commons.]
Money Raised (in total dollars and dollars per day; from PBS Newshour): Sanders ($18.2M; $444,000/day); Harris ($12M; $171,000/day); O'Rourke ($9.4M; $520,000/day); Booker ($5M; $84,745/day). Note the consistency in the Money Raised ranking and the Popularity ranking.
Update April 23, 2019: PBS Newshour reports no changes from last week for Sanders, Harris and O'Rourke. But we should probabaly now note that Buttigieg has raised $7 million ($107,000/day) and Klobuchar $5.2 million ($104,000 per day), both ahead of Booker, last week and this, at $5 million.
Number of Donors (from New York Times, Feb. 9, 2019): Given that the first primary is "the money primary" (discussed in Commentary, below) the total donated to each candidate is a relevant measure of their strength for a variety of reasons, including popularity. But because it can be so significantly affected by the receipt, or rejection, of PAC money and other large contributions it can be deceiving. (And because candidates can solicit and count their $1.00 and $5.00 contributions, their "average" (i.e., mean) contribution can also be deceiving.)

Therefore, the number of donors is data worth considering. (Bear in mind, these numbers are significantly affected by how long the candidate has been in the race, and change daily if not hourly, but the calculation on any given day provides some useful information. The following ranking was reported by the Times on Feb. 9 of this year.) Our current four candidates (Sanders, O'Rourke, Harris, Booker) are ranked 1, 2, 5, 8. Sanders, 1.2 million; O'Rourke, 743,000; Harris, 239,000; Booker, 56,000. (Those ranked 3, 4, 6, 7 are Elizabeth Warren (343,000), Kirsten Gillibrand (272,000), Sherrod Brown (114,000), and Jeff Merkley (105,000).
Update April 23, 2019: Some candidates report number of donors, others don't (e.g., Cory Booker). Some indication of numbers can be gathered from data regarding average contributions. Here's a CBS News report as of April 15. Emily Tillett, "2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Reveal First Quarter Fundraising Efforts," CBS News, April 15, 2019.
Sanders - 900,000 donors (includes 100,000 Independents, 20,000 Republicans) - 99.5% of donors gave less than $100, 88% of money came in $200 or less amounts - average donation $20
Harris - 218,000 donors - 98% less than $200 - average $28
O'Rourke - 218,000 donors - 98% less than $200 - average $43
Buttigieg - ($7,000,000) - 158,550 donors - 64% less than $200 - average $36.35
Warren - 135,000 donors - 99% less than $200 - average $28
Endorsements (from 538's points allocation system, from one to ten based on prestige/influence of the endorser): Booker (57), Harris (55), Sanders (21), O'Rourke (14).
Update April 23, 2019: Booker, Harris and O'Rourke are unchanged (57, 55, 14). Sanders is up one (to 22). And there are three additions for us this week: Klobuchar, who leaped to third place at 44; Biden, who is now being included, at 21; and Warren at 18. (Buttigieg is ranked ninth with 8 endorsement points.) FiveThirtyEight.

Update April 29, 2019: Big news, but no surprise: following Biden's declaration of candidacy he arrived on FiveThirtyEight's endorsement chart at number one, with 75 points. Booker (2), Harris (3), Sanders (6), and O'Rourke (7) still unchanged (at 57, 55, 22 and 14 points each). Klobuchar (4) has dropped from 44 to 39 points. Warren (5) is up from 18 to 23; Buttigieg (9) has risen from 8 to 11 points.
Commentary.
In terms of the concerns I've expressed regarding attacks on our democracy (Columns of Democracy), the Popularity ranking (Sanders, (O'Rourke, Harris, or Harris, O'Rourke), Booker), though both imperfect and clearly premature, comes the closest to "the people's choice." Money Raised, which produced the same ranking, and Number of Donors, which produced a similar ranking, are similar measures -- in this instance not just of the donor's marginal preference of one candidate over others, but of enough commitment to part with their money. (This is especially-to-only true if the candidate has refused PAC money and is relying on small contributions. To the extent money is coming from the 1%, PACs, and corporate bundling of checks we have a preliminary primary that Larry Lessig has called "the money primary," from which the surviving candidates are picked by the major donors who usually expect something in return. Voters are then left with choices from among only those candidates who have been cleared and "nominated" by America's most wealthy to run in the second primary.)

Endorsements raise separate, but related issues to those raised by "the money primary" -- as Bernie Sanders discovered in 2016. As the FiveThirtyEight site explains, "Party elites use endorsements to influence not only voters but also each other, hoping to get other powerful party members to rally behind the candidate they think would be most acceptable." In other words, just as there is "the money primary" there is also the "Democratic Party elites primary." Just as the major donors tend to have their own reasons for favoring one candidate over another, so do the Democratic Party elites.

Note that Booker and Kobuchar, who rank number one and three respectively with endorsements, rank 5 and 6 in fundraising, 7 and 8 in popularity, and 8 and 10 in number of donors.

Experience.
So far this blog has focused on candidates. There is another factor that should be relevant to voters, but is often overlooked. That is: if your candidate were to win the general election, and become president, which of their past experiences and skills give you some confidence they will be able to not only win election as president but be able to function with competence as president? That is the subject of the blog post "Presidential Experience," April 28, 2019.

Issues
Am I interested in "the issues," the new (and old) ideas being put forth by the candidates? You bet I am. I love to learn about new public policy ideas, research and write about them, and think up new ones of my own. I've spent much of my life doing just that.

Candidate Andrew Yang has a "platform" (scroll down his "policies" page) that looks like it has about 100 such proposals. I'll probably look through all of them at some point.

There will be something connected to this blog post about policy if this post becomes an ongoing project.

I care about a candidate's intelligence, their curiosity, their creativity. But more than their creative ideas, what I want to know is their understanding of the processes that can transform those ideas into a reality that has a positive impact on people's lives.

As I have put the question to every presidential candidate I have talked to during the past 40 years or so, "Why are coal miners going to be safer in the mines with you in the White House?" along with similar questions. In other words, "I like your proposals, but how are you going to make them happen when they will be so strongly opposed by the major donors to the House and Senate members whom you'll have to persuade to vote for them?"

It's relatively easy to come up with new ideas, even very popular new ideas -- especially if you have a research team to write them and they're tested with polling and focus groups before you reveal what they are, and you're able to follow the advice to "be sincere, even if you don't mean it." What's far from easy is having a Lyndon Johnson's knowledge of what it takes to translate those ideas into legislation that one can get through the House and Senate and still win reelection. Get your candidate to talk about that.

Meanwhile, I'll inform myself regarding what the candidates are proposing. It may reveal something about their background, values, process and focus. I just won't, ultimately, end up endorsing anyone based on their stump speeches alone.

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