In this unique moment in our history American voters are making choices about our country’s future leadership from a veritable smorgasbord of candidates. I frequently hear folks dismissing a candidate as unelectable before fully vetting their positions and skill sets.
Is there really such a thing as electability that can be predicted? I am sure many political consultants would say yes to that but there have certainly been folks dubbed unelectable who have prevailed.
In a Huffpost 5/25/2011 article “Obama “unelectable”? Tell me another one.” Author Mark Kleiman states “The hand-wringing about whether Barack Obama is “electable” has reached the point of absurdity. The claim that Hillary Clinton’s 9-point win over Obama in Pennsylvania “proves” that Obama can’t carry the Rustbelt in a general election is completely baseless. But that hasn’t kept the Clinton camp, the Rightwingosphere, and a bunch of TV talking heads just parroting the currently fashionable line of patter from pretending to believe it.
They haven’t convinced the superdelegates (since Tuesday Obama has picked up three new endorsements to Clinton’s one), and at least one major Clinton fundraiser is about to jump to Obama, but they’ve managed to spread an atmosphere of gloom.”
Obama was deemed unelectable and yet became President.
In 2016 folks were lining up to declare Trump unelectable, Lindsay Graham on the Morning Joe said “Donald Trump is the most unelectable Republican I have seen in my lifetime.” But with strong backing from MAGA supporters with conservative values along with moderates seeking relief from Washington insiders Trump too prevailed.
What does that tell us for 2020? It tells me that no one on the presidential candidate list from the Democratic side should be perceived as unelectable. When we dismiss candidates based on some divination of public preference we lose the opportunity to learn who they truly are and what they might be able to accomplish for our country.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been dubbed unelectable by many. Per Seth Mclaughlin (Washington Times 8/14/19) “ Democratic voters here love Mayor Pete, but they may be penalizing him because he’s gay. It’s not that they hold it against Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, but they fear the rest of the country may not be ready for a 37-year-old, married, openly gay man to sit in the White House, so they are reluctant to help him win the party’s presidential nomination.”
Mayor Buttigieg spoke in Mill Valley this week and commented on unelectability. He pointed out that the last 3 Democratic Presidents displayed very similar characteristics, they were not perceived as Washington insiders, they were fairly new to “the game” and they were polar opposites of the Republican President they succeeded.
Buttigieg, Andrew Yang and Julian Castro all fit those characteristics and may be very electable if history repeats. I think we would all do our democratic process a great service if we view the 2020 candidates based on their platforms and accomplishments rather than their perceived electability.