Running for Exposure

Twenty-four people are running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. From where I sit, at least half of them are only running for exposure, for the Vice-Presidential nod, for Cabinet secretary, to push a platform, or to simply be seen. Their ambitions have made the process turgid and impractical, often amusing and only sometimes illuminating.

The candidates do best when they have time to expound on their ideas, as they did at Rev. William Barber's Poor People's Congress on June 17, or at Rev. Jesse Jackson's National Rainbow Coalition International Convention June 28-July 2. Barber's meeting drew nine candidates, each who had the opportunity to give a four-minute speech and 26 minutes of questioning from Rev. Barber.

The Rainbow PUSH gathering drew seven candidates who had about 15 minutes to address those assembled. Vice-President Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Mayors Bill Di Blasio and Pete Buttigieg had press conferences with Rev. Jackson. Senators Harris and Booker did not attend Rev. Jackson’s meeting, although Harris did get to Rev. Barber’s and pledged to support a debate dedicated to poverty issues.

With a crowded field and calendar, it is clear that everybody can’t be everywhere, but I’d like the two African American Senators to explain why they snubbed Rev. Jackson, a leader who provided the very foundation for them to run for office.

Memo to Andrew Yang; Marianne Williamson; Montana Governor Steve Bullock; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; and a few others, what are you running for, really? You've got ideas— doesn't everybody? But you have about as good a chance of being President as the proverbial snowball has a chance of surviving Hades. You've raised a little money, and you've got a skeleton staff. Why not sit home and write op-eds about your good ideas? Somebody will publish them.

Memo to California Congressman Eric Swalwell— age baiting is neither thoughtful nor cute. It's fine to tell Vice-President Joe Biden to "pass the torch" once, but to say it more than once seems like badgering and makes you look like a junior high school heckler. Biden should have come back at you for hedging your bets. You told the San Francisco Chronicle that, while you are running for President, you haven't closed the door on keeping your congressional seat. You have until December to decide, you say. Do us all a favor. Decide now!

Memo to Beto O'Rourke. Just like the South lost the Civil War, you lost the Senate race in 2018. Losing a statewide competition is hardly the foundation for a successful Presidential run. You were a nondescript Congressman who sponsored little legislation, a Democratic sensation mainly because you came close to toppling the odious Senator Cruz. But what do you stand for other than white male exuberance, jumping up on tables with the wild hand gestures? Run for Senate in Texas again. Maybe you'd win and really make a difference!

Memo to Julian Castro. Don't patronize your own community by speaking Spanish poorly. I think Latino people care more about your policy positions than your Spanish language ability. Good move in going after Beto O'Rourke in the debates on immigration issues. Wrong move in missing the Poor People's Congress after confirming that you'd be there.