In case you hadn’t noticed, the 2020 US presidential election has commenced in earnest. Possibly, you had even noticed that it began almost immediately after the 2016 election. Such has become the fate of anyone pursuing a four-year stint at the White House. The campaigns are almost never-ending.
First, let’s go over some numbers and basics. A presidential candidate must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
According to ballotpedia.org, there are already 559 candidates for president! This may astound you, as it did me, until you learn that in 2016 there were 1780. Of course, we only hear about the most significant, likely-to-win people. Many of them were probably on very few, or even just one, state ballot. The current crop includes 192 Democrats, 13 Greens, 19 Libertarians and 72 Republicans. Of those who have made their interest known, some have formalized it by outright filing as candidates, while others have created exploratory committees to test the waters before jumping in.
Since the political system in the US is such that it is extremely unlikely that anyone other than a Democratic or Republican candidate will win, I shall focus on them for now.
It’s easier to start with the Republicans since they currently hold the presidency. Typically, no serious challengers come forth from a sitting president’s party. Yet, President Donald Trump is so odious to so many people, there is chatter about a possible run against him in the Republican primary elections. No one has yet come forth and said s/he would do that, but according to Ballotpedia, 14 names have been bandied about. I don’t believe that any Republican will ultimately try to oust Trump, and not only for the traditional reason that he is their sitting president. Unfortunately, tragically, that party, at least on the federal level, has come to resemble almost all of the parties we see in the Republic of Armenia—individual, strong-man centered, if not outright personality cults rather than being ideologically or policy based. Add the current state of the investigations into potential wrongdoing by Trump and the defensiveness that has naturally engendered. The president, senators and representatives of that party have every political reason to stick together strongly so they can create and ride out the storm of legal shenanigans that are soon to come. Why I use “shenanigans” instead of “proceedings” is the topic of a separate article.
Moving on to the Democratic party candidates, the broad observation that can be made is that the ideological “flavor” of the candidates has moved significantly to the left of where it has been for the last few decades. This is good news, not just because better policies are being proposed as a result, but also because it gives voters a clear choice of what type of government, laws and policies they want to have. Do they want Congress and the President acting in the interests of the people of the country at large, or in the very narrow interests of the monied elites and large/mega corporations?
Given my current awareness level of the Democratic candidates, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are the best suited for the job. Given political realities, I think Gabbard faces the greatest challenges among this group of three in advancing to the primary elections. My solution occurred to me when Sanders announced that he would be looking closely at having a woman as his vice-presidential running-mate. Why not join forces now for a Sanders-Gabbard ticket in November 2020?
On the Armenian front, I was disappointed when I saw the ANCA report cards for Sanders (a C) and Warren (a C+). Gabbard, on the other hand stood out with an A+. I also noticed a posting by ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian observing that Gabbard seemed to be on the tongues of Armenians more than any other candidate.
At this point, it seems to me the Armenian community’s interests in the US mitigate in the direction of strongly supporting Gabbard with an eye to the Sanders-Gabbard ticket I already mentioned. Perhaps Republican Armenians should re-register as Democrats to vote for her in the primaries. They can always re-register as Republicans later. Whether to support Trump, the eventual Democratic nominee, someone else or nobody for president (as happened in 2016) is something that can be determined in the summer of 2020.
Get out there and work on Gabbard’s campaign. If not hers, work with another candidate, so that Armenians are a potent presence in this presidential election cycle, regardless of who survives the next 18 politically grueling months before we know definitively who will be on the ballot in November 2020.