Democrats need to trim down the candidate pool

It’s not 2020, and yet we’ve already got Democrats coming out of the woodwork announcing they’re running for president against Donald Trump. There have been so many announcements over the last couple of months that it’s hard to keep track.

Instead of the time-honored tradition of an American election, I feel like I’m witnessing the exodus from a clown car. You see one candidate emerge, and then another and another, and you look at that car to see how many others are going to pop out.

With other activities, this would be fairly funny. For me, it says one think about the Democratic Party — they’re disorganized. You expect a few candidates for one party as the primary approaches, but there are more than a dozen declared candidates with the first election about a year away. If Democrats are eager to unseat Trump next year, they’re going to need a more manageable stable of selections.

You have a return performance by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran in 2016 and lost to Hillary Clinton. He wasn’t the first candidate to enter the fray, but he’s definitely one of the more noticeable as he fell in the primary bitterly opposed to Clinton and what she represented. Then he buried the hatchet with the former first lady — and not in the back of her head to show a united front.

Speaking of senators, you’ve got plenty of them to choose from — Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, to name a few. The group of senators definitely will tap into the Democrats’ mantra of being the melting pot, with three of them vying to be the first woman president and the fourth trying to be another black president, following in Obama’s footsteps.

The identity politics doesn’t stop there, with former Texas mayor Julian Castro running as the first Latino candidate, and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttegieg forming an exploratory committee that could make him the first openly gay candidate and, if successful, America’s youngest president.

Then you’ve got non-politicians jumping in. There’s Marianne Williamson, a bestseller of spiritual books, and Andrew Yang, a former tech executive.

Just this morning, as I’m watching the morning news, there’s word that Joe Biden, who served as vice president under President Barack Obama for eight years, might join the fray. Just one more candidate, one additional person that Democratic voters will have to research as they try to figure out which candidate is the best one to take down Trump.

Is anybody else’s head spinning yet?

It’s a stark contrast between the two elections as two candidates fought for the nomination in 2016, and every color of the rainbow is grappling for the honor today. Neither option is particularly appealing, as only having two choices gives you the sense of selecting the lesser of two evils, while having to choose between a dozen or so is like rummaging through the department store discount bin and hoping you select something that isn’t broken.

That’s not going to work if the Democrats have any hope of reclaiming the White House in 2020. The 2016 election saw a hefty number of Republicans run for the presidency as Obama prepared to exit due to term limits, and because the cattle chute was so packed, Trump slid out as the eventual candidate. If Democrats are serious about stopping Trump, they shouldn’t be following in the Republicans’ footsteps and putting so many candidates up on pedestals.

If they want to get Trump out, they need to cull the herd. No identity politics. No far-out candidates. No one-issue politicians. The only way to win the election is to find someone who can not only support the segment of America that hates Trump but can find a way to convince the president’s acolytes that they deserve someone so much better. Right now, there’s no way to tell if there’s anyone in the pasture that can harness those abilities.

As for the present, the Democrats need to stop throwing their hats into the ring. There is still almost a year before the first primary election. No one is going to remember you popping out on the stage right now. Voters will only start giving a hoot in the weeks before their election, and that’s only the hardcore patriots that will even bother.

Instead of a bunch of candidates divvying up the 15 minutes of fame, Democrats should select three or four potentials for the voters to decide on. If the party can’t get itself organized, they’ll pretty much give Trump a free pass to four more years, and the only finger-pointing they’ll be able to do is at themselves.

Lee Pulaski is the city editor for the Shawano Leader. Readers can contact him at lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com.