Opinion

Why are there still Democrats declaring to run for president?

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There are currently 17 candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, and there seems to be a little something for everyone?

Do you want to vote for a socialist? You’ve got plenty of people to choose from. Bernie Sanders, who called himself a socialist back before it was cool again, is joined by a number of people who either are comfortable with the label themselves, or embrace the same brand of extreme progressivism represented by Sanders. If you don’t like him, you can choose Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris or even Julian Castro.

Do you want to vote for a woman? The aforementioned Warren and Harris are joined by Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar and Marianne Williamson.

Do you like candidates who are not openly hostile to the people living outside of the cities and coastal areas? Gabbard is joined by Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and the eclectic but well-meaning Andrew Yang.

Would you like to bypass the typical smorgasbord of senators and governors that typically run for president, and vote for a mayor of small city? Well, I’ve got good news, you can vote for Pete Buttigieg (South Bend, Indiana) or Wayne Messam (Miramar, Florida).

Maybe you want somebody young. Buttigieg, Messam, Castro, Gabbard and Yang are all under the age of 50, with Buttigieg and Gabbard actually being in their 30s. Cory Booker just turned 50.

Or maybe you want somebody old? Sanders is 78 years old, Joe Biden is 76 and Warren is 70.

Want a billionaire? You’ve got Tom Steyer. Want somebody from an industrial state? Joe Sestak. Want to vote for somebody you’ve never heard of? Messam, Williamson and Yang are joined by John Delaney. Maybe you love the state of Colorado? Michael Bennet is here for you.

There is literally something for everyone. Rich candidates. Poor candidates. Diverse candidates. Old white male candidates. Insiders. Outsiders. Everything.

None of which counts the nine other Democrats that have already dropped out, by the way.

You would think that 26 people running for president would give the Democrats what they need. Someone in that strange collection of people would be a good choice to take on Donald Trump.

So why is it that Democrats keep falling all over themselves to jump into the race, even at this incredibly late stage, to fill some kind of space they don’t think is being filled right now?

Michael Bloomberg has, for what seems like the hundredth time, decided to dip his toes in the water, maybe even getting in this time.

And the piece de resistance of this circus is Hillary Clinton. “I, as I say, never, never, never say never,” she told BBC radio this week, “and I will certainly tell you I’m under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about it.”

Heaven help us.

So how, exactly, can such a massive field of people with great differences from one another somehow be so unsatisfying that halfway through November — which is much too late in presidential politics — we still have major candidates thinking about getting in?

I think the answer is ultimately related to the dissatisfaction the Democrats have with the realistic options they have. Right now, the only five candidates that have even the slightest chance of winning the nomination are Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and Harris.

Looking at the polls, the choice as it stands today seems to really be between Biden and Warren, and neither one of them are what anyone would call good candidates. Biden is old, often confused, gaffe-prone, and is viewed with distrust by the progressive base. Warren is angry, and is so unbelievably extreme that she risks a McGovern-style rejection in the general election.
So neither of those choices seems good, and the other realistic options aren’t much better.

I guess, at the end of the day, 26 people isn’t enough, and I’d keep looking too.

Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C.

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