As we approach the 2020 election, after a surprise victory by Donald Trump in 2016, most members of Congress — actually most folks in Washington — now think they can be president. Who can blame them? However, we need to take a step backward and ask a fundamental question: Who can bring all sides together and advance vital public policy such as health care, gun control and climate change? I watch many politicians and their town hall meetings as they spin their positions and provide 60-second sound bites. We need to look at what those politicians’ records look like. Have they led policy issues and sponsored legislation that has crossed party lines and positively impacted people’s lives? Not just co-sponsored — have they actually been chief sponsor and worked across the aisle? How has the law worked and are people better for it?
Since moving from Edina 30 years ago to Washington, I have never seen the dysfunction that exists today. There’s $21 trillion in debt and growing. There are climate problems that may be too late to address and must be solved. It is a tough place to work, but we need a president who can bring people together and solve issues, not just present talking points and spin, but achieve implementation. We should expect nothing less from the next president.
Phil Gardner, Alexandria, Va.
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Is the crowded Democratic presidential hopeful field a positive or negative? My bet is on the candidate/team who will rally a groundswell of support with numbers that will defeat the menace posed by the corrupt party of the billionaires protecting millionaires with corporate welfare. This means being able to appeal widely, across divides, representing true change. Candidates who are too wildly radical will alienate the huge demographic of self-reported independents whose votes will determine ending the pain of the Trump administration. Democrats need a convener, not a divider. A candidate with solid experience and a proven track record of delivering real policies representing real change.
Big promises are unrealistic at the federal level, where knowing how to enact change is as critical. Change takes time and measured diplomacy. I know; I lived through radical upheaval in South America in the 1970s and saw the destruction this brings — continued division and an ugly future for our children and grandchildren.
I seek a solid candidate, with a proven track record, who supports global alliances with longstanding allies; sound environmental policies to avert climate catastrophe; affordable health care for all; gender, racial and religious parity with a clear separation of state from church; affordable, quality early childhood and higher education; and prudent economic stimulation with graduated taxation. Our own U.S. Amy Klobuchar carries our state’s phenomenal legacy of “moral economy” in her heart and on her shoulders.
Susan Schaefer, Minneapolis
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I have had several debates with fellow democrats in the last week over whether Klobuchar is the right candidate for the party in 2020 — particularly with Democrats on the coasts. Of concern to these individuals has been her proclivity to drive a more centrist and cautious view of what we ought to strive for and what she believes can be accomplished. That she hasn’t fully embraced the New Green Deal or other more extreme progressive policies seems to be an area of contention.
Despite being a far-left-leaning Democrat, I find the idea of a moderate presidential candidate like Klobuchar highly appealing. I find this in part because I think that our two-party system has drifted so far to the left and right that many of us in both parties have forgotten that there is a group of people that exists between the two sides. But I also find the idea appealing because at some point we, both conservatives and liberals, must stop treating one another like adversaries and be willing to work with each other again.
Neither party can or should depend on securing both the Senate and House and the presidency as a means of passing policy. We need a leader who can bring the parties together to work on legislation that is palatable to everyone. Clearly, President Trump has not been able to do that, but neither do I believe for a moment that presidential hopefuls like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker will be much more effective at healing a nation under siege by partisanship.
Sen. Klobuchar gives me hope, though, that such a monumental undertaking is possible. Save for efforts to reduce global warming — and as much as it pains me to say it — I can wait a little longer for all the shiny ideas present in the Green New Deal. What I feel we really need is a candidate who is capable and willing to cut through partisanship and foster an environment in Washington that makes it safe for Republicans and Democrats to work with one another.
Bob Cline, Minneapolis
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I am a college senior, a voter, and a person of faith. I write because I’m incredibly concerned about climate change and energized by recent action around the Green New Deal.
The latest climate report from the United Nations says we only have 12 years to transform our economy and halt catastrophic levels of climate change. I will be 34 in 12 years. Climate change is not an issue of the future; it’s an issue of the present. Our elected officials, both in Minnesota and in Washington, must pass a Green New Deal. We need a massive mobilization of every sector of society, from transportation to energy to agriculture — one that is just and equitable and on par with the scale of the problem. The Green New Deal will create millions of green jobs and keep Americans safe from climate change. Any presidential candidate hoping to earn the support of young people must sign on to the resolution forwarded by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey. We are done waiting.
Rebecca Krasky, St. Paul
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Amy Klobuchar is a bad boss. Amy Klobuchar is difficult to work for.
Even if that were true, so what?
Come on, people. There are much more important things to report on in terms of Klobuchar’s presidential bid. Why spend any time repeating and reinforcing sexist standards?
Focus on what matters.
Maureen Moo-Dodge, Mendota Heights
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Two suggestions for the Democrats as they choose a candidate to run against President Trump in 2020:
(1) What this country needs is a leader! We currently face several real emergencies: environmental collapse; unsustainable health care costs; public education; globalization; and — ninth or 10th on the list — border control. Meaningful solutions will require real leadership, not someone afraid to take a stand on controversial issues. A leader who would look good alongside the faces on Mount Rushmore.
(2) And what the Democrats need is someone who can beat Trump! The media lately are full of analysis of candidates and potential candidates classified by race, gender, age and where they fit on the political spectrum. But these are not the issues on the minds of voters when they step into the voting booth.
Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all elected and re-elected, occupied very different spots on the political spectrum and had mediocre leadership skills. But they had one thing in common: They all seemed likable. (Having never met them, I couldn’t say for sure, but they at least seemed likable on TV.) At the end of the day, U.S. presidential elections are not that different from elections for sixth-grade class president.
For the past two years, the Democrats have been claiming sexism and telling us that Trump got fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. Guess who got fewer votes than Trump? Mitt Romney! Very few voted for Trump, one of the least likable people ever elected president; they voted against the even less-likable candidate.
So this time around, Democrats, focus on leadership and likability. We’re counting on you!
John Trepp, Minneapolis