I have said this before, and I will say it again: I love politics. There’s something medieval about the brutal fight for power, a complex system built over hundreds of years of diplomacy and thousands of years of a war for governance. And yet, politics is constantly transforming, adapting, improving and diminishing the qualities of our lives.
And then there’s the 2020 Democratic primary. When the field of candidates grew to be the largest in history, I was naturally excited. Why have a war for power with three people when you can fight with 20? More people equals more tension, many storylines and better TV.
But that was a year ago. It’s been a thrilling cycle, to say the least, but even the most thrilled political junkies need to recognize when the cycle comes to a close. It’s time for Democratic candidates to drop out.
Normally, at this stage in the primary, they already would have. We’d be down to two or three — or if you really want to push it, four — candidates, and only if those politicians had a real shot at winning the primary. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t lie to yourself and the people who support you. You would drop out and try again in four years.
This year, that hasn’t been the case. While the primary field has winnowed significantly since the 20-candidate debate on June 26 and 27, there still remains far more candidates than there should at this stage.
Sure, Tom Steyer dropped out after a performance that wasn’t good enough in South Carolina, but even he should have left the race earlier. There was no possible way Steyer could have won the nomination, even if he got 100 percent in South Carolina.
And at this point, it’s just frustrating. These candidates are supposed to have the best interest of the public in mind. They are supposed to be fighting for democracy and to make this world a better place. (It may sound idealistic, but at least in theory, it’s true.)
By having no chance of winning, and staying in the race, they are doing the polar opposite. They are threatening the democratic process by raising the chances of a contested convention, which has hit 59 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast, far in the lead ahead of Bernie Sanders, who has a 27 percent chance of winning a majority of votes.
What does a contested convention mean? It means that the democratically-chosen candidate of the people — at this point, likely Sanders, but also possibly Joe Biden — could lose out on the nomination. The party could decide to go with a safer option, like Elizabeth Warren, who hasn’t placed in first or second in any of the four primaries and caucuses thus far. Is that what democracy is supposed to look like?
To be clear, that is why these candidates remain in the race. Those who should drop out — Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg (plus Tusli Gabbard, but no one cares about her) — are the ones who benefit the most from a contested convention.
They are strong contenders to emerge as the clean alternative to what could be a civil war between Sanders and Biden. They are the compromise candidates in a world that wants moderate or far-left.
There are only three candidates that should remain in the race: Sanders, Biden and Michael Bloomberg. While Bloomberg should never have entered the race and threatens democracy with his own brute-force, money-driven campaign, his strategy rests on Super Tuesday; there is a rational for his campaign to continue, despite no chance of victory.
So, it is clear, these candidates are remaining in the race for the possibility of their own benefit, not with the best intentions of the voters in mind. While subtle, staying in the race subverts American democracy in a way that no one should be proud of.
Please, hurry up and drop out.
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