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Portable Bohemia endorses Amy Klobuchar

The Portable Bohemia editorial board endorses Amy Klobuchar for president. The choice was not easy. There is much to like about each of the top candidates. In each case there are also things that give one pause. The debate was contentious, heated, and at times almost acrimonious. I shudder to speculate about the ugly turn it could have taken if there had been more than one person in the room.

Amy Klobuchar first hit my radar during the Kavanugh hearing, when she showed herself to be smart, poised, and well-spoken (hope I'm not tripping on any tropes here). She was tough but fair, and she did not back down when bullied. And she did it without grandstanding or playing to the cameras. Above all she took her responsibility seriously. These qualities are on display in her campaign for president. They are qualities I want to see in the next occupant of the Oval Office.

Klobuchar's website touts a Vanderbilt University study that ranked her the most effective Democratic member in the last Congress and a Medill News Service report that ranked her first in the Senate with the most bills led or cosponsored enacted into law in the 114th Congress. This track record should not be dismissed or belittled, even while we harbor no illusion about the challenges facing any effort to enact substantive bipartisan legislation if Republicans retain control of the Senate with Mitch McConnell as leader.

For Democrats, committed activists and ordinary citizens alike, the imperative in 2020 is to defeat Donald Trump. Turnout and enthusiasm figure to be sky high in blue districts and states. That alone will not bring us home. Record voter turnout in safely blue states will be negated if we cannot win over enough voters in key swing districts and states that will determine the outcome in the electoral college.

Democrats took back the House in 2018 by fielding smart, impressive candidates who won running as moderates in swing districts running. More ballyhooed progressive wins came in safely blue districts. I am glad those progressives won, and I value their contributions, but it was not their victories that flipped the House. I have said this before and say it now: the Democratic Party and the country will do best if people like April Spanberger (VA) and Mikie Sherrill (NJ) become the face of the party. Amy Klobuchar fits right in.

The Democratic candidate has the opportunity to bring on board Never Trump conservatives, some formerly, others still nominally Republican, and Trump-tolerant voters who dislike Trump but like his policies or simply dislike Democrats more. Some of them will do more than just vote for a Democratic candidate who gives them reason to. They will campaign enthusiastically against Trump. Amy Klobuchar is a candidate these conservative voters can support while respectfully disagreeing on policies and issues where she has the support of a broad swath of the Democratic Party.

"My plan," vows Sen. Amy Klobuchar, putting on her best Trumpian air, "is to build a beauuuuuuuutiful blue wall [made up of Democrats, independents, and even moderate Republicans]…and make Donald Trump pay for it!" (Bryant, In chill of New Hampshire)

Amy Klobuchar is straightforward about her agenda. She does not deal in extravagant promises she will not be able to deliver. Many citizens appreciate that. On climate, Klobuchar is a cosponsor of a Green New Deal, signed a No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, will bring the US back into the International Climate Change Agreement, and will bring back and strengthen clean power and gas mileage rules the Obama administration put in place. She wants to rebuild infrastructure, including smart climate infrastructure. She supports comprehensive immigration reform and opposes the "Muslim ban" and Trump restrictions on refugees while advocating a strong vetting process for visitors and refugees. She will rebuild the State Department and rein in defense spending while providing for veterans' needs and maintaining a strong national defense. She supports the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. She will modernize the relationship with Cuba and lift the embargo and travel bans. (Much in this paragraph is drawn from Amy Klobuchar on the issues at Politico.)

This is a strong and I would argue progressive agenda, although it does not go as far as some progressives would like. It is in broad strokes the Democratic agenda. The difference lies in how Klobuchar approaches it, pragmatically, realistically, working with others to get things done. This may not usher in a new revolutionary era. It will however make a difference in the lives of many people, and she can make a profound difference in the direction of our country.

Recognition of the need to work with others with whom we do not agree should not be taken for weakness or being soft on principles and values. As was demonstrated during the Kavanaugh hearing, Amy Klobuchar is, as my old history professor used to say, a real tough baby. She will not back down from the impeached president on the debate stage, if he has the courage to debate her, and she will not back down from the radical-right ideologues who will continue to be a force in Republican circles even after Trump.

The endorsement for Klobuchar comes with no illusion about her prospects. She remains a long shot. I endorse her now because she can defeat Donald Trump and because I would rather see her in the Oval Office than any other candidate in the race.

The defeat of Donald Trump remains the imperative. I will enthusiastically support Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren if one of them is on the ballot in November. If the nominee is Biden, Bloomberg, or some unforeseen other candidate, my support will come more with grim determination than enthusiasm but still with all the energy and diligence I can muster. Steadier minds than mine have opined that a second Trump term will be the end of America's constitutional republic. This is not hyperbole. These are the stakes.

Keep the faith.

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