To The Democratic Candidates: I Propose A Pledge

The 2020 presidential campaign is now into the voting stages, and the Democrats’ unintentional efforts to hand the contest to Trump have kicked into overdrive.

A relentless string of bad choices in the Clinton campaign gave us Trump in the first place, and it appears her successors are determined to follow in her footsteps. We never needed more than one candidate to begin with. Trump is THE. LEAST. POPULAR. PERSON. EVER to run for U.S. President. Anyone can beat him. 25 candidates running against each other . . . who knows.

But the size of the Democratic field is the least of our worries, because being better than Donald Trump is not nearly enough. Being able to beat Donald Trump in a head-to-head campaign, whether fair or otherwise, is not enough. The next president needs to do a whole lot more than clean up Trump’s mess. That alone would take a superhero, with a maximum of eight years to finish the job, but that’s only the beginning. If our next president manages by 2028 to get us back to where we were in 2016, another Trump will be right around the corner. Maybe one who actually shares his name.

The next American president faces the colossal and unprecedented task of turning back the clock on decades and generations of American decline. Social decline, political decline, moral decline, intellectual decline. Conservative, liberal, anything else you call yourself — if your great-grandparents could see the America of 2020, they would be ashamed to call it home. Since the middle of the last century, we’ve gotten worse at everything except funneling wealth to the wealthy. We’ve killed our trees, we’ve poisoned our air and water, we’ve debased our popular culture and our standards of discourse. We’ve made enemies of each other, over silly differences of opinion. We’ve forced our children to grow up uneducated and stupid, by neglecting and depriving our schools.

If you think it doesn’t apply to you, pick up any book written before 1950 and count the number of words you have to look up in the dictionary. In the first three pages.

We need a new class of leader. The Republicans have NO leaders, only demagogues and cowards. The Democrats appear not to have anyone who can measure up either. Running for President, we have a bunch of people whose names we’ve already forgotten, and six people who keep trying to convince us that they’re the best ones to face off against Trump. As a justification for wanting to be President, that’s something like believing you can play in the NBA because you know how to dribble a ball.

But if you’re one of the self-chosen few facing off in the first round of primaries, or your name is Michael Bloomberg, and you really want to have what it takes — you can start by holding yourself to a higher standard. Become a leader who embodies the best of what America has left to offer, in mind, heart and spirit. Become a leader who doesn’t merely avoid scandal, but sets a moral example for the rest of us. Become a leader who is accountable to those you intend to lead.

Off the top of my head, here’s a few things any person running for President should be able to sign his or her name to in a heartbeat, without thinking twice. Whether anyone in the 2020 race actually would, I honestly don’t know.

I pledge to direct the Department Of Justice to overturn the current guidance that a sitting president can’t be indicted.

I pledge to respect the authority of working scientists on all scientific issues.

I pledge to tell the truth and nothing but the truth in all public statements, and to withhold the full truth only in matters of personal privacy or national security.

I pledge to take proper care of our active service members and retired veterans.

I pledge to reject every form of discrimination, and respect all Americans equally. RESPECT. ALL. EQUALLY.

I pledge that no relatives of mine will serve in top jobs in my administration.

I pledge to pay all campaign contractors in full within 30 days of receiving an invoice.

I pledge to respect the United States Congress and the federal judiciary as coequal bodies of government, and to honor every subpoena issued for me by any federal court or congressional committee, and to direct all members of my administration to do the same.

I pledge to maintain thoughtful and respectful standards of discourse in all my public statements, in my dealings with the press, and in all my social media posts.

In recognition of the enormous responsibilities I will undertake as President, I pledge to work longer and harder than the average American worker, and take less vacation time.

I pledge to honor my oath of office and defend the U.S. Constitution to the utmost of my abilities, every day and every hour that I serve as President.

I threw out 11 pledges before I started slowing down. Others could probably add hundreds more in a few hours. But this list or something similar is below the minimal standard we should be requiring of our country’s leaders. It’s only a starting point.

Trump can’t sign his name to any of these. Is any other candidate in this race ready and willing to commit to all of them?

If not, things are fairly likely to get worse before they get better.

May the best argument win. And let us shake hands when it’s done.

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