The minnows are being culled from the congested field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and their legacy, for lack of a better term, will not be flattering. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) abandoned what can only be categorized as a vanity run after he completely failed to register so much as a blip on the national radar. While any fallout from Moulton’s folly won’t extend beyond his own political career, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s now-expired campaign had more impact on the party at large. The consequences of Inslee’s short-lived candidacy may prove particularly negative for Democrats moving forward.
Little Guppy, Big Burden
A smaller fish can provide a great service to his or her party in the primary process by pressing key issues of vital importance to regular Americans that are not being addressed by higher-profile candidates in the race. In this manner, the underdog can help focus the party’s general election message and sharpen the skirmishing skills of the candidate who does eventually capture the party’s nomination.
Unfortunately for Democrats, Inslee did not take this route. Instead of stressing matters that resonate with citizens across the nation such as jobs and the economy, Inslee ran on climate change – an issue to which the progressive Dem orthodoxy already pays a rigid obeisance.
As The Seattle Times noted before his departure from the race, Inslee’s “unceasing calls for a climate debate” helped lead leftist cable news networks MSNBC and CNN to schedule “climate town halls” with 2020 Dem contenders for September. Upon announcing that he had reached 130,000 unique donors a few days before ending his bid, Inslee gushed that his campaign had “put the climate crisis front and center in the 2020 race.”
He was boasting that he took a totem of a progressive ideology that brooks no dissent and helped move it to the forefront of his party’s presidential nominating process. As a longshot to begin with, it was unlikely that Inslee would ever have to personally deal with the burden this would place on the Democratic nominee in heartland states. By forcing top tier Dems to showcase their devotion to a hard blue issue rather than hone their outreach to undecided Americans worried about their next paycheck, Inslee has decisively damaged his party’s hopes for winning next year.
Heading For General Disaster
And so we see a leading contender, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) – who posed a serious challenge to anointed titan Hillary Clinton in 2016 by running on issues that affected working Americans – rolling out a radical climate change plan just as Inslee exits the scene. Not a single chief rival will take Sanders to task for the proposal’s sticker-shock price tag of $16 trillion, for they cannot. Thus they will all be tainted by this excessive proposal that means nothing to a blue-collar worker in Michigan or Pennsylvania.
Jay Inslee gets to drop out of a race he was never going to win and comfortably run for re-election as governor of his blue state. As he does so, he can bask in the praise of purity-spiraling progressives who will hail him for the “integrity” he showed during his quixotic presidential run. After all, he never wavered regarding an issue on which no top Dem contender can dare disagree with him. As profiles in courage go, it’s a bit lacking.
Inslee will never have to step into the ring and throw a punch directly at Trump. But he has helped assure that the 2020 Dem champion who will go face-to-face with the sitting president will be a lot less fit for the fight. Such is the high cost when presidential primary minnows pull a party away from the people in the name of ideological purity.