I haven’t written about politics for a while because (1) it’s depressing and (2) not much has changed.
The proper thing to do is focus on the 2018 election. But despite surprising recent Democratic wins, I’m pessimistic that either Congressional chamber will change majorities. Given the huge imbalance in Senate races — the Democrats have to defend 26 seats, the Republicans only eight — I can imagine the Democrats losing ground. And the Demos need to gain 25 seats to control the House of Representatives, a formidable challenge when so many districts are gerrymandered.
So I’m looking ahead to 2020.
Oprah Winfrey’s “New Day on the Horizon” speech at the Golden Globe Awards spurred hopes she would run for president. This week she said she wouldn’t (yay — enough with the celebrity presidents!), which has given rise to the question, “If not her, who?” Joe Biden’s name comes up a lot. And on January 17, the New York Times listed six current senators as potential candidates: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar. A few governors have been mentioned too: Andrew Cuomo of New York, Dan Malloy of Connecticut, and former governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.
Sorry, but none of the above for me.
Here’s the Democrat I’d like to see run in 2020 [clears throat to prolong the suspense]:
Tammy Duckworth, senator from Illinois.
I have no idea whether she has any interest. I have no idea whether she has skeletons in her closet. Nor do I know what she’s like off-camera.
Here’s what I do know. To win in 2020, the Democrats will need to appeal to multiple constituencies: their identity politics left; their Bernie Bro left; their Clintonite center; plus independents and non-authoritarian conservatives. I think Duckworth can strongly appeal to them all.
On the identity politics side, Duckworth is female, disabled, and half-Asian (her mother was a Thai national of Chinese descent). She is also pregnant and will become the first US Senator to give birth while in office.
On the liberal side, she received a 100% rating in 2017 from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and a 7% rating from the National Rifle Association the year before. She also scores well with liberal health, education, and labor groups.
On the centrist side, Duckworth has raised substantial funds from the legal and securities and investments industries.
And her military service — she flew Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq and was severely wounded on November 12, 2004, losing her legs and partial use of her right arm — should earn her the trust, respect, and votes of independents and conservatives, even if they disagree with her on issues.
There’s no question she can hold her own politically. She beat Republican incumbent Mark Kirk in 2016 to reclaim Barack Obama’s Senate seat for the Democrats, and just last week she mocked Trump as a draft dodger after he accused the Democrats of not caring about the military during the recent government shutdown. She will not be intimidated.
If you know something about Duckworth that would disqualify her, let me know. Otherwise, maybe this can be the start of the Draft Tammy movement!
(For additional background, check out this Mother Jones article on Duckworth from 2012.)