Democratic hopefuls lack charisma for the 2020 race

Trumpism has emerged as an alternative to conservatism and liberalism, where the truth has multiple layers and rolls off the back of the presidency's many scandals.


Allan Jacob

Published: Tue 24 Sep 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Sep 2019, 10:23 PM

The Democratic race, if anyone has been following the primaries, has been singularly uninspiring and boring. When I mean uninspiring, I mean staid and dreadfully predictable - no amusement, zilch entertainment, zero humour, and very, very serious.
All candidates are good speakers - they choose the right words, they hammer away at their favourite nemesis Donald Trump, but lack the grand vision to build a new America. In other words, they are out of the frame in the new political scene where Trumpism is the reality.
Trumpism has emerged as an alternative to conservatism and liberalism, where the truth has multiple layers and rolls off the back of the presidency's many scandals.
In this scenario, moral grandstanding by leading candidates like former vice-president Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris have taken the fun out of the early stage of the campaign. The shtick creeps up on those watching the show.
Panache and pizzazz, a certain flamboyance that makes the average politician take the leap to infamy or greatness, is missing from the debates and road shows. There's no aura surrounding the candidates as they try to be transparent with the truth and play holier-than-thou avataars.
The Democrats are yet to master the art of controversy like Trump did three years ago and continues to do so at the fag end of his presidency. He was 70 back then, the wild child of canvassing and the brash enfant terrible of American politics.
The 19 Democratic candidates left in the fray for the 2020 election are unappealing while Trump has given it new meaning by taking it to elevated heights of polemical grandeur. What happened to the drama of 2016, I wonder, the show-stopping stuff that only showmen of the calibre of Trump can provide.
Perhaps it's the dumbing down of elections, but what about the enthusiasm of the political class? Even as they take up cudgels against Trump's policies, the Dems are not going for the kill and are wary of hurting the other.
To understand the phenomena of the Dems being nice to each other, I trawled some of my most frequented groups on WhatsApp where there are debates aplenty. I didn't take long to find answers.
"After having a long time to come up with a formidable candidate, all they (the Democrats) could come up with are three old, white looking folks with extreme ideas that only work in a socialist country. The Dems have no answers to issues, they only target 'T' (Trump)," said one participant.
And to drive home his point he described the top three (Biden, Sanders and Warren) as 'creepy, crazy and wacko'. That description was both racist and ageist but he didn't care since he sported his political blinkers with pride. Another countered and said Trump had all three traits which made him unelectable for a second term.
T's the word, so I took a closer look at Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris and realised they had nothing new on offer. Biden looks tired and is trying hard to emerge from the shadow of the Obama presidency and become his own candidate. He is on the wrong side of seventy (76) and is embroiled in a controversy involving his son Hunter's role in a Ukrainian business deal which 'T' is trying to rake up. "I will beat him like a drum," he said recently of Trump's alleged attempts to corner him.
Sanders seems jaded at 78 and it appears that his best shot at the Democratic candidacy or the presidency is over. His progressive ideas on free everything - healthcare, education, welfare - are the most mass-friendly but some of them find more resonance through Elizabeth Warren, who has also come out openly against big tech and industry, and is the most extreme Left candidate of the lot. Kamala Harris had a dream start to the campaign but is now in also-ran mode.
The top three Dems have been insipid at this stage of the campaign. Anti-Trumpism has served as an ideology for the trio (Biden, Sanders and Warren) to exist - the lifeblood or oxygen for the Democratic campaign. The president may lack character, but has queer charisma, and remains the man to beat next year.
The Democratic field is still wide open as contenders drop out one by one. A gruelling campaign will make it easier for the president. The sooner this is over and a winner emerges, the better the Democratic chances are for a clear shot at the heart of Trumpism.

More news from OPINION