2020 hopefuls: Democrats spoilt for choices

If Donald Trump has achieved anything that could be described as constructive it’s been to help create a political climate that has produced no fewer than 25 declared and likely Democrat contenders for the 2020 election, the opening primaries for which are scheduled for June in Florida. Democrats will be spoilt for choice, but the packed field will thin out as image consultants, policy pundits, opinion pollsters, and fundraisers put shoulders to wheels and the donation dollars roll from one name to the next. This is, the journalist Greg Palast reminds us, the best democracy money can buy.

Former vice president Joe Biden has yet to declare, but is this the time for yet another man who — allegedly — can’t keep his hands to himself? Probably not. Bernie Sanders, who lost out to Mrs Clinton in 2016, is back with not only renewed gusto but also $18m (€15.92m) given by more than half a million Democrat donors in the first weeks of his campaign. The tectonic plates in the politics of most of the Western democracies, including the US, are shifting, but is America ready for a president unashamed to call himself a socialist? Probably not, and certainly not if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who addressed both houses of the Dáil yesterday — has anything to do with it, which she undoubtedly will. The Democratic Party, she says, has no space for socialism.

Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are ahead in the women’s race. Both are promising wealth taxes. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Tamil Indian parents, champions marijuana legalisation and

green policies, while Warren — once a Republican and now said to be everything Mrs Clinton pretended to be — majors on affordable housing, consumer protection

and a promise to break the power of the Big Tech corporations.

A name to watch — and learn how to pronounce — in “they’ve-come-from-nowhere” handicap is Pete Buttigieg, the youngish mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a rust-belt state badly hit by de-industrialisation. Christian, gay, a Rhodes Scholar and Afghan war veteran, his signature policy is the abolition of the Electoral College voting system, a hangover from the 18th century that can, as in 2000 and 2016, give the prize to the runner-up in the popular poll. A change too radical for Americans to think about this time? Probably.

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