2020 Governor Donald Trump Featured Montana Politics US Politics

I Can’t Vote for Any of the Democratic Candidates for President

I can’t vote for Kirsten Gillibrand because she once advocated the adoption of an English-only policy.

I can’t vote for Elizabeth Warren because she made the horrifically misguided decision to have a DNA test to “prove” her American Indian heritage.

I can’t vote for Cory Booker because he couldn’t be more wrong in his support for charter schools.

I can’t vote for Kamala Harris because she locked up too many people of color while she was a prosecutor in California.

I can’t vote for Sherrod Brown because he sent me roughly 12,539 e-mails begging for money during the last campaign.

I can’t vote for Bernie Sanders because his record on guns is incredibly problematic and the behavior of some of his supporters during the 2016 still stings.

Biden? Old.

Beto? Young.

It’s the easiest game in American politics, especially Democratic politics. While Republicans still support the worst and most corrupt American President since Warren Harding at overwhelming numbers, Democrats are already beginning the ritual dance of deciding which candidates they simply CANNOT support because of a flawed position or value from the past.

It seems like there is nothing more satisfying for Democrats than preëmptively deciding that one or more candidate for office simply cannot be the Democratic nominee because she held or holds a viewpoint that is somehow an absolute litmus test for a candidate.

In the 2020 elections, whether for governor of Montana, President of the United States, or city commissioner, I’d like to challenge Democrats to move away from the politics of exclusion and embrace the idea that our job in the primaries is to choose the best candidate, not a perfect one. We should absolutely choose candidates who hold progressive values and we should even consider the dirty word “electability,” but in this cycle, let’s use our collective and personal voices to find the candidates we need to take back control of Washington and protect the gains we’ve made in Montana.

And the best path to do that is to focus our energy on asking candidates to explain problematic votes and positions, not to assume the worst. I’d remind Democratic voters who close the door on candidates because they once took a problematic position on immigration in 2008 that Barack Obama and Steve Bullock weren’t exactly champions on LGBT issues then, nor were 60% of our friends and neighbors in Montana in 2006.

People—including politicians—can grow, change, and even improve over time. Let’s spend our energy sussing out whether they’ve grown from earlier bad votes or, even, stunning as it might seem, whether we can accept that a person can be an excellent President even if we don’t agree with all of her views.

Instead of spending our energy tearing down candidates we don’t agree with on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, maybe we should spend our energy asking those candidates and the people who support them what we have in common.

And we, as Democrats, absolutely must have common goals in 2020: to never let the divisiveness that rocked our party in 2016 lead to Donald Trump assuming a second term and to fight like hell to make sure that Greg Gianforte doesn’t assume the governor’s chair to destroy reproductive freedom for women, public schools for our children, unions for our workers, and public lands for all Montanans.

I—we—can’t let that happen. Let’s try to remember that as campaign season gets off to an even earlier start than usual.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • Mr Pogreba points to a serious issue. In the same spirit, I would offer the view that, so far, I haven’t seen a Democratic candidate yet that I WOULDN’T vote for.

    • I’m with you! It will be hard to choose one to support above the others at this point – they are all so much more promising than what we currently have in the W.H.

    • Same here. I have — with some regret — given up my idea that there are some good Republicans out there hiding. That the Republicans have enabled the current Thug-ocracy says volumes. So far I like most things about ALL the Democrats in view… even the relatively unknown Buttigieg who is quite inspiring. I wish we had open primaries where we could first vote our personal choice, then vote our politically most likely to win. Maybe some day…

  • Let’s leave our perceptions of electability out of the equation as well. We have shown frequently that we don’t know who is electable and you could almost define it as supporting the candidate you think everyone else is voting for. Support the best candidate with progressive values and electability will follow.

  • The counter argument is that 22 months ahead of election is the time to weigh the pros and cons of a candidate. I had reservations about Hillary Clinton who, at this point in 2015 had a presumed lock on the nomination. I voted for Sanders in the primary and when he dropped out I ultimately voted for Clinton. The Democrats May have over 20 candidates in the first debate. Let’s have a forthright conversation about who is the right mix of qualifications, and who can beat the Republican candidate, Trump or whomever it might be.

    • I didn’t mean to suggest we shouldn’t debate and discuss the candidates, but we should end this way we have of closing doors.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • I’ve seen or heard of a democratic candidate worth voting for. First we had a cheating hudband, Clinton & then a Muslim importing more of his kind into Minnesota & Michigan. Putin is grinning from ear to ear. Only mental cases that believe anything on the communist news network would vote for any of the current candiates. I use to be a democratic but have since wised up & switched. Thank God.

    • My God. It’s been a while since I’ve visited here and then to read that piece of nonsense above, that many of you believe is gospel. The Montanans I know are a conservative bunch. They aren’t transplants from anywhere, really. Their families settled your state. So I want to congratulate Greg Harden for his good common sense and departure from the left. I did the same. The left has become so vile and hateful, actually, hate full, and are so desperate for control of the masses, they’ve forgotten that real people who support them with their taxes and efforts, are going to resist the progressive/socialist movement. And they don’t realize they are crazed. In the south they (we) would say, “They’re et up with it.” Spelling is correct. Bernie has ruined Vermont. Ask a Vermonter. You’re going to do that too, with the help of this communist rag. You buy this with money from your pockets?

      • This comment is amazing in its ignorance.

        The two Republicans we’ve elected to Congress are transplants. My family, though, has been here since the 1880s. Who is the settler?

        And please tell me more about the Vermonters who know Sanders has ruined the state. Didn’t 66% of them just send him back to the Senate?

      • Mazie, a little history, Montana in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was in fact a very Progressive State. Montana and those who founded it were leaders in the larger American Progressive movement that gave birth to some of the greatest American Progressives including Rep Fighting Bob La Follette (Wis, R), Rep La Guardia (NY, R) and Montana’s Rep Jeannette Rankin (R) who was elected by Montanans BEFORE women could vote in the U.S….and of course Teddy Roosevelt (R) who founded the original Progressive Party. You see the Republicans were the progressives at that time, Montana was founded and settled by social progressives who immigrated here and voted for the progressive party who happened to be the Republican Party. The modern Republican Party are far to the right now, it’s not your grandpa’s Republican Party. Those who founded Montana may have been “Republican” but they were not “Conservatives”. Hell, there were a few Socialists Mayors elected in Montana in the early 1900’s too, and the American Labor movement was sparked right in Montana!… not a very Conservative history really. Lots of folks united as one, pooling resources working hard together, keeping the corporations and greedy rich in check is the history that actually built our great state.

    • You are sadly misled, Greg. Only uninformed people ignore all that is happening around us, and you probably watch Faux News.

      ANY one of the Dem candidates is better than all of the R’s collectively on their best day.
      Thank God you are only one voter.

    • Wow that’s the most uneducated bit of ramble I’ve seen in a minute. You used to be a “democratic”. Which Muslim was importing his “kind”? I’m a white American Muslim in Montana. I never heard of the importing that your babbling about. You probably should have stayed in school, or at least paid enough attention to know that democratic is a form of government and that Democrat is a member of the Democratic Party (which used to be the racist one). Were you a Dixiecrat?

  • I’d say electability is about who you think those who didn’t vote in the Democratic primary might vote for, and if the goal is to win, that is as valid a criterion as any.

  • I agree with Pogreba overall point with the exception of calling Democrats exclusionary. The diversity of the Democratic party should be seen as an asset that requires a commitment to politically flexible discipline so necessary compromises can be achieved sooner so that the legislative business at hand can progress with reasonable momentum.

    We need to be better at listening, doing our own homework and demand the media does a more professional job of asking the right questions. Anyone who says “I can’t” isn’t trying. We must make sure we learn about the candidates beyond sound bites, rumor and innuendo. Pogreba’s use of “I can’t” in his article reminded me of a kid unwilling to try new food his Mom put out for supper.

    We do have to remember the corporate media’s first priority is to make money. Secondly, yes they do have an agenda. Third, corporate media organizations do have their own demographics for whom they cater. We need to be independent thinkers, do our own homework, and be fair. If something smells, look closer.

  • Perfect is the enemy of good. Right now, I think there are several very good Democratic candidates with more to announce. Of course, 2016 might have convinced the majority of GOP voters that the worst best when it comes to picking their candidate.

    I expect a lot of noise and dissonance over the next year and a half. It’s difficult to shut this all out, but I’ve made an attempt by closing my FB account six months ago and ignoring any mainstream news article that has “Twitter” in the headline.

  • I hope all Democrats will agree that disenfranchising maybe 20,000 Greens in MT, 7000 of whom risked their jobs and probably marriages signing the petitions, was a very bad idea. The issues mentioned in Ms Keenan’s suits (or were they just “recommendations”to the Democrats and paranoid Republicans on the court?) have been argued many times in many states, with the decisions always favoring the one really democratic party trying to gain a foothold in this anarchic jungle of lies and privilege. If Democrats actually read and understood the Green Platform and values, they would either join the Greens or force the Democratic Party to adopt them as well. On peace, denuclearization, and global warming, the Democrats have proven as bad or even worse than the Republicans were 20 years ago. 40 years ago, everyone supported environmental protection and clean energy. All the stuff about global warming was already known, and has been since long before 1989, or whenever the politicians first got hold of it….

    • Here’s my frustration. If the Greens really have the level of support they claim to, why can’t they legally get the signatures themselves? After all, didn’t some GOP operatives manage to do it in about 12 days?

  • Since this blog is accepting comments again, I’m curious if I will continue to be censored for my dissenting criticism of Democrats.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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