Democrats should stop obsessing about electability

Democrats should stop obsessing about electability

A debate is raging among Democrats about which candidate can beat President TrumpDonald TrumpFBI says California extremist may have targeted Newsom House Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Facebook to dial back political content on platform MORE.  In the wake of the Iowa caucuses debacle and the rise of former Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegOn The Money: Reddit traders cause Wall Street havoc | Powell: Inflation fears should not impede more coronavirus aid | NJ lawmakers press for SALT cap repeal in next relief package Senate panel advances Buttigieg nomination in 21-3 vote Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders says he's raised .8 million for charity after mittens meme Former Sanders press secretary: Further means-testing of COVID-19 aid 'unconscionable' Leahy expected to preside over impeachment after health scare MORE (I-Vt.), and in the face of a seemingly weakened Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Science denialism in the new administration Jill Biden to offer input on helping reunite separated immigrant families: report MORE, who until know had been the presumptive frontrunner, the hysteria forming around the notion of electability is both expected as well as unnecessary and unhelpful.

For patriots who yearn for a real president who respects our democracy and our Constitution; who knows the president should lead all of America and not only  galvanize some of America with fear, hate and racism; and who are sick of the corruption, criminality and chaos, this is the coffee cup election: We will vote for a coffee cup if it means beating Donald Trump.

The frenzied nervousness is expected as Democrats are famous for bed-wetting (as famously put by Obama advisor David Plouffe), second-guessing and doomsday predicting. It is also forgivable in the face of a president who, no matter how scandalous, lawless, corrupt, dangerous and impeachable his behavior, never seems to be held accountable by his Republican lemmings or his 5th Avenue supporters


But the panic is also unnecessary and unhelpful. It is unnecessary because if Democrats do the hard work of educating, organizing, mobilizing and energizing our base as well as independent voters who cannot envision another four years of Trump, the numbers indicate that he can be beaten. 

It is unhelpful because panic begets panic and it leads to divisions and recriminations, which in turn will push us to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

We have a great field of candidates. In the most recent national Quinnipiac poll, all of the top Democratic contenders beat Trump by wide margins. Will there be a hefty and spirited debate about whether it should be Bernie or Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenReddit traders cause Wall Street havoc by buying GameStop Elizabeth Warren weighs in on the GameStop stock surge The Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis MORE (D-Mass.) or a Buttigieg, Biden, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg or Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Klobuchar says Senate impeachment trial of former official is constitutional: 'We have precedent' MORE (D-Minn.)? 

Will there be a divide between those who want a progressive and those who wish for a moderate at the top? 

Do moderate Dems believe that only a pragmatist can attract independents and disaffected Republicans and that a Sanders or Warren candidacy would endanger the party with the easy attacks of socialism being thrown by Trump and Republicans?

Are there progressives who believe only a candidate who will bring about big structural change can attract the important coalition of young people and new voters to the Democratic fold?


The answer to all the above is yes. And that is fine for now. That is what primaries are for. That is what healthy debates should be about, and we should not be afraid to have them. 

The eventual nominee will, by virtue of having survived the process of the primary, be the strongest candidate to take on Donald Trump. But we – everyone who believes our country is at stake – have a responsibility as well. It cannot be all up to the nominee. 

Of course, the candidate and his or her vice president must be able to reach all voters with a winning and inspirational message. Of course, they must articulate an inclusive vision. They must not take anyone or any vote for granted. And they must be able to convince voters that they will be a president for everyone in the country. 

But in the end, we must do our part as well. 

We simply cannot pretend to have the luxury of demanding courtship and wooing to our heart’s content. 

We must commit to putting aside recriminations, retaliations, egos, sensibilities, hurt feelings, our preferences and ideologies, and real or perceived offenses by the Democratic nominee. We must keep our eyes on the prize — winning the White House. 

Any of the top Democratic contenders would make a much better president than the inept, unfit, undemocratic and embarrassingly un-american commander-in-chief we now have. 

We must, as Mayor Pete says, Vote Blue no matter who. We can fall in love with any candidate, but we must then fall in line with the nominee. If we don’t, and Trump wins, we will deserve it. 

Donald Trump just came off a bruising impeachment battle. Some would say it did not have any effect on Trump’s standing and that it may have helped him as his approval rating has gone up (though it has yet to hit the 50 percent mark). 

But he is a badly bruised president. With such a strong economy, his approval ratings should be in the 70s. They are not, because the economy is not working for everybody.

They are not because he is loathed by more than half the country, who have felt attacked, disrespected, disenfranchised and unsafe since Trump took office. 

They are not because many of the voters who did not come out to vote in 2016 have vowed to make it to the polls in 2020 if it means beating Trump.

Since 2016, four million American-born Latinos have turned 18 and are eligible to vote, making Latinos the largest ethnic minority group eligible to vote in the 2020 election. These are young people eager to put out of the White House the president who put brown kids in cages.

It’s clear that Trump has not only not learned his lesson. In fact, he seems emboldened anew to act even more unscrupulously and is almost daring Republicans and America to try to do something about it. 

Republicans won’t. But good patriots will. We must and will unite behind the Democratic ticket, whomever they are, in order to make Trump accountable and restore democracy and decency to our country.

Even if Donald Trump is running against a coffee cup, we will vote for the coffee cup to do just that.

Maria Cardona is a longtime Democratic strategist and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee for the party's 2020 convention. She is a principal at Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based political consulting agency, and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.