It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process

It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process
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At the height of the Democratic presidential primary process, millions of voters were intrigued and excited by the campaigns of candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Klobuchar on defense as Floyd death puts spotlight on record MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSenate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-N.Y.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerWarren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers Senators ask DeVos to adjust FAFSA form due to the coronavirus pandemic MORE (D-N.J.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharLiberal group asks Klobuchar to remove herself from VP consideration because of prosecutorial record Klobuchar on defense as Floyd death puts spotlight on record Officer involved in George Floyd death charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter MORE (D-Minn.); former mayors Julian CastroJulian CastroCastro, Warren, Harris to speak at Texas Democratic virtual convention Julián Castro to become senior advisor for Voto Latino It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE of San Antonio and Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE of South Bend, Ind; Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic MORE (D-Hawaii) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas); former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Andrew Yang endorses Biden in 2020 race MORE; and entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis McConnell challenger on how Yang endorsement could help him MORE.

These were candidates who reflected the diverse Democratic electorate. They truly could identify with many voters in a number of positive ways and, ultimately, gained their support. The large number of candidates — more than two dozen for a while — seemed to underscore the party’s struggle with fragmentation throughout this process.

Early on, the Democratic candidates were impressive, richly diverse, highly experienced and accomplished. They were men and women who fought against racism, sexism and bigotry; served the nation with distinction in the military; worked on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised; and held office in governments or ran businesses.

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During that primary process, the Trump White House must have been worried about facing someone popular and charismatic such as Harris, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang or Gabbard. These candidates, along with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe battle of two Cubas Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Ro Khanna Democrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA MORE (I-Vt.), certainly spoke to the diversity and youth movement infusing the Democratic Party.

And yet, toward the end of that curious primary process, just four candidates were left standing: 77-year-old Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Liberal group asks Klobuchar to remove herself from VP consideration because of prosecutorial record MORE, the former vice president; 77-year-old Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE, the former New York mayor; 78-year-old Sanders; and 70-year-old Warren. And from among those white septuagenarians came … drum roll, please ... Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee. It should be noted that Gabbard, 38, also remained in the race until March, though with a lower profile than the others.

How could this happen?

If we think back to just before Super Tuesday on March 3, Biden seemed to be falling so far off the party’s radar screen that some expected him to pull out of the race. 

But then, as if by some political sleight of hand, the young, diverse, talented slate of candidates had completely disappeared in a puff of stale, white smoke. When that smoke dispersed, there stood Biden, alone on the stage with his awkward smile, preparing to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE in November. Gone even were Biden’s contemporaries, first Bloomberg, then Warren and finally Sanders. 

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When Hollywood finally returns to work, maybe a creative screenwriter will offer up a script in which a pro-Trump double agent infiltrates the hierarchy of the Democratic establishment and convinces them to make decisions that ultimately benefit the Trump campaign.

Seriously, what else explains the process that would sweep aside a diverse slate of candidates who spoke to millions of Gen X and millennial voters, in favor of Biden with his gaffes and political baggage? The fact is, the United States is more than ready for a female president. It is more than ready for another president of color. It is more than ready for a president from the LGBTQ community. It certainly would welcome a ticket that combines any or all such candidates.

From a liberal perspective, on paper at least, the Democratic primary process offered up several outstanding candidates who might have broken the female, color and/or sexual-identity barriers. That won’t happen this time — although Biden still could choose a woman of color or candidate with other diverse qualities as his running mate.

Still, many progressive Democratic voters must be disappointed, wondering what happened to the promise they foresaw in late 2018 and early 2019 when candidates such as Warren, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Buttigieg and Booker announced they were in the running. 

No matter what the polling might say at the moment, I challenge anyone to find a majority of Democrats who believe in their hearts that Biden has a chance to defeat Trump in November. (Some Democrats still might not believe that Biden will be their nominee come fall.)   

Yes, something certainly appears to have sabotaged the Democrats’ best laid plans for big change come November, and the party now seems to be painted into a corner of self-created despair. 

Douglas MacKinnon was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. He is the author of “The Dawn of a Nazi Moon: Book One.”