I don’t know if Senator Klobuchar should be President – yet – but I do believe that someone with her intellect and values should replace the demagogue that now holds the office.
Joe Biden has the combination of experience, values and knowledge that would enable a productive and successful presidency, but his age is a factor that could, and perhaps should, mitigate against his being the nominee of the Democratic party. Bernie Sanders could have been very good for American democracy and advanced many socially progressive values. However, his rhetorical style and substance may not have worn well among too many citizens, particularly conservatives, and, now he shares the burden of age with Joe Biden. I could support either Biden or Sanders if they have the wisdom to anticipate a single term with Klobuchar as their vice-president.
This raises and interesting question as to what would constitute a “productive” and “successful” presidency? Productivity and success are highly subjective, which is to say they are both a matter of opinion. Yet a response to the question seems to demand a search for something resembling a sense of common values about productivity and success. Years ago I was pretty comfortable defining success as the progressive realization of a worthwhile ideal or goal. I am now less sure about that primarily because the notion of idealism is in disrepute for me and for many others. When idealism is juxtaposed with pragmatism, I find myself more comfortable with pragmatism, even while retaining some nostalgia for the notion that some things are right and some things are wrong; some things are good and some things are evil. I like the notion of liberty but understand that liberty cannot exist in the absence of consideration for other people. Unlimited liberty to pursue dominance over others is also evil. Productivity for the Presidency would be to lead the country away from our current morass of partisan belligerence toward a more civil, less polarized, perception of America’s future and global responsibility. Said another way, our next President must be an educator.
That said, it is necessary to define a set of values that underlie qualification for the US Presidency. I would start with a sincere, genuine or authentic quest for truth. Honesty and transparency seem to go together even when there is some obvious need for opacity about future actions; as there is with military intelligence gathering and operations. That entails trust, so trust is a fundamental qualification. Trust is a value but it is not an intrinsic characteristic for any individual. An excessive, or unmitigated, trust of self – unmitigated confidence – is one mark of narcissism. Respect for limits and acknowledgment of ignorance is essential for any contemporary leader. Ignorance is not the opposite of intellect; it is essential for the intellect to function because it embraces questions before answers. Trust is part of a relationship between individuals. A president must be trusted; first to be elected and then, to govern. Trust is derived from a combination of values and intellect. Amy Klobuchar, to my mind, exemplifies that combination.
Democrats will be defeated again in 2020 of they embrace a clever opportunistic candidate and at least one, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, has already announced. Without doubt she is an attractive candidate from a big and important state. She is well positioned to forge ahead on gender issues, which certainly are important. But playing the gender card, the race card, the gun card, or any of many other “cards” will not deliver a candidate with enough heft to pull the country in a positive direction and away from the divisions that have been fostered by way too many contemporary politicians. As a result our democracy is in deep trouble. Solutions will not emerge from consideration of single issues no matter how sharp and articulate a candidate may seem. Our time demands comprehensive and open exploration to find innovative solutions that cross vast global issues. Deep dialogue is too often foreclosed by clever speech making. Dialogue demands questions and a genuine desire to learn.
I will find myself increasingly comfortable about the emerging future with leaders of the caliber of Senator Amy Klobuchar.