ALTHOUGH the Democratic field for President has narrowed with the decisions of Michael Bloomberg and Sherrod Brown not to run, the remaining Democratic candidates continue to impress.
I recently met two candidates, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would each match up well against President Donald Trump.
Klobuchar is a public high school graduate who attended Yale and the University of Chicago Law School. In 2006, after two terms as a county attorney, she successfully ran for the U.S. Senate. She is very popular in Minnesota, winning each of her three Senate races by over 20 percentage points.
In person, Klobuchar is pragmatic and smart, and she displays a wicked sense of humor. She is not afraid to take practical positions that set her apart from her competition.
For example, while favoring universal health coverage, Klobuchar does not promise Medicare for all. She does, however, support adding a Medicare option to the Affordable Care Act. This makes practical sense to me, as I have yet to be convinced that Medicare will not just shift significant costs of health insurance away from employers and onto individual workers. But I digress.
Unlike the current President, Klobuchar is accomplished at getting things done in Washington, in a bipartisan manner. She is one of the Senate’s most effective legislators. In 2016, she ranked number one among all senators in sponsoring the most bills (27) enacted into law.
One major piece of legislation she sponsored, along with Democrats like New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan and Republicans like Dan Sullivan of Arkansas, was the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which provided $3.3 billion in funding to address the opioid epidemic.
A few of Klobuchar’s former staffers have complained that she is too tough of a boss. However, a tough boss who demands excellence would be a refreshing change from Donald Trump.
I was not prepared to be as impressed as I was with Pete Buttigieg.
Why would a two-term mayor of a Midwestern city be a viable candidate for President?
After meeting him, however, I changed my mind. Like the other candidates I have met, he is smart and articulate, which are not surprising characteristics for a Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar. He is the only candidate, Democrat or Republican, who is a veteran, having served in Afghanistan.
Buttigieg also is the youngest (37 years old) of the Democratic candidates, and believes his youth is a major positive factor for his candidacy. He talks about the weight of the federal debt on his and future generations, and the fact that his generation is going to have to deal with the reality of climate change in a way that the boomer generation will not.
He is a combination of aspiration and practicality. Buttigieg spoke about the three pillars of his campaign: freedom, democracy and security.
At the same time, he points to his record as mayor of South Bend. During his eight years in office, unemployment fell by half, and population decline has been reversed.
Good mayors are people who see problems and want to fix them. I think that is why Buttigieg is proposing to change the number of Supreme Court justices and make the court less partisan. He sees a court that is losing the public’s trust and respect and wants to fix the problem. Compare that to Trump, who leaves chaos in his wake. You may not agree with how Buttigieg wants to fix the problem, but you know he wants to fix it, not make it worse.
Either Klobuchar or Buttigieg would be great candidates to run against Donald Trump; each would provide a real and welcome contrast in personality, ideas and priorities to the President.