With all due respect, I think creating an atmosphere of desperation — as understandable the circumstances are to merit that emotion — would, in the end, result in paralysis, not affirmative action. The American electorate is looking for an exit ramp off Trump’s multi-lane highway of misery, lies, incompetence, and immorality. A successful Democratic contender must build that ramp toward a destination of realistic expectations.

That destination should include reasonable taxation to reduce student debt, assure economically-sustainable healthcare, and encourage federal and state-supportable programs to lift the disenfranchised in society to a place of social parity. While dunning the rich — and corporations — with steep taxes resonates with those of us who will never see such wealth, that sort of Draconian approach will not lead to the kind of wealth-sharing envisioned by some progressives. The most wealthy can absorb high taxes with very little damage; however, if there is a significant incentive for the top 1% to transfer a portion of their wealth to federal, state, and local needs, including education, environment-protection programs, and infrastructure repair, then such a wealth transfer might be palatable and effective. There are examples of such transfers promoted by Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, the Waltons, and others. See the top 50 philanthropists of 2018.

The off ramp should lead to national security without Executive Branch adventurism, a firm and trustworthy relationship with our allies, and an achievable goal of reducing or eliminating multi-tour rotations of our military personnel.

A successful Democratic candidate must not only have a vision for addressing the plethora of environmental issues facing the U.S. and the global neighborhood, he or she must be able to articulate practical short- and long-term measures that can be adopted by individuals, communities, cities, states, and the federal government.

Most of all, a successful Democratic contender must be an honest broker for what the government can or cannot do, and offer the American people a realistic assessment of what is possible in the short term, what is hoped for in the long term, and what challenges we will face in world of limited resources, unlimited problems, and almost universal distrust of what America has come to represent under the current administration.

Journalist, former Capitol Hill staff (House and Senate), former Cabinet speechwriter, editor, photojournalist and bird photographer. Top Writer Quora 2016–2017

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