This fact presents me with a difficult decision.
Had Westen’s survey shown that both ideas were a flop—the idea of a reform campaign, and the idea of resigning once reform was passed—then it would be back to the drawing board, and home to my family.
Had the survey shown that both ideas were winners, then I would power on, more disciplined about controlling the message, but reinforced in the truth of the ultimate plan.
But what’s the right thing to do when the substance of the idea is confirmed, but its implementing strategy rejected? Is there a way back from the commitment to both?
(Cue Lyle Lovett, from “Here I am”:
I understand too little too late
I realize there are things you say and do
You can never take back
But what would you be if you didn’t even try
You have to try
So after a lot of thought
I’d like to reconsider
If it’s not too late
Make it a cheeseburger.
Okay, the last line doesn’t quite work. But the rest was written for this story.)
America gave birth to the idea of a representative democracy. We don’t have one now. And all the promises about what the next Democratic administration will do don’t mean squat diddly if we don’t fix that fact. Now.
America needs a President who will do that. We need a candidate who will lead the nation in an election that makes restoring democracy its first goal. Not because the policies being promised by the Democratic candidates aren’t important. Of course they are important. They are the most important reasons why the Democrats must win. But restoring our democracy must come first if any of those promises is to be even plausible.
None of the other candidates in the Democratic primary have made this reform their priority. Some have pointed to the problem. Some have a partial fix buried in their platform. Yet none are building a campaign that promises reform on day one, or that explains what fixing this democracy would take, or how it is even possible.
That makes sense—for a politician. The data show that from a politician, the message of reform isn’t effective. People don’t believe it. For a politician, the better strategy is to promise the moon—ignoring the truth that the rocket can’t get off the ground.
But I am not constrained in the way the politicians are. Westen’s data shows that. And so if you believe as I do that restoring our democracy is the most important challenge before us—the thing we must do if we’re to do anything else—then it’s time to swallow pride, and follow the data.
If the Democrats won’t take seriously a candidate with a viable, credible, and professionally managed campaign just because it includes a promise to step aside once the work is done, then fine. You win. I drop that promise.
I am running for president. I am running with the purpose of restoring this democracy. I will make that objective primary. I will do everything possible to make it happen first, by working with Congress to pass fundamental reform first.