It’s Tuesday, January 1, 2019.

I didn’t have any problem writing that 2019. And now that we barely use checks anymore, the problem of writing the wrong year on them has abated.

Oh, yes, Happy New Year!

Elizabath Warren yesterday became the first well-known Democrat to throw her hat into the ring for the 2020 presidential nomination, in the first of several times I’ll use that cliché in order to justify the headline on this post.

She formed an exploratory committee, which allows her to do all the stuff candidates need to do in order to become full-fledged candidates. 

I suspect the only real exploring the committee will do is find the fastest route from Boston to anywhere in New Hampshire and the most direct flight from BOS to DSM. 

She’s running – the first one out of the gate. I mean, there are a bunch of other people who have said they’re running but who are not real contenders. John Delaney and Andrew Yang can take all the offense they want – they ain’t in the same league as Elizabeth Warren.

Their hats in the ring are like the ones you get at the paint store when you’re getting ready to roll the living room walls. Hers is an Oklahoma 10-gallon deal.

I like Elizabeth Warren. She speaks her mind and advocates for those in need. She understood what happened a decade ago when the nation’s economy came this close to collapsing and did everything she could to prevent it from happening again. 

If she had run in 2016, I probably would have supported her over Hillary Clinton. That’s not hindsight – I’ve always thought she was better equipped to stand up to Trump and the Republicans.

But there’s one thing wrong with her – and it’s a big strike as I consider 2020 candidates.

She’s 69 years old. On Election Day 2020, she’ll be 71.

Yes, I’m ageist. I don’t want the next president to be older than I’ll be – which is 66.

And yes, that eliminates a bunch of other people. Joe Biden, who’ll be almost 78. Bernie Sanders, who will be 79. Even Sherrod Brown, who’ll be less than a week away from 68 on Nov. 3, 2020.

These are guys who really need not to throw their hats in the ring, because they need them to keep their heads warm and stay healthy.

It is time to turn this country, once and for all, to younger people. 

Not that other candidates are all that young. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand will all be well into their 50s in 2020. Beto O’Rourke, who’s quite in fashion among Democrats even though he lost the Texas senate race, will be 48.

But the salvation of this country can only come when younger people begin to gain control.

Younger people are not wistful for some America that never existed. In some ways, they’re far more realistic.

They’ve grown up knowing what it’s like to have your country actually attacked. Many of them have been fighting battles in the Middle East or have friends who’ve gone to Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve taken on more debt than imaginable to get an education.

And they’ve seen and felt the cruelty of Trump and Trumpism. A president and philosophy that has never considered young people in its thinking. 

A younger candidate will not, as happened last time, fail to get climate change on the presidential agenda. 

Younger candidates can see the virtue in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s push for a Green New Deal – a solution to save the planet and create jobs. Younger candidates can make the case for Medicare for All, as their peers struggle to figure out how to stay healthy without going broke.

They are not stuck on a manufacturing economy that’s not returning. They know how the Internet works and how to make it better.

But that’s just my thinking. The campaign will shake out the pretenders. There isn’t any Democrat listed above – even John Delaney and Andrew Yang – who wouldn’t be a quantum leap better than what we have now.

Here’s when it starts to get tricky.

The forces that gave us Trump will soon be trying to give us Trump again.

You can bet that social media will soon start seeing memes trashing Elizabeth Warren. The effort to diminish her in the eyes of Democrats could already be brewing in some St. Petersburg boiler room. 

They’ll find what they perceive as what we perceive as negatives in her record and try to exploit them. They’ll pick on her appearance. They’ll pick on the native American DNA test – which was a dumb thing on her part, but has nothing to do with her qualifications for the White House.

Then they’ll make stuff up – and it will be in a corner of your Facebook feed for the next year.

And then the trolls will start in on any other Democrat perceived to have a shot at beating Trump. Anyone except the candidate they think is the weakest. 

So how should we start this new year – the one before the election – when it comes to the hat throwers.

Cautiously, but enthusiastically.

The Democrats running for president in 2020 need our protection. They need us to be very selective about how we get our information about them. 

To disregard any hatchet job that appears on a Web site we’ve never read before. 

To get our information from sources we trust. To scrutinize even those sources if something seems unfair or imprecise.

They need us to watch the debates on TV – and to see and hear how they answer serious questions from serious journalists in interviews.

They need us to make sure they make their positions clear on the issues we care about.

We don’t need to know if their navels are innies or outies. We do need to know how they’ll confront cyberterrorism, reform immigration and build a 21st century infrastructure. 

In the 2020 election, we need the Democratic candidates to succeed – to make America honorable again. #MAHA, if you will. 

Put that on a purple hat in 2019 and throw that in every ring you can.


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