It’s Monday, July 22, 2019.
On this day in 1882, Edward Hopper was born in Upper Nyack, N.Y., about four miles from where I’m writing this.
I’m not an art freak, but Hopper is a favorite. His paintings evoke two places I find beautiful: lower Manhattan and Cape Cod.
Those paintings capture moments of people’s lives in places that feel familiar. One of my favorites is “Gas,” a gas station on a quiet road – I always think it’s someplace on Route 6A in Cape Cod, but it could be anywhere in the Northeast.
And if, by mentioning this, I plant a mindpictureworm of “Nighthawks” or “Cape Cod Morning” or “Early Sunday Morning” or any other of Hopper’s work, I’ve done well.
The first trailer from the movie about Mr. Rogers is out and trending on social media. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VLEPhfEN2M
My baby brother is not a Tom Hanks fan. He might be the only person who won’t like this trailer.
Everybody else sees Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers and cries. Mainly because it’s Tom Hanks and Mr. Rogers.
I think most people love both of them because they remind us of goodness. Of competence. Of compassion.
Right now, it feels that those virtues are lost in a dark cave.
Like magic, this two-year-old Onion piece showed up in my Twitter feed: https://www.theonion.com/happy-monday-everyone-looking-forward-to-another-week-1819769158
If you don’t want to read the satire with the faked byline, the bottom line is this: Trump’s goal is the infection of American daily life with his taint.
There is never a day off from Trump. Not for a weekend, not for a holiday. His goal is to do or say something every day to get attention. That’s his brand.
So Frank Bruni’s piece in the Sunday Times is quite understandable – to a point.
Bruni, perhaps the Times’ most thoughtful opinionist, says Democrats need to make this the overriding theme of the 2020 election Democratic Party: “It’s about getting rid of Trump, because the price of not doing so could be this nation’s very soul.”
I’m sick of him, too. I’m tired of the glee he takes in exacerbating the nation’s divides. He diminishes all of us and erases any claims we have to be an example to rest of the world – even as the rest of the world looks to us for help with its own troubles.
The problem is how.
And that’s where I have to part company with Bruni.
Bruni seems to believe Democrats need to start modifying their message. He lambastes such things as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, seeing them as pipe dreams and well beyond what Americans want.
He feels that these progressive goals will allow Trump to tie the party to its most outspoken members – particularly, The Squad that includes firebrand Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.
And that will allow Trump to win in 2020 – by turning off the more moderate factions of the Democratic Party. He says that an ideologically focused Democratic Party could turn off some of the people who gave Hillary Clinton a plurality of the vote in 2016.
Here’s the thing: It’s still July 2019.
We watched the first debate last month. It told us quite a bit about the candidates – good and bad. Heck, Eric Swalwell is already gone from the field.
You can’t run nobody against somebody. But we also need to feel our way to a nominee that fairly represents the ideals of the people opposed to Trump.
And the best part of this process is that we have another half-year to iron out the ideas to take to the American people.
Take Medicare for All.
Several of the Democratic candidates support the idea. While Bernie Sanders likes to think he invented it, it’s been bandied about for generations. Both presidential Roosevelts – Teddy and FDR – supported a form of it.
I’m for it. I do think there should be some form of health care for everyone in this country. The idea that everyone has it at birth would just make life simpler for all 329,292, 553 of us – as of 3:17:29 p.m. ET.
But the immediate goal is to moderate health care costs. And the idea isn’t to scare people who currently have insurance through their employer by saying we’re going to abolish it for some system no one has put in place.
So the Medicare for All Democrats need to work with the not Medicare for All Democrats to find ways to take the next step.
And that’s what the next nominee will do, no matter who it is. If it’s Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris, they’ll hear out the ideas of Joe Biden and Tim Ryan and Pete Buttigieg and come up with changes they can sell to a majority of the American people.
But the idea of having to make those accommodations now is ridiculous. Let’s take time to sound the ideas out and let the American people judge.
That’s one of many examples.
Trump isn’t going to run against the spectrum of Democrats. He’s going to run against one.
And that one – if he or she is smart – will combine her or his ideas with those of other Democrats to get something to sell to the American people.
The point I’m making is that we can’t worry about how Trump is going to pick at Democrats when we don’t know exactly what we want. We have to run on something.
And Democrats have to be enthusiastic about their nominee. While whoever get the nod is going to be the alternate choice of a majority, the goal is to drive the turnout – especially the party’s loyalest voters: women, African-Americans, young people.
They have to show up like they showed up for Barack Obama.
If that happens, Trump can’t win.
So, let’s let the process play out a while. There are lots of good candidates with lots of good ideas.
Let’s learn about these people. Let’s decide which candidate we support by what they believe.
Let’s not pick a candidate because we think he or she has a better chance to beat Trump.
Because we thought Hillary Clinton was a lock – and we pay the price every day.