Op-Ed: Vote for Boring in 2020

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 - 2:02pm

With Democratic primary hopefuls not so quietly taking trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, the field is wide open to challenge President Donald Trump in his re-election bid to “Keep America Great.” Let us turn to our nation’s past elections and leaders for insight into our upcoming historical presidential election.

The recent passing of former President George H.W. Bush has provided us the opportunity to reflect on his legacy as the most effective one-term president in modern history. His administration’s efficacy can be largely attributed to his years of hard work and experience. Having taken office as, arguably, the most qualified person to ever become commander-in-chief, Bush came to the Oval Office with more than 20 years of experience as the former vice president, director of the CIA, Republican National Committee chairman, United Nations ambassador, U.S. representative from Texas and World War II hero. By all accounts, Bush was certainly a “D.C. insider” and this was a good thing. In 2020, we need an insider with the institutional knowledge necessary to effectively lead the government. Someone who has quietly been doing the work of our nation for decades. Not another billionaire outsider or ambitious career politician eager to make a name for themselves.

We must ask: What regulatory, executive and discretionary actions does the next president plan to issue in order to begin to heal our nation, reeling from arguably the most turbulent administration since 1974? Right now, our country needs a competent, humble and level-headed leader to govern. We ought to look to our history and take stock of how we as a nation navigated rocky waters in the past. Michigan native President Gerald Ford rose to the occasion, becoming president with no ambition for power but out of service to the nation. Ford’s personal humility and years of experience representing Michigan in the House of Representatives are exactly what the country needed on the heels of President Richard Nixon’s resignation disaster. By all accounts, Ford could be considered a boring politician. As the first non-elected president, Ford took office at a time when confidence in the government was at an all-time low, but still managed to steady the ship and keep the trains running.

The Democrats ought to choose a candidate who is experienced, who has a vision and who some may even consider a little “boring,” as were Truman, Ford and Bush, all of whom were seasoned D.C. operators and well qualified for the job of president.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has taken center stage in the gaggle of progressives gnawing at the bit for the opportunity to challenge Trump, who currently has the lowest overall approval rating compared to other presidents since he’s taken office. However, Harris’ recent admission that she hopes to rid the American health care system of private insurance companies is demonstrative of the out-of-touch sensationalist policies of the progressive arm of the Democratic party, though she retracted the statement.

Democrats rebranded in 2018 in a desperate attempt to differentiate themselves from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the corporate arm of the Democratic Party. Candidates such as Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-N.J. and Sen. Cory Booker, D-Mass., have used Senate hearings as a launching pad for their campaigns instead of working with their Republican colleagues on doing the business of the American people.

2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has spent the past two years taking aim at Trump and his more eccentric statements instead of proposing legislation or using his Senate seat for more than a springboard to run for president again. Sanders has shelved his enthusiasm and bully pulpit for the past two years with the intention of preserving himself for another grueling presidential campaign.

What are the Democratic Party’s policy initiatives for 2020? What actions will they take to unravel the Trump administration’s conservative directives and policies? Which Democratic candidate will bring the humility of Ford, the technocratic expertise of Bush and the steady handedness of former President Barack Obama?

As students, we ought to look to the soft-spoken, “boring” candidate who can humble themselves within the most powerful office in the world to enact change. Not “change that we can believe in,” but rather “change we can achieve.” With news outlets already covering the still far-off 2020 presidential election, let us be intentional in our vote. We must look for leaders who have meaningful track records and impressive resumes. And be open to candidates who, yes, may appear a little bit boring.

Sam Kole is a student in LSA and can be reached at samkole@umich.edu.