HOW MANY DEMOCRATS IS ENOUGH?
If I knew a librarian, I could probably find out the title of a book which was published many years ago which listed the collective noun for just about everything, one of the more common being ‘a gaggle of geese’, and going on from there to some pretty poetic ones. I remember being particularly impressed by the ones for larks, swans, and ravens. Not buying that book when I still remembered its title was remains a profound regret. In any case, the time has surely come for such a collective noun for Democrats, particularly Democratic presidential candidates. My initial, modest proposal would, I think, be for a ‘prospect’ of Democrats, but will entertain any and all suggestions sent in on a postcard.
With the spate of alarmed punditry all last year decrying (yes, decrying, for every pundit in the land seemed to agree that a large number of presidential candidates was a Bad Thing, if not indeed a Very Bad Thing) the huge number of Democratic presidential candidates who would involve themselves in seeking the nomination. Thus I was somehow disappointed in the paltry number of same who have announced so far, which as I write is between seven and ten or so, depending on whether you count the ones at the ‘exploratory committee’ stage. The initial projections of ‘as many as fifteen’ soon enough expanded upward—I believe the highest number I ever saw was forty, but the prediction of the month for March seems to be two dozen.
I’m not sure how we even get to two dozen as of now. Time featured fifteen of them on its cover last week, and even one or two of those weren’t actually Democrats—I’m never sure where to put Michael Bloomberg. When one got around to the actual article, their fifteen plus everybody else who got even a passing mention didn’t really get us up to two dozen, but perhaps we’ll get a stray state legislator or two eventually.
Why this large number of candidates, whatever it may turn out to be, should cause such terror in the newsrooms of America baffles me. Given the carpetbombing coverage that primary campaigns garner anymore, I’d think that journalists would love them. Presumably we wouldn’t get such nonstop coverage if John Q. Public weren’t interested enough to read and watch. Time even warmed this old political junkie’s heart by offering the possibility of a multi-ballot convention, which hasn’t happened in my lifetime, which is getting to be pretty lengthy. Not that I’m getting my hopes up; every quadrennium somebody manages to mention it, including 2016, when there were only two Democratic candidates, and it never happens. But I also thought I wouldn’t live to see the Berlin Wall come down. The only real problem I can see on the horizon is a repeat of the G.O.P.’s 2016 blunder of segregating the debates into the Cool Kids and the Kids Nobody Will Pick, and Democrats are too smart for that, right? The way to do it was suggested by somebody whom I would be glad to credit if I remembered who it was, and that is to divide your field into teams of six, or nine, or whatever comes out even, by drawing lots, and have separate debates. Let the common man sort from there.
Of course, I wouldn’t be a political junkie worthy of the name if I hadn’t started researching candidates.My initial cull will be to sort them into three categories: ‘Acceptable’, ‘Unacceptable’, and ‘Enthusiastic’, with perhaps room for a fourth: ‘Entertaining’.