Moderate and transformative? Yes, a candidate can be both

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The Washington Post Op-Ed “Fantasy politics for Democratic moderates” (Helaine Olen, Opinion writer, Oct. 22, 2019) revolves around a basic statement: “There’s a popular fable among a number of Democratic candidates for president: A moderate agenda has a better chance of passing than a more ambitious one.” Echoing views also expressed in various other forms and venues, the article goes on to make the case that moderate agendas are not ambitious enough, and moderate Democrats are not the path to victory in 2020.

I am an independent. I oppose this president and his administration, who are failing the American people on moral, ethical and practical grounds. I will support the Democratic nominee in 2020, regardless or who she or he might be—as they are the best, in fact the only, alternative to the re-election of this unfit president.

But it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the most ambitious agenda at display in the Democratic primaries comes from a moderate. A moderate who promises a thoughtful, rationale approach to government, based on a powerful blend of principles, data, vision and pragmatism. A moderate striving to guide this nation to re-embrace its distinctive and captivating soul—a soul based on shared values, not ugly divides. What could, in this day and age, be more transformative?

This unconventional candidate may or may not be the Democratic nominee—and may or not ultimately get my vote, when I temporarily switch my registration in the primaries. It is early, other candidates are also attractive, and much might still happen. But, should this candidate be the eventual nominee, I believe that Mr. Trump will be convincingly defeated next year.

Most importantly, I believe that this nation will once again embrace the powerful vision of America that has—until not too long ago—made us a global reference for freedom and principled success. Not a perfect nation, mind you. But one that has the humility to recognize and (yes, too slowly at times) address its faults, while moving decisively to make all of us, and the world, better as communities and places.

This candidate is young. He is intelligent, articulate, and educated at top schools. He has a husband. He has a difficult-to-pronounce family name. As Mayor, he erred on important diversity issues, which he assumes and must learn from. I don’t always agree with him. Absolutely none of this is disqualifying—although many may try to make it so.

His name is Pete Buttigieg. He displays wisdom and experience beyond his age. He is a distinctively ambitious and potentially transformative moderate. We could do far worse than him. For the moment, it is hard to imagine that we could do much better.

— Antonio Baptista

PS: Whoever your Democratic candidate is, please remember what is at stake. Keep the dialogue flowing with openness and civility, explore commonalities, build shared visions. Do not give this president a path for re-election.   

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