Janette, I'm sorry if you've mentioned this before and I've forgotten, but what part of the country are you from again, and are you expat or stateside? Do you have US contacts out in the middle of the country, or only in a coastal or metropolitan area?
I ask because I can't say your reading of the situation seems at all accurate to me. Yes, the vague concept of socialism is slightly less toxic than it once was. There is an identifiable subset of voters, mostly very young and/or very well educated and/or with ties to the now moribund labor movement, for whom a European-style social-democratic candidate would not be scary. But my sense is that that subset is still a small minority overall. And to the extent it consists of young voters, that's probably a dead end, because not enough of them even vote. (See Brexit, and indeed, the recent EU parliamentary elections in the UK.)
And a social democrat is not the same thing as a socialist, which is indeed, rightly, a doomed word choice as long as any generations are still alive who remember World War II and the Cold War, when it was very clear that most actual socialist governments in the world have been one-party communist dictatorships. As are Russia, China, Venezuela, and Cuba now, a fact that even moderately right-wing media harp on constantly -- the Wall Street Journal, say, not just Fox News.
Most Americans' jobs depend on business, which depends on capitalism. People know that their paychecks come from employers, not from government or academia. (And their health insurance, unlike in many countries.) Obama was a successful candidate precisely because he was able to appeal to the center -- by not
appearing too threatening to the status quo or too sympathetic to special interests, and by addressing the center as if we're all in this together, not stoking anger and widening division. Which is precisely what almost all of the current flock of Democrats are doing wrong -- speaking only to their far-left base and ignoring everyone else, the larger group who are actually the majority in the country.
I sympathize with some of Bernie Sanders's positions, but surely dude is right that he would be a dangerous choice, because he's so far left that he's unelectable. (And yes, he's also too old.) If the party wanted an impassioned left-wing candidate with little to no sense of humor (Corbyn, anyone? still equally bad news for his own party, and they still can't get rid of him either), I personally would prefer Elizabeth Warren, who is really sharp and sometimes even funny. But I really think they're both better off staying in the Senate and working to elect a Democratic majority and change laws there.
I don't think Biden ought to run again (he's also too old), and I am not at all inspired by many of the other angry, negative Democrats in the flock. They are not going to beat Trump unless they win back some
people who voted once for Trump. Whoever those people are -- possibly suburban women, if the 2018 election was a clue -- they are listening now, even though Democratic insiders seem to think they're only talking to the 'base.' And the independent voters don't care about the Mueller report, or impeachment, or any of that stuff. They might be impressed by some hope of progress in areas like health care, education, and infrastructure. After all, those were things that Trump promised to do.
I do like Buttigieg -- he's got a lot more between the ears than Kennedy ever had. But I don't think he's old enough to win or has a strong enough record of accomplishment, I think he's just trying to create a little name recognition. I also like some of the governors, like Hickenlooper. But anyone with a funny-sounding name like either of those is going to have a big problem in a national race.
I'm not convinced that any woman can win unless she has an almost unassailably strong record that includes success in business, which leaves most of these out.
Sadly, in fact, I doubt that any of the current crop of Democrats can beat Trump. I really wish they would all just stop saying they want to be president and start trying to register Democratic voters and elect state politicians and judges instead, because with the current Supreme Court, state legislatures are where the battles of the coming decades will be fought.
And they're not even going to be able to win those, in competitive states, unless they track far enough back toward the center to explicitly include the many Americans who are simply not comfortable with the idea that abortion is anything but a sin, even if it is sometimes the lesser evil, and who still feel that gay sex might be sinful, even if they don't want to exclude individual gay people (if they know any). There are a lot of American Christians in that vague center-right category who are not necessarily 'evangelical' in the sense of attending a nondenominational charismatic hell-and-brimstone megachurch, and who might be 'born again' only in the sense of having made a life-changing decision to give up something like alcohol or drug addiction, but who remain relatively traditional in their beliefs, especially if they have never been exposed to a better-educated pastor who can point out where Jesus's own teaching had things in common with (whisper) socialism. That's where I actually like Buttigieg, for one, who is able to make a very articulate case for a more principled version of Christianity. (As was Obama, by the way, although his black pastor friend cost him a lot.)
The only other hypothetical kind of person I envision as possibly being able to beat Trump is someone who, like him, would come in from completely outside the traditional party structure and who already has a lot of media power, name recognition, and (to me this is key) business experience. Oprah, for example, or Bloomberg, or better still, Bill and/or Melinda Gates. Or maybe in a pinch even Sheryl Sanders, though her particular privacy-invading business might rightly be a liability.
But in any case, not
the current guy whose name I can't even remember who's reputed to be running as a third-party 'business' candidate. Any third-party candidate who doesn't already have massive name recognition and strongly positive personal charisma hands the election to the Republicans; see Ralph Nader.
Sigh. Sorry to have gone on at some length, but it seemed to me that all those factors need to be acknowledged. (I only wish the Democratic Party would acknowledge them. David Axelrod, if you read this ...)
For the nonverbal version of all that, Europe-based onlookers at the US might find a recent documentary interesting -- or rather, uninteresting, but telling. It's a two-and-a-half-hour film by Robert Wiseman for PBS, called 'Monrovia, Indiana,' and it shows a lot about the daily lives of the people whom I think wishful thinkers like Janette may be overlooking.https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/...https://www.pbs.org/show/monrovia-indiana/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7kAsWW5kd8