Northwest Missourian Opinion

If the Democratic primary field for the 2020 presidential election was a kitchen, there’d be too many cooks, and most of them aren’t contributing to the cooking at all.

There were a dozen candidates in the fourth Democratic debate, which is the largest field to ever participate in a single debate, according to the New York Times. This sounds like a win for democracy — more people are getting involved in the process and challenging the hierarchy, right? Wrong. Having a dozen candidates on the debate stage makes for a messy, difficult-to-follow debate.

It prevents clear candidates from getting the time they need to talk about issues. It allows passengers of the “clown car” free air time to throw potshots at their foes to try and score political points. If the Democrats want this process to produce the best candidate to beat President Donald Trump, they need to clear the clown car and focus on serious candidates.

The endless list of candidates may be a direct result of the rumors of collusion in the 2016 Democratic primary. Sen. Elizabeth Warren weighed in on this in 2016, saying the primary “was rigged” before eventually walking back her statements, according to the Boston Globe. 

Whether the primary was rigged or not, perception is everything in politics. This is probably why the DNC is allowing such a large field, but this will only hurt them in the long run. Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are the serious candidates in this race, and it’s time for them alone to have the stage.

Polls are obviously not a clear indicator of electability, as illustrated by the entirety of the 2016 election, but they can tell us who is consistently on people’s minds. Different polls have different results like CNN’s poll having Biden with a clear lead over the other candidates and Quinnipiac’s poll having Warren as the frontrunner. The constant, however, is the same four names pop up at the top of the list. 

Keeping Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg at the forefront will allow voters to accurately assess which person they want to vote for based on the issues. More time will be allotted for each candidate to tell the American people why they deserve to be in the race, and it would eliminate unnecessary noise. 

The more focused the race is, the better it is for the Democrats. They can stop wasting airtime and money supporting list causes and focus on unifying under a candidate to challenge Trump.

Warren would have more time to answer why her “Medicare for All” plan will work. Sanders would have more time to explain how he would bring democratic socialism to the forefront of the American economy. Biden could show whether or not he has the chops to be president, or if he is riding on the coattails of Barack Obama. Buttigieg would have more time to convince voters that the Democrats need a young fresh face to compete with Trump. 

It’s clear when watching the debates that these four are the most developed candidates. They are the ones the questions are focused on while the other eight are left to make mini stump speeches or hurl mud at the frontrunners to stay relevant.

Beto O’Rourke was red hot after his comments on “getting your guns.” However, ever since, he has resorted to calling Warren “punitive” on stage in hopes of getting some much-needed spark back into his dying campaign. 

Sen. Cory Booker has resorted to playing “guy who hates seeing his own party pitted against itself.” Spoiler alert Booker: it’s a primary — that’s how these things work.

 Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is evidently confused about which party she is in because she is doing nothing to differentiate herself from Republicans. Gabbard has been attacking the media, Clinton and the DNC, leaving her few allies on the left but wide support on the right, so maybe she should just switch sides.

Other candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris, Tom Steyer, Andrew Yang and Sen. Amy Klochubar all have the ability to qualify for future debates. At this point, they have no real shot at getting the nomination. 

Yes, Trump came from behind in 2016 to snatch the Republican nomination, but with the top four in the Democratic Party, a Cinderella story of a primary is pretty much out. It’s time to shrink the field.

Voters need more clarity than they do voices. If Democrats want a chance to come out of this primary stronger, they need to clear the clown car and start to focus on the candidates that have a shot at sitting in the Oval Office.

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