Democrats need a celebrity apprentice

In­deed, the Demo­crat­ic Party’s most re­cog­niz­able can­did­ates are either past their primes, out of the polit­ic­al main­stream, or both. Up­com­ing vis­its to early-vot­ing states by War­ren, Sanders, and Biden are the equi­val­ent of a base­ball team re­ly­ing on a bunch of aging vet­er­ans whose best days are long be­hind them. “Bernie Sanders is now the lead­er of the Demo­crat­ic Party,” lamen­ted one party of­fi­cial, at­trib­ut­ing Sanders’s stand­ing to his su­per­i­or name iden­ti­fic­a­tion and deep con­nec­tion to his so­cial­ist-minded sup­port­ers.

If the party was run like a busi­ness, it would be look­ing to mar­ket pro­spect­ive can­did­ates to its core con­sumers—a young and di­verse con­stitu­ency that has grown in­creas­ingly dis­il­lu­sioned with polit­ics. The Demo­crats’ lead­ing can­did­ates, however, are a demo­graph­ic mis­match: Biden will be 77 years old in 2020, and the memory of his ser­vice to Pres­id­ent Obama will have faded. Sanders will be push­ing 80 by the next pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, and he sounds more in­ter­ested in chan­ging the dir­ec­tion of the party than be­com­ing pres­id­ent. War­ren is the young­est of the bunch, but if elec­ted, would be the old­est pres­id­ent in Amer­ic­an his­tory. All would be run­ning on a plat­form of eco­nom­ic pro­gressiv­ism at a time when the en­ergy on the Left is fueled by iden­tity polit­ics.

In a pre-Trump world, polit­ic­al ex­per­i­ence, elect­ab­il­ity, and an even-keeled tem­pera­ment would be val­ued highly. But there are alarm­ing signs that the next gen­er­a­tion of Demo­crats are learn­ing all the wrong les­sons from our un­pre­dict­able com­mand­er in chief. Many of the less­er-known con­tenders are evolving their style to ap­peal to the chan­ging mores of the base. Gil­librand, for one, peppered her con­ver­sa­tion with pro­fan­ity in a glow­ing pro­file in New York Magazine. Book­er aban­doned his old bi­par­tis­an brand of polit­ics to testi­fy against his former Sen­ate col­league Jeff Ses­sions dur­ing con­firm­a­tion hear­ings.