Why I’m Voting for Amy Klobuchar

I’m about to cast my first ever vote in a Democratic presidential primary! It’s actually not my first time voting in a Democratic primary; Texas’ open primary system gave me the chance to do that back in the day. But having been a “No Party Preference” voter for my many years in Cali, proudly independent and somewhat wary of political parties, I’d never taken the chance to cast a Democratic presidential primary ballot.

But given the incredibly corrosive influence that Donald Trump has had on our country and the deeply corrupting effect he has had on both church and state, I’m going to do it, voting for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar! I’m hopeful that she’ll do well enough in the upcoming states that she’ll still be in the race when California’s votes are counted next month. I write about it here in order to contribute to the discussion among my fellow lefties about whom we should champion to take on Trump in the fall. To be honest, I’m also talking about it because I’d like to connect with other folks who are going all in for Amy; most of my other friends are supporting either Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, or Andrew Yang.

Announcing her candidacy.

Listening to Sen. Klobuchar in interviews, she sounds like a third-term senator in a good way – she obviously knows her stuff, on a wide variety of stuff. But the very first time she stood out to me was in late 2016, between Trump’s election and inauguration. That’s when I read that she was traveling with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham to Ukraine, the Baltics, and other Eastern European democracies to encourage leaders resisting Russian political and economic pressure. It didn’t surprise me that McCain and Graham went; it’s very much something McCain would do, and he and Graham were frequent political allies back then. But midwestern Democrat Amy Klobuchar? How did she get into the mix? I should have remembered that Minnesota has a large population with Ukrainian and Eastern European ancestry.

But what that visit showed me was her grasp of foreign policy, a subject that has gotten short shrift during the 2020 campaign season so far. I was impressed by Sen. Klobuchar’s analysis of Vladimir Putin’s 2016 intelligence coups and of what we’d need to do to keep him from continuing to screw with us and our European allies. I also appreciated her belief in NATO as a continued bulwark against Russian aggression, both overt and subtle. 

With the late Sen. McCain and Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis.

To me, international affairs can’t be secondary to domestic policy. Not only are they interrelated, but I believe we Americans have been lulled into a sense of complacency. Our national security and our ideals of global human dignity and self-determination are as threatened now as ever. So we need a president who’s neither a newbie nor seemingly disinterested in international security issues. Klobuchar has shown that she’s up for the challenge.      

I also like Sen. Klobuchar’s balance of political idealism and realism. She has a liberal philosophy, yet her ability to work with members of both parties isn’t just a campaign talking point. The Richard Lugar Center, in fact, rates her as one of the best at finding common ground legislatively across the aisle. 

This is advantageous on multiple fronts. In terms of governance, most political observers would probably agree that it’s better to pass legislation with truly bipartisan majorities. Enacting laws through uber-slim, skin-of-their-teeth congressional votes means that those policies could be quickly undone as soon as the other party retakes their majority. The legitimacy that real bipartisan support gives to new laws helps to sustain those reforms in the future. Sen. Klobuchar’s track record bodes well for this.

At Donald Trump’s inauguration, Sen. Klobuchar took a selfie with Sens. McCain and Sanders. The San Francisco Chronicle infamously identified her in this photo as “a woman.”

Yet from a more utilitarian standpoint, her ability to speak to the concerns of many centrists and even some conservatives makes her more electable in the fall, vis-à-vis other Democratic candidates. In my view as a very small-time political scientist – I majored in poli sci and mathematics at the University of Texas – because of the archaic and undemocratic electoral college, Trump can win a second term just by firing up the xenophobic and LGBTQ-phobic parts of his base. But a Democratic path to retaking the White House requires our candidate to get our diverse coalition to the polls and to win over independents in the political center. It ain’t fair that an individual citizen’s vote is weighted more heavily in states that lean red, but it’s the hand we’re dealt.

Perhaps the most prominent example of Sen. Klobuchar’s practical approach is her take on health care. She’s a firm believer in Obamacare, and she disagrees with candidates who favor Medicare for All, instead backing the addition of a public option to the Affordable Care Act. 

Rally in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Sunday, Feb. 9. An estimated 1100 in attendance, as two polls put her rising to third in the Democratic field.

As much as I think Medicare for All would be good for our country in theory, I don’t see any way in the galaxy that we could make that happen soon. Given the national debt, now approaching $29 trillion – nearly all of it accumulated since the Reagan years – even a tax on the ultra-wealthy won’t keep Medicare for All from moving us closer to a “fiscal cliff” that we finally fall from. We’re already just six years away from Medicare for Some being unable to fully pay out its stated benefits, and Social Security only 15 years from the same. 

Sen. Klobuchar’s balance of idealism and realism not only makes for wise policy in this case, but it will also further appeal to voters in the center, where concerns over fiscal deficits still have some traction. It’s not by accident that she has touted her plans for paying down the national debt.

And who can forget how she shined in her Judiciary Committee confrontation with then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh? She’ll be a hell of a candidate to go toe-to-toe with Trump in the fall, taking no crap whatsoever.

With husband John Bessler and daughter Abigail Klobuchar Bessler in 2006, right before leaving for her first term as senator.

She also passes the “does she get people like me” test, with experiences of pain, loss, and reflection that sound genuine. Her father’s alcoholism and her intervention in his life are well-documented. Less known are the terrible difficulties she had with the health care system as a new mom with a critical care baby. It all gives me reason to believe she has a capacity for empathy necessary in presidents, lest they become tyrannical. She even talked about this in the last debate:

Finally, Sen. Klobuchar fits my ideal demographics for a president. At age 59, she’s lived a lot of life, yet is in good health. And she would be our long-awaited first female POTUS, a dream come true! I don’t support her just because she’s a woman, but the fact that she is a woman indeed clinches it for me. America has waited long enough!

Though I’ve had some difficulty finding other Amy supporters in my circles, I know I’m not alone in seeing her as our future president. The New York Times gave her its co-endorsement (with Sen. Warren), and New Hampshire’s largest paper has weighed in for her, too.

Will you join me in supporting Sen. Amy Jean Klobuchar of Minnesota for president? Tell me if you do!

(For more from Amy, check out the Times’ extensive interviews with her; the two sets of Q&A are very thorough! The second one is here in video form. She also talked at length with Cosmopolitan, in a seriously informative conversation with their staff.)

The senator with Abby (then a student at Yale, where Amy also went to school) and Notorious in 2015.