If the past two weeks have reaffirmed anything for me, it’s that the United States has a stupid means of nominating people for the most important job in the world. A few very ambitious people put themselves on a national tour where they eat food they’d never normally touch, shake thousands of hands and occasionally stand on a stage and verbally joust with one another. We learn who finished atop their class in mock trial but we don’t necessarily learn who’s a good leader. It’s as if the American public is an NFL GM and is being told to base your pick solely on the combine and not the three or four years of game film.
In the past two weeks, and particularly in the last couple of days, New York governor Andrew Cuomo (Dem) has shown himself to be a better leader than anyone in the White House and, to my eyes, better than anyone still in the Democratic race (I’d put Liz Warren up there with him). If you heard him explain his state’s plight yesterday, and heard him discuss how ventilators should be mobilized and how New York is the “canary in the coalmine” for other states, you heard someone whom New Yorkers can appreciate: he’s candid, he cares, but he’s not here to bullsh*t anyone or as MAGA folks on Twitter used to tell me, “offer positivity.” Who needs that right now?
I don’t expect the Democratic party to get smart all of a sudden, but this pandemic is a better crucible for leadership than 100 debates or town halls ever could be. And the people who are emerging as true leaders are Andrew Cuomo and Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington. I don’t know if either man would even want the job of President right now (I think Inslee ran and dropped out early), but as opposed to a pair of dudes in their late 70s, one who was flummoxed yesterday when his teleprompter went on the fritz, well, Cuomo and Inslee are superior.
The Democratic Party has the chance to do something bold and courageous at their convention, or virtual-convention, this summer. Throw out the delegate counts. Forget all the backroom promises and glad-handing. Produce a candidate who rose above during this crisis and demonstrated true leadership. And at the same time, younger than 75 years old.
Andrew Cuomo would make a terrific president.*
*As a disclaimer, we should all remember that about 18 years ago America was in love with a different Italian-American politician from New York and we all know how that worked out. So… you never know.