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Ready, California?



It came in my mailbox the day of the Iowa caucuses: the ballot for March 3. It seemed flimsy and insignificant. I'll only be making four choices and four marks total since Fifth District supervisor is not up this year. Yet this ballot seems heavier, maybe because it's one of the more important ones I've cast in the past five decades. Who best to make Trump a one-term aberration and to reassure the world the United States is still that bright, shiny beacon of democracy with three functioning branches of government? Who best to prove we have not morphed into a dictatorship?

As of this week, I am one of the undecided for the Democratic presidential primary and I'm not alone. That's because Dems have a number of good candidates running this year, each with their own human flaws. I went to two non-political gatherings just last week that turned into impromptu caucuses. A few minds even changed after lively debate in someone's crowded living room. Those kinds of gatherings — debate and discussion with our friends and neighbors, especially those we don't agree with — are what we need more of right now.

The Journal does not endorse but we all have individual opinions. Another columnist in this newspaper scoffed when the New York Times endorsed two candidates in Iowa: Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. I, however, cheered. Not because it's a woman thing but because in that particular early contest, they both seemed the most qualified, experienced, get-it-done candidates, full of ideas on how to right this ship. And they are both tough enough to stand up to Donald Trump, the consummate bully.

I had another long-shot favorite who faded and/or ran out of money: Andrew Yang. (I have a minor in economics.) He is absolutely right in his assessment of how quickly the economy is evolving and how it should be fixed. I also love his proposal to give every American $1,000 a month, no strings attached. Some recent studies show that when needy people are given cash, they spend wisely on things like groceries and childcare. One parent could choose to stay home after the birth of a child for a full year and someone else could go to a local college without incurring crushing debt.

Bernie Sanders still is leading in California. He is an inspiring speaker and that counts. The last two Democratic presidents, Clinton and Obama, both served two successful terms and they both knew how to inspire us. I will support him if he is the nominee but I am not a fan. He had his chance to build a broader, more inclusive coalition in 2016 even though his primary opponent had her pinky on the scale. My question is, does he play well enough with others to get things done? In all his years in Congress, he sponsored and passed just seven bills and two of those were designating post offices in Vermont. My biggest fear was summed up by a depressing fact included in a recent column by David Brooks: "Only 53 percent of Sanders voters say they will certainly support whomever is the Democratic nominee." He notes that many of Sanders' primary voters went for Trump and could do so again.

If I had to vote today, to paraphrase a friend, my heart says Klobuchar and my brain says maybe a white guy whose name starts with a "B?" Mike Bloomberg? True, there is something disheartening about a billionaire funding his own campaign. And Californians don't know Bloomberg well. But as mayor of New York for 12 years, he has a long track record to examine — for better or for worse, given the criticism over harassment allegations and stop and frisk. What I care about is that he has his national priorities right: universal health care with the strong government option that Obama promised us; international climate change leadership; sensible gun control; investment in education, especially community colleges focused on career training. Maybe Buttigieg? (I'm still lukewarm due to (a) lack of experience and (b) a smidgeon of arrogance.) Biden? I know he did poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he's still topping national polls in a head-to-head against Trump. And I'm certainly not over Warren, now that her health care solution is evolving.

I'm close to a decision. I'm looking forward to the remaining debates starting this week. And Nevada and South Carolina voters will certainly inform my final choice. How about you?

We have another week to caucus in these pages before March 3. That includes my Fieldbrook neighbors sticking with Trump. Let's hear about your choice for president and your reasoning. You may even change a few minds.

. Contact her at [email protected]. She prefers she/her pronouns.

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