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Maybe it’s the book sales. Maybe it’s the national press.

Maybe they really do think they’re just “born for it.”

Whatever the allure of running for president is this year, about two dozen Democrats are giving it a shot.

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

The fact that only about five of them have a legitimate chance of winning the nomination has left several hopefuls from purple states getting criticized for wasting a perfectly good chance to knock off an incumbent Republican senator and flip the Senate to the Democrats in the process.

“Beto should run against Sen. John Cornyn in Texas.”

“Former Gov. John Hickenlooper should challenge Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado.”

You get the picture.

But criticizing those men for not wanting to join the U.S. Senate gets today’s reality of governance in America all wrong.

Yes, Hickenlooper, Beto O’Rourke and everybody else polling around 5% or below probably should run for the Senate — but they should run for the state Senate.

They could also run for the state House.

If they and the rest of the candidates really want to make a mark on policy in America, if they really want to change people’s lives, there are 50 capitals where they’d be guaranteed to do that in 2020.

Not in Washington, D.C.

The problem starts and stops in Washington, where the candidates are all trying to go.

As Congress has gotten more bogged down in gridlock and meaningful legislation has gotten harder and harder to pass, state legislatures have taken over the issues that Washington can’t or won’t deal with.

Whether it’s abortion rights, climate change, gun safety, health care, prescription drug prices or any of a dozen other issues that federal lawmakers used to handle, states are increasingly passing measures restricting or advancing the most pressing issues of our time.

Lobbyists know it.

Interest groups know it. When will candidates looking for real impact figure it out too?

So far in 2019, nine states have passed significant abortion restrictions, while two more have lifted nearly all restrictions completely.

Among the states restricting abortion were Ohio, Indiana and Georgia, states that 2020 hopefuls call home.

What if they had been in their state House or Senate this year instead of making plans for the Iowa State Fair?

Would the exact same bills have advanced, or would a seasoned, ambitious lawmaker have been able to change them, even a little?

Earlier this year, while the U.S. House passed its first gun safety measure in years, knowing it would die in the Senate without a vote, multiple states took up gun safety legislation after mass shootings devastated their local communities.

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Texas had a major gun debate that O’Rourke or Julian Castro probably could have led the fight on, had they not been running for even higher office.

Could they have made more of a difference in Austin than Iowa?

Yes.

The Indiana Legislature also passed hate crimes legislation this year, but the new law lacks language for crimes motivated by a person’s gender or gender identity.

Could Mayor Pete have changed that with a seat in the state Senate instead of a seat on “The Late Show”?

It’s possible. It’s not to say that his candidacy, with a loving husband by his side, isn’t inspirational to many, but is the goal to inspire people or to protect them?

I was thinking about the futility of so much of the 2020 field a few weeks ago when I went to see Bernie Sanders at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama.

Nobody thought the Vermont senator would make a dent in 2016.

However, he not only gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money, he managed to move a number of ideas that used to be called “radical” into the Democratic mainstream.

And isn’t Bernie more powerful after running and losing than he would have been had he never run for president at all?

Absolutely.

But I met a young woman at that same Sanders rally who reminded me that going out into the world, collecting your experience, and then taking it home to make a change in people’s lives is a powerful act in itself.

Jasmyn Story introduced Sanders at the Birmingham rally in front of the iconic 16th Street Baptist Church.

Dressed in a chic jumpsuit and headscarf, the 26-year-old activist explained that she had come down from New York, where she works in restorative justice.

She had moved to New York from London, where she earned a master’s degree from University College London.

What I didn’t know until later was that Jasmyn had grown up in Birmingham, playing in the same park where Sanders spoke, in front of the church where, on a Sunday morning in 1963, four Klansmen had detonated 15 sticks of dynamite and killed four young African American girls.

The youngest, 11-year-old Denise McNair, was Jasmyn’s family.

“Jasmyn has grown up with the heart of Denise,” Jasmyn’s mother, Ava Denise McNair Story, told me after the Sanders rally.

Mrs. Story was overwhelmed with emotion that day.

Not only had her daughter just introduced a presidential candidate in front of the church where her little cousin been killed, Jasmyn had also decided to move back to Birmingham to work on social justice issues and racial reconciliation there.

Her daughter was coming home.

“She loves this city. We love this city. Our family is part of this city’s history,” Mrs. Story said. “Jasmyn has lived all over the world. For her to come back to Birmingham, Alabama ... she can make a difference here.”

If the 2020 Democrats want to do something really, truly important, the only place where many of them should run is home.

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Patricia Murphy covers national politics for The Daily Beast. Previously, she was the Capitol Hill bureau chief for Politics Daily and founder and editor of Citizen Jane Politics. Follow her on Twitter @1PatriciaMurphy.

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(26) comments

Redwall

There is one key flaw in Murphy's logic: most of their home states dont want them either.

PhysicsIsFun

Many of the Democratic presidential candidates already hold office in their home state.

mocha1

Even the democrats are alarmed at their host of candidates. Remember in 2015 When we had bunches of Repubs running for president the Libs made fun of the circus. Now we have the Dems running a real clown circus with the candidates trying to outgive each other with free stuff. Biden today told us he was going to cure cancer. OMG

PhysicsIsFun

Walker was a hilarious member of that circus.

Climatehoax

Good idea! First, let’s look at the DemoRat run sheet holes for cities, Chicago, Baltimore, San Fran, etc,etc. . It proves Dems couldn't manage a one hole outhouse.

PhysicsIsFun

Fix your computer, Your dumb comments make less sense than usual.

Cassandra2

If you want a better government, be a better citizen. If that means running for president in a huge field, do it! Don't listen to the wingnuts who never want any new ideas presented.

oldhomey

Somehow I found this column to be pointless. We have a new reality in politics today, and Donald Trump changed that, if credit must be given to him for something. The Republicans were faced with a similar challenge in their 2016 primaries, with a nearly impossibly large field of candidates to choose from, most of them with political resumes that ranged from impeccable to at least decent. And who did the Republicans choose? The most indecent, disreputable, truth and reality-challenged, inexperienced and unqualified yahoo of the bunch. I don't know how the present and future generations are going to deal with this, but God help the country if we don't find a better weeding out process than what we have. I also found the following portion of Ms. Murphy's column puzzling, coming from what I assume to be a progressive female political pundit: "Jasmyn Story introduced Sanders at the Birmingham rally in front of the iconic 16th Street Baptist Church. "Dressed in a chic jumpsuit and headscarf, the 26-year-old activist explained that she had come down from New York, where she works in restorative justice." If her mode of dress was worth mentioning, perhaps she should have included Sen. Sander's attire, as well. I was not there, but I think it would be safe to say that he was "dressed in an inexpensive, baggy, nondescript, off-the-rack department store suit." I take the #MeToo movement seriously and applaud it for the changes in society that it has brought about, but I also think it needs to lighten up a bit. It attacks male writers for daring to describe a female subject in any way. And, far more disturbing, researchers are discovering that more than 60 percent of male supervisors in business are now scared to death of mentoring female subordinates, having one-on-one meetings with them and, God forbid, taking them along on a crucial out-of-town business trip, Males in workplace situations and all situations have to treat their female counterparts as equals and with the same respect that they would hope to be treated by other individuals, male or female. But the #MeToo movement does not want to become so dogmatic that its efforts will in some ways make situations even worse for females. We live in trying times. If I sound befuddled by it all, I am.

DMoney

The only reason Trump won was precisely because he was NOT a candidate with "political resumes". Most conservatives I know do view politicians as questionable, at best. Even good politicians. Despite this, I voted for someone else during every other opportunity until I was faced with the worst case scenario of Trump vs. Clinton.

oldhomey

And you voted for the worst case scenario. Aren't you happy? The majority of Americans, three million more than those who voted for Trump, voted for somebody with an outstanding political resume. She may not have been the most likeable, but she would have made a good president. If most conservatives view even good politicians as questionable, the wisdom, reasoning and thinking the rest of us should be questioning is not the good politicians, but the conservative voters. And for good reason. Look who they helped put in the White House.

DMoney

No, not happy at all. Dismayed on a daily basis, actually. I'd have literally rather voted for anyone rather than Hillary Clinton. She's the poster child for a corrupt snake of a politician. I'd have strongly considered Bernie, for many of the same reasons that I found Trump relatively tolerable. Millions felt like I did. But in your party's infinite wisdom and forward thinking, you nominated the least electable candidate maybe in history. Well done.

PhysicsIsFun

I voted for Clinton. She had fabulous experience and is very smart. Of course Fox News and the right wing smear machine spent 20 years attacking Hillary which convinced many not to vote for her, because they believed that fiction. Plus Trump was the most unqualified, disgusting, inappropriate person to ever be nominated for president. Only the Republican Party could come up with such a candidate. Then there was Russian influence in the election, and of course Hillary won the popular vote. We now have minority rule at the federal and state level. It is not a good scenario, and please don't lecture me about a constitutional republic. We live in a society that is supposed represent the will of the majority with respect for the minority.

DMoney

No we don't. We live in a country defined by the Constitution of the United States of America (including it's amendments). Any other argument, while humorous, is blatantly untrue.

martian2

oh yes we do D. The constitution is not fixed in stone, it can be amended to reflect the needs and rights of the citizens of this country. Just like abolishing slaver and women's right to vote. And the interpretation of the constitution changes over the decades as the supreme court decides what best serves this nation. Any other argument is wrong.

martian2

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." Abraham Lincoln You see there D, the constitution doesn't own us, we the people own the constitution to do with as our nation deems necessary and prudent in order to provide for the common good. I'll take credit for that last statement. [smile]

DMoney

Soooo.... you agree with me? Your point self-collapses with your quote from Abe Lincoln...

martian2

to a point I agree with you, but we are not owned by the constitution nor by those who want to pervert it. That is the point I am making, one you seem to fail to recognize. My point doesn't collapse, it proves itself.

DMoney

Perverting the Constitution is fundamentally changing it to be something that it isn't. Something like elimination the electoral college or banning guns. I don't know many conservatives who support doing this. Liberals, on the other hand.........

martian2

perverting the constitution actually means to interpret it as it was never meant to be. Amending the constitution is not perverting it, it is a legal and acceptable way to making rare changes. Perverting it would be going against its principle doctrines, such as a government take over of the press, or going to war without the approval of congress. That would be perversion.

oldhomey

D, we have the Mueller report that enumerates the president's crimes that await being visited upon him as formal charges. You ask for proof of his crimes, there it is. Now it is my turn and others on here, like Physics, to ask you to show us proof of these horrible crimes that you say Mrs. Clinton is guilty of. Do you believe the Buggs Raplin conspiracy senario that she murdered Vince Foster and a n umber of ohers, plus the pizza parlor child sex abuse/enslavement scenario? Proof, please. The krappola rolled out by right-wingers regarding Benghazi, personal email servers, foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation? They were investigated ad nauseum by various Republican-led committees, and they came up with nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zero. Remember? And do you remember all the grandstanding Republicans who called her in for their public inquisitions? She made mincemeat out of them, leaving them look like muttering, helpless fools. So you have better evidence than them?

DMoney

Evidence of a crime? What crime? Have charges been filed? No? Then no crime charged or tried or committed. Can't have evidence to a crime that hasn't been charged. Regarding Hillary, she openly and publicly admitted to using poor judgement with the emails. The fact that you call it "krappola" is astoundingly bizarre. Even Hillary Clinton would disagree with you. Foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation? "Krappola"? Go to the Clinton Foundation website and look at the public "thank you" list for donations of $10-25 million. I'm embarrassed for you. Benghazi? She used her personal email server to communicate about the situation. When the attack occured: "In the days following the September 11, 2012 assault in Benghazi, Clinton and other administration officials linked the attack to protests in various places in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam movie trailer released on the internet. However, U.S. intelligence officials ultimately concluded that the assault using mortars and other weapons was not a spontaneous outpouring of anger but an organized attack." - Politico Anything else?

oldhomey

D? Got anything to say here?

oldhomey

Good Lord, D, either you are becoming unhinged or you are more naive than I give you credit for. These are your words: "Can't have evidence to a crime that hasn't been charged." Do you have even the most basic knowledge of how the criminal justice system works in our country under our constitution? Apparently not. The Mueller report enumerates many crimes the president seems to have committed. You apparently have not read it, nor have you listened to Mr. Mueller, who said he cannot exonerate Trump of these crimes, but he cannot charge a sitting president with committing them, that only Congress can do that. Several different hostile, Republican congressional committees investigated Mrs. Clinton's use of private email (a breach of policy apparently common in all administrations, including the Trump administration and the Trump family itself), and it could not charge her with a crime. Tell us what crime she should be charged with viz a viz Benghazi, D, another issue the congressional committees tried to pin on her and ended up castrating themselves on it while being forced to wipe copious amounts of egg from their faces. Please, sir, don't deal in generalities. If you say she is guilty of crimes, lay them out for us, as Robert Mueller did with the crimes of Donald Trump. Evidence of a crime? What crime? Have charges been filed? No? Then no crime charged or tried or committed. Can't have evidence to a crime that hasn't been charged. Regarding Hillary, she openly and publicly admitted to using poor judgement with the emails. The fact that you call it "krappola" is astoundingly bizarre. Even Hillary Clinton would disagree with you. Foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation? "Krappola"? Go to the Clinton Foundation website and look at the public "thank you" list for donations of $10-25 million. I'm embarrassed for you. Benghazi? She used her personal email server to communicate about the situation. When the attack occured: "In the days following the September 11, 2012 assault in Benghazi, Clinton and other administration officials linked the attack to protests in various places in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam movie trailer released on the internet. However, U.S. intelligence officials ultimately concluded that the assault using mortars and other weapons was not a spontaneous outpouring of anger but an organized attack." - Politico Anything else?

new2Lax

What difference does it make now. I would imagine destroying e-mails under subpoena would qualify as a crime. Paying Russia for the dossier is Russia collusion for sure. Information derived from Russian operatives through Perkins Coie law firm in association with Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson.

oldhomey

Thank you, new2, for inserting your totally expected false Fox News talking points. They underscore your inability to think for yourself, but that has been evident for years from your inane, clumsy comments on these boards.

martian2

get rid of gerry mandering and voter suppression laws and you would have free and fair elections at the state level. Until then more corruption, more extremism, and more stalemates at the state level. Not much different than D.C.

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