Prospective Presidential Candidates

Michael Bennet PPC #8

I enjoyed listening to Michael Bennett. He is a lot more even keeled in his presentation than most politicians, letting his ideas do more of the talking than the way he presents them.

The focus was on education and on advancing policy that is broadly supported. That’s not to say that Michael Bennet is a proponent of bipartisanship. He made a point to note that Democrats need to be just as strategic in their legislating as Mitch McConnell and republicans in the senate have been, but also called McConnell’s treatment of Merick Garland the worst thing he’s experienced in the senate. Bennet added that’s saying something given the sociopaths in the senate. So while he is in favor of bipartisan governance, and opposed to the view that politics is a sport in which a party is either winning or losing, he is not about bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship. He is about bringing forward ideas that are supported by a diverse set of constituents. As an example he mentioned the background check legislation Nancy Pelosi advanced in the house, a policy with 90% support. Michael Bennet also referenced his work garnering support from a diverse set of citizens in Colorado which is home to 1/3 independents, 1/3 republicans and 1/3 democrats.

I don’t recall anything particularly distinguishable about his education policy, I don’t take notes. Like many others he is in favor of universal preschool, improved K-12, and free community college that also supports education in the trades, and some form of relief for those holding student debt. A large part of the education discussion was about the separation in funds, wealth and performance from school to school in this country. Michael Bennet, a former superintendent in Colorado, noted that a former superintendent of Chicago schools noted that the per pupal funds in one portion of Chicago was $6,500, while in another it was $18,000, and there is only so much that can be done in those circumstances. The Colorado approach to address this is to collect all funds and then disperse them in a more even manner.

The attendance was limited enough I had the good fortune of getting to ask about decision making during the town hall portion of the event. Michael gave a very brief speech, not really a stump speech, before jumping into the town hall questions, which went well over an hour.

I asked, “You can learn a candidate’s policies, with some notable exceptions (e.g., Mayor Pete), from legislative record and special interest scorecards or their websites. However, things can change very quickly in the world and new policies may be needed. How do you make decisions, how will your administration make decisions, and what education and training in decision making do you have?”

Michael Bennet noted that this wasn’t a question he has been asked before, but that it is a very important question. Bennet gave what apparently is the standard response to this question, addressing the need to have a high quality and diverse staff, a staff that challenges the president and raises the standard that can be achieved. He contrasted this approach with the approach of the Trump administration, referring back to a previous response regarding the inexperience of individuals appointed in the current administration and the need to make higher quality appointments. He also stated a president should surround himself with people smarter than themselves, and should be thoughtful, rather than reactive in the decisions they make, unlike Trump. I didn’t get a response to the education and training portion of the question.

Summary: In this crowded field I’m not sure what about Michael Bennet will distinguish his campaign enough from others to garner support. Overall I liked Michael Bennet though, which is more than I can say about most politicians. I’m excited by the overall quality of the candidates I’ve spoken with this cycle.

Ranking of those I’ve meet so far: listed in preferential order within tiers.

  • Tier 1: Andrew Yang
  • Tier 2: Bernie Sanders*, Elizabeth Warren
  • Tier 3: Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke
  • Tier 4: Cory Booker, Michael Bennet
  • Tier 5: Tulsi Gabbard, Pete Buttigieg
  • Tier Nope: tbd
  • *(Based on past meetings and campaign launch video, w/o the decision-making question response)

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