I believe next to defeating Trump. the most important thing a candidate can do in be an influencer."
Likewise, the most important thing a President can do is be an "influencer"-- especially in the modern era of social networks. Let me define this a little more strictly than is done on social networks. I mean more than just having a large collection of followers.
From history, TR (progressive era) and FDR (New Deal and liberalism) were influencers by my definition-- Americans changed their world outlook because of them. Unfortunately, Reagan (modern conservatism) was an influencer too-- Reagan made antipathy toward the government and aggressive self-interest popular and they remain so. Trump is an influencer too, not so much policy-wise but his crass ugly behavior is redefining what is an acceptable public demeanor. History seems to suggest that one needs to win the Presidency to really influence the body politic, but perhaps that is becoming somewhat less true in the era of social networks.
If a candidate can actually change hearts and minds about everyone in the country being in this place we call America together, he or she will have succeeded regardless of whether they win the nomination. Can he/she promote the positive role of the government, civil/equal and other rights (health, freedom from poverty, opportunity, college education, clean environment) for all? This counts for a lot. Such a person might be the next FDR, but even if he or she is not, perhaps his/her actions will help bring about the next FDR by having shifted public opinion so that the political environment is permissive.
To the extent that our candidates can get people to think about and maybe change their minds about these key ideas, they are doing a great service independently of whether they ultimately win the nomination. I find it encouraging that many if not most of our candidates are trying to become "influencers' before they reach the Presidency. A good example of what i mean is Beto O' Rourke going to gun shows to discuss an assault weapons ban with the attendees, and then making such discussions public-- that's the kind of thing that may eventually change minds.
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