President Donald Trump has only just completed his first 100 days, but The New York Times reported on Sunday that a “vast array of Democratic leaders” are already positioning themselves to run against him in 2020: “The list of candidates may ultimately be the largest since 1976, when Democrats lined up after Watergate for a nomination seen as offering a short path to the White House.”
The Times divides the potential candidates along generational lines, grouping Senator Bernie Sanders with former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren. These three economic populists are likely to face an ideologically diverse younger cohort, which could include senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris. (The Times also lists a series of current and former House members, governors, and mayors who might be in the mix.)
The prospect of a massive field shouldn’t alarm anyone in the Democratic Party. Though Sanders would enter the race with a constituency from last year’s campaign, no candidate would seem as inevitable or anointed as Hillary Clinton was in early 2016. A big, diverse group of candidates would help the party sort out lingering differences between the Sanders and Clinton wings, while exploring entirely different shades of progressive ideology that might emerge. Besides, if the 2016 Republican primary revealed anything, it’s that a historically crowded field—and a massive intra-party squabble—doesn’t prevent a party from winning back the White House.