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Dear Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg,

You are my two favorite presidential candidates, even though most say you occupy different locations on the political spectrum. I appreciate that you have both run carefully articulated campaigns with intelligently presented views on key issues.

I write as one of the majority of Democrats who believes that our urgent priority must be defeating the current American president. Considering his attacks on the press, the increase in income inequality fostered by his tax plan, the increased threats to the environment, his many assaults on the rule of law, his disruption of the post-World War II international order that has kept the peace between the major powers for seven decades, the way his actions have stoked racist hatreds, and so much more, he seriously threatens our foundational American values. In the face of all this, the difference between centrist and progressive Democrats seems vanishingly unimportant.

We must take no chances. We must do everything possible to defeat him. In this regard, I have a suggestion. You will begin by holding private meetings with each other, in-depth discussions including a few aides. You will explore and debate the issues, especially issues you disagree on. You will endeavor to understand the reasons for and wisdom of each other’s positions. You will be open to compromise. And the result will be a single platform that you both endorse, a platform that would appeal to a wider spectrum of voters than might either of you alone. Perhaps we should hold off on the Medicare-for-all proposal for now. Perhaps we should immediately back measures, such as tax changes, that might both reduce growing income inequality and narrow the giant budget deficit. Perhaps some other items on the progressive agenda should be included, with still others put on hold. You will likely have no trouble agreeing on reasonable measures concerning guns, education, environmental protection, and a return to the intelligent use of diplomacy as practiced by foreign service professionals.

Once you have arrived at a joint platform, which I am hoping will be very soon, you will make a dramatic public appearance together to announce a joint candidacy. Your commitment would be to govern by drawing on the combined wisdom of each other, and of many others. Given the current administration’s consistent disparagement of expertise, this last point is crucial. Perhaps it would be best to hold off on announcing who will run for which office for now, or announce a likely pairing with the option of later flipping roles left open. Acting in this way would offer a vivid contrast to the self-centered and self-aggrandizing nature of politicians today. You will present governing as a model of collaboration, and as based on considering others’ views.

Together you could become unstoppable. Committing to incorporate each other’s somewhat different perspectives would in itself send a resonant and urgent message in these divided times. You would show by the very nature of your joint candidacy how we can, listening to and learning from some of those with whom we disagree, unite against hate. You would offer living examples of the acknowledgement, rare among candidates for office, that none of us is always right. You would pledge to work for the benefit of our nation as a whole, not for yourselves and not for any one group. Americans could again learn the value of respectfully considering different views, and learn how real leadership can be exercised not only by one person acting alone but also by two or more acting together.

And perhaps, just perhaps, we Americans might also relearn how to, on occasion, love each other again.

Fred Camper
Chicago, Illinois
August 15, 2019.

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