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The Right Answer
How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation
by John K. Delaney
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
John Delaney made the cut for the June 25-26, 2019, Democratic primary debates, so we excerpted his book. John Delaney's history includes founding a healthcare company and becoming independently wealthy; using his wealth to finance start-up businesses; and beating an incumbent Congressional Republican then winning re-election twice in Maryland. His history might make people say, "This guy is a strong presidential contender" -- but in 2020's over-crowded Democratic primary, most people say, "John who?"
John Delaney was the very first candidate to announce for President against Donald Trump, on July 28, 2017 (that's 6 months after Trump took office, and 18 months before Delaney's term in Congress was to end). Delaney opted out of running for re-election so he could focus on running for the presidency. Delaney is moderate and bipartisan – he writes that he was "ranked as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress, a designation I was proud of" (p. 8). Delaney's main complaint against Trump is Trump's immoderate partisanship, writing that Trump's election "wasn't going to stop me from working with the other side to get things done" (p. 9).
Delaney defines himself by "the importance of telling the truth" (p, 21), in contrast to Trump, presumably. Delaney focuses on truth-telling learned from his dad for personal relations; from his business dealings; and in his public policies. Delaney's goal is to rebuild trust in government by offering himself as a trustworthy president, and much of this book focuses on establishing that trustworthiness. But he has a long way to go to re-establish trust: a Gallup poll at the time this book was written, asking about trust in Congress, has 59% of Americans declaring "not very much" or "none at all" (9/12/2018).
Delaney comes across as a "policy wonk" – very detailed long-winded and hence very challenging for us to excerpt! -- who has never mastered the "sound bite." (Presidential candidates get on TV news with brief, 5-to-10-second video clips called "sound bites," which means candidates need to practice summarizing their policy stances in 5-to-10-second intervals). Delaney has not accomplished that, and is aware of the problem: "At first, I'd go to events and give wonky speeches packed with numbers and facts, because that's what I thought people wanted to hear. Unfortunately, they just thought I was boring" (p. 150).
Delaney doesn't have a "pet policy" like some other candidates (for example, Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) is running for president to highlight climate change; and Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK) is running for president to highlight American militarism). Delaney's "pet topic" is bipartisanship – with a well-rounded business background and moderate voting record.
Delaney's business background does highlight his policy stances as more liberal than the usual successful businessman. He made his fortune providing small loans to businesses that banks considered too small and too risky -- that is known in policy circles as "micro-lending" and is a popular liberal policy, especially abroad. Delaney is aware of the popularity of that liberal policy abroad; he cites Grameen Bank from the 1980s as a model (p. 98). Delaney also predicted the 2008 economic collapse based on CDO's (collateralized debt obligations, one of the causes of the Great Recession) and got out of the CDO business in 2007, calling it "a giant Ponzi scheme" that "looked too much like storm clouds for me not to take cover" (p. 121). In other words, he is financially savvy enough to have recognized the coming financial collapse.
Bottom line: Delaney would be a strong candidate in any year except 2019. Maybe he'll survive the debates as the moderate bipartisan alternative, although Joe Biden also claims the moderate bipartisan alternative label, so that seems unlikely. More likely, Delaney will make a name for himself in the 2020 presidential race and become eligible for Maryland's Governor or Senator.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, June 2019
How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation
by John K. Delaney.
Page last edited: Jun 26, 2019