The ‘best and brightest’ are passing on leading the nation

Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor who announced Wednesday he won’t run for president, has already distinguished himself as a different kind of potential presidential candidate. Unlike most politicians who are being coy with the media while claiming they haven’t made up their minds about running for office, Patrick really was weighing both sides of running and really was undecided.

Last month’s extended (and fascinating) interview in The New Yorker seemed like a well-timed prelude to a campaign. Nope.

Maybe he figured out he couldn’t get the money to run. Maybe the poll numbers were bad. Maybe only one candidate can emerge from Massachusetts. Maybe his ties to big money and his record as governor turned too many off, despite his fascinating rise from the south side of Chicago.

But his stated reason for not running is as troubling a threat to the future of democracy as any of the more acknowledged threats (looking at you, Wisconsin) these days.

Running for office isn’t worth the trouble.

After a lot of conversation, reflection and prayer, I’ve decided that a 2020 campaign for president is not for me. I’ve…

Posted by Deval Patrick on Thursday, December 6, 2018

“It’s hard to see how you even get noticed in such a big, broad field without being shrill, sensational, or a celebrity — and I’m none of those things and I’m never going to be any of those things,” he told a podcast hosted by David Axelrod, one of the members of the Obama machine that Patrick would’ve inherited if he’d decided to run.

There’s certainly an argument to be made about Patrick’s baggage and his strengths; that’s just the way the democratic process works.

But one of the startling aspects of the last presidential campaign, was how many qualified, highly regarded potential candidates stayed on the sideline, often leaving a clown car full of presidential aspirants in the field.

If the nation is to endure, we’re going to have to figure out how to have a presidential electoral process that doesn’t destroy people and families in the process of fairly vetting their credentials for holding the office.