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Four debates into the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, and it's plain as day that there's not a candidate in the bunch with the skills and character to lead America out of its current dark place.

And there's not one sitting in the White House, either.

So unless the cast changes soon, 2020 will be another election in which Americans will be asked to hold their noses and pick between two sorry major party candidates.

Until 2016, I cast my ballot for Republicans in every presidential election since I was old enough to vote. But as a Reagan Republican with a perhaps naive belief that the Oval Office should be reserved for individuals of impeccable character and committed to leading all of America, I could not vote for Trump. Nor could I vote for Hillary Clinton, whose ruthless ambition and history of self-dealing were cloaked in greater sophistry than were Trump's flaws, but were no less disqualifying.

So I dropped my vote on a loopy third party candidate and have no regrets. If my choice next fall is between Trump and a member of the cast of mediocrity that appeared on the Democratic debate stage Tuesday, I'll do the same.

America needs a big president in 2020. A president who can pull the nation away from the political fringes with inspired, inclusive leadership. Always before in times of crisis, a leader has risen equal to the challenge.

Trump had his shot and failed. I don't see anyone among the pack of yapping Democratic poodles with the potential for greatness.

Rather, those with the best chance of getting the nomination are either beyond their prime or pitching a revolution that would destroy the country, or both.

Look at the front-runners. Joe Biden has a superior resume but diminishing faculties, and his vision is focused on the past. Bernie Sanders is even older than Biden and, if given the chance, would tear down the foundation of America's economic system, and it's prosperity, and set us on a course toward Venezuela.

Elizabeth Warren is Bernie-lite, convinced there's no problem the country can't solve by robbing the rich. The trouble with America, she believes, is that it has too many wealthy people, not too few. Odd, given that she's got a bundle herself.

The rest of the field is made up of minor league politicians with largely untested skills. If I had a gun to my head and had to choose one, at this point it would be South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who won the common sense award in Tuesday's debate when he cautioned against further dividing Americans by  stripping them of their private health insurance.

But he has some squirrelly ideas, including stacking the Supreme Court and his contention that life begins at birth, as if lightning strikes in the delivery room to change inanimate into animate. And it's a huge leap from mid-town mayor to the White House.

When the Israelites were in desperation, they cried out to God to give them a King. America should cry out for a president.

nfinley@detroitnews.com

Catch Nolan Finley on One Detroit at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on Detroit Public Television.

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