Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick talks with State Sen. Rob Hogg (right) during a walking tour on Monday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

When famed humorist Will Rogers stated: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat,” some may believe Rogers had a clairvoyant eye on the 2020 presidential election. The political party known for successfully prospecting for defeat in the valley of victory may be at it again.

It seems that some within in the vaunted Democratic establishment are not happy with the current nominees so they have decided to look elsewhere.

Questions abound about former Vice President Joe Biden’s ability to run an effective multi state campaign, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders viability in the General Election and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s ability to appeal beyond white voters.

The Democratic donor class is panicking. The New York Times published a story in October about a dinner with some of the party’s large donors who contemplated possible late entrants into the presidential race including: Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg and Michelle Obama. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown were also being encouraged to run.

With a high mark of 27, there are currently 18 individuals seeking to be the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer against President Trump. Among those names tossed about at the donors dinner, Patrick has recently entered the Democratic fray.

In 2018, citing the cruelty of the process, Patrick declared he would not be a candidate for president, but some 11 months later, he has had a change of heart. To what slice of the Democratic Party pie will Patrick appeal that is not currently occupied by the other 17 candidates?

Patrick possesses a great story: He was born on Chicago’s South Side. While in middle school, Patrick qualified to attend the prestigious Milton Academy, which touts such notable alumni as T.S. Eliot and Ted and Robert Kennedy. He went on to obtain undergraduate and law degrees at Harvard.

Patrick’s story includes an impressive resume in the public and private sectors. In 2015, after leaving the governor’s mansion, Patrick joined Bain Capital. The last former Massachusetts governor who went to work for Bain Capital was Mitt Romney, who was eviscerated by Democrats during the 2012 presidential race as the poster child for Republican greed and callousness.

In all likelihood, Bain is not the gluttonous economic Leviathan that Democrats tarred Romney as in 2012, but it is the narrative they created and it will be difficult to walk it back on behalf of Patrick. That dog simply won’t hunt!

Underneath Patrick’s entry into the presidential race is a party that portrays itself as the one for the people but does not trust the people to nominate the right candidate. Instead of smoked-filled rooms with whiskey, party bosses now enjoy green tea and tofu burgers and communicate remotely.

They forget that the learned cabal of elders did not initially support Bill Clinton in 1992 nor Barack Obama in 2008.

Rarely does the status quo, however defined, look forward. It may take a casual glance to the not-so-distant past, but its primary focus is the immediate; that is where the status quo finds comfort. But change is not a medium rooted in comfort.

Hillary Clinton, in 2016, would be president today were it not for a combined total of 77,000 votes in three key states. Moreover, had turnout numbers been comparable to those of John Kerry’s unsuccessful 2004 bid, Clinton would most likely be president.

Methinks the Democratic Party establishment doth protest too much. Could it be their collective concern is rooted less in the viability of certain candidates and more about the declining control they would have with that individual?

The top two fundraisers for the third quarter (Sanders and Warren) have largely eschewed large money donations, focusing instead on small money donors.

Perhaps Democrats are unified in their desire to defeat President Trump, but not so much about the recalibrations they too need to undergo. If, for example, Warren were the presidential nominee, what impact could that have on the Wall Street donors, who are embroiled in a philosophical feud with her largely over tax policy, and their willingness to support Democratic Senate candidates? Could that be the difference that prohibits Democrats from retaking the Senate in 2020?

Actually, none of this really matters because elections are not settled nearly a year out.

Why would Democrats assume that only their Republican counterparts are in dire need of change? Maybe the party does not need another candidate who could bring calm to the status quo, perhaps just an active electorate to become the ultimate decision maker as to who and what the Democratic Party should stand for.

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The Rev. Byron Williams (byron@publicmorality.org), a writer and the host of “The Public Morality” on WSNC 90.5, lives in Winston-Salem.

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