New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was driving himself from the Washington, D.C., area, where he lives, to Baltimore for "a golf lesson" when an idea for a news analysis crystalized.
He realized in recent days people had kept buttonholing him on the street and saying, "Trump's gonna get re-elected, isn't he?" These were not folks who supported Donald J. Trump as president; these were anti-Trumpers.
Why was he hearing such remarks? Friedman wondered. What was running through these people's heads?
I got an answer a few days ago from a local friend, an appraiser and occasional home builder from Ashland. I'd asked him, "What do you think of Trump with all this racism going on?"
And he responded, "The problem is what's happening with the Democrats." I picked it up from there, "You mean the rush to the far left?"
"Absolutely," my friend replied. This is a guy who I believe voted for Trump but who would drop Trump like a hot potato if offered the chance to vote for a moderate Democrat, man or woman. But he doesn't see that as where the Democratic Party is headed.
Neither does Tom Friedman, who describes himself as "a centrist Democrat," and neither do I.
Friedman asked Democrats, "Do you want a Revolution? Or do you want Trump removed from the White House." The implication: You can't have both.
In my conversation with my Ashland friend, I ticked off "reparations for black Americans, free college for everyone, no more private health insurance, shut down all the fossil fuel companies immediately, expand abortion rights"
He nodded. "Exactly. All that stuff."
But those rather extreme positions are examples of what we've been hearing so far in the Democratic candidates' debates on cable TV news stations.
The country is hungry for sanity, for a return to intelligent government founded upon serious knowledge of and respect for the U.S. Constitution. Hungry for someone who will stand up and tell the truth, who will surround him or herself with good advisors and listen to them, who will restore our ties to the U.K. and our European allies.
Reasonable voters from center right to center to center left are sick and tired of the bloviating, narcissistic Trump show. They want to see someone who can take Trump on and call him out for his pathological lying and his mindless policy switches. And his cozying up to murderous autocrats such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
But that is not what they're seeing among the current crop of Democratic candidates. That crew seems to do nothing more than push one another farther and farther toward outright socialistic approaches to governance.
The pack is led by Vermont Independent-turned-Democrat Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Sen. Kamala Harris. But even steady-as-you-go moderate Joe Biden, vice president under Barack Obama and former senator from Delaware, seems inclined to match those three on the push to the left.
He caved, for instance, on his previous stance of upholding the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal money being used to fund abortions. There went, potentially, droves of moderate Catholics and evangelicals who abhor the idea that their tax monies would be spent on providing abortions. I'm in that number myself.
Steve Bullock, governor of Montana, joins the debate platform for the first time tonight on CNN. He's plainspoken, a Democrat elected to run a prototypical red state, an outdoorsman and a thoughtful pragmatist. Pay attention to Bullock. He may just be the savior the Democratic Party needs.
John Patrick Grace formerly worked for The Associated Press as a reporter in Chicago, an editor in New York and a correspondent in Rome. He lives in eastern Cabell County, edits books and teaches The Life Writing Class.