The presidential field of hopefuls has narrowed, but for liberal working-class voters the waters are as murky as ever.

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Federation of Labor Convention hosted by the AFL-CIO at the Prairie Meadows Hotel in Altoona, Iowa. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

For Democrats hoping to chart a clear course to defeating Donald Trump in 2020, provided no one impeaches him first, the way should be smooth sailing.

It should be easy.

That it isn’t illustrates how adept Donald Trump has been in amplifying discord within the Democratic party. And how inept Democratic leadership has been at counterbalancing him.

Primaries are meant to be a little messy. Hats are thrown into the ring, hats are snatched back. Promises of later appointments are made. Choice cabinet positions change hands. People are told by the party powers that be to wait, and they wait. They are told to stand down, and they stand down.

Democratic primaries are for hammering out ideas, testing new ideologies, getting a feel for the mood of the electorate. They are for spending as little as possible of the campaign war chest; campaign war chests are for general elections. Against Republicans.

Primaries that turn into protracted and nasty affairs- with allegations of an establishment fix, entire sections of key demographics that sit out the subsequent election in protest, and hard feelings that last longer than the latest Trump outrage cycle- are another matter entirely.

A weak front runner like former Vice President Joe Biden has left the Democratic primary wide-open and Democrats have flocked to this field of Presidential dreams by the dozens.

From the strangely lovely reasonings of new-age spiritual guru Marianne Williamson, to the universal income promises of tech-mogul Andrew Yang, to the non-stop plans of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, this campaign season has had its surreal moments. There has been hand-raising and hand-wringing. So far, the Democratic debates have been a theatre of the politically absurd.

Tonight may be night three of the debates, but for voters hoping to make a decision about who best to take on Republican incumbent President Donald Trump, the field remains as murky as ever.

Democrats have either, depending on your media news sources, A.) painted themselves into a corner that involves a preference for death before the dishonor of seeing Donald Trump reelected in 2020 or B.) been chosen to face the most evil man to ever walk the Earth in an epic battle of good versus evil for the soul of America.

Democrats are always melodramatically addressing a nation that needs saving from Donald Trump; and that’s about where Democratic unity ends. Donald Trump is the crisis and they are the cure. That they are the crisis that led to Donald Trump is never mentioned. Trump’s personae is all.

Or as Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone recently put it, America is the first country to ever elect a mad king. Taibbi must have been breaking liberal rank a little too often lately- with a few too many of his stories being lauded by conservative news sites and lambasted by liberal ones- to have to resort to writing such nonsense.

The world has certainly seen its share of mad kings. Chosen a fair few of them by popular election, too, come to that. Truman nuked two Japanese cities, lest we forget. Henry the VIII springs to mind, as do the entire Ptolemy family, of which Cleopatra was the last.

They had an almost absurd penchant for killing off fellow Ptolemy family members. Xerxes comes to mind, too. The movie “300” was a bit campy- Stephen Pressfield’s book that inspired the movie is much better.

Neither went into much detail about what Xerxes did to members of his own royal court who displeased him or were suspected of betrayal.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Trump’s ex-wives are all alive and well. He hasn’t assassinated any members of his own family, that we know of, and he certainly isn’t well known for the brutality of his torture methods.

That is, unless you believe that the U.S. President enforcing U.S. immigration laws, just as all the U.S. Presidents before him have, somehow amounts to torture and murder.

Not everyone agrees.

Taking such extreme positions as abolishing ICE, opening U.S. borders, and providing undocumented immigrants with free health care may be more about morally opposing Donald Trump than passing reasonable legislation. The public needle hasn’t moved as far as progressives would like on certain issues, immigration being one of them.

Climate change is another. The Democratic electorate may agree that human-driven climate change is going to become a huge problem in the future, but not everyone has agreed to pay for it.

Now, ahead of tonight’s debates we have Sen. Kamala Harris, in a bid to keep her campaign viable, announcing plans for a massive $10 trillion dollar plan to fight climate change.

…By raising taxes on all the businesses who have erstwhile been enjoying the benefits of the Trump tax plan. Oh, and by ramping up litigation against U.S. companies as well. Meanwhile, China and India continue to pollute at will.

While the Democrats stump on increasingly far-fetched plans to fight global climate change, they continue to ignore low-income voters and working people in the Democratic Party.

People depend on cheap fuel to heat their homes; they depend on their jobs.

Working class voters from all walks of life have concerns Democratic candidates simply are not addressing; lack of affordable health care, the U.S. opioid addiction crisis.

Yes, people should care about the environment. Yes, voters should feel morally obligated to help people seeking asylum in the U.S.

But have you ever had your electricity cut off for non-payment?

Universal morality is nice, if you can afford it. For Americans who are still struggling to make ends meet month after month, living paycheck to paycheck is a more prescient concern.

It’s time Democratic candidates start acting like it.

Because you can bet Donald Trump is.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)