What we'll get in November may be something else, but what America needs is a presidential election between two vastly different ideas about governing this country.
What we need is an election between President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont.
Put aside the personal foibles, the bloviating, name-calling and sometimes mean-spiritedness of the president and the cranky, yelling, get-off-my-lawn demeanor of the senator.
We need an election that pits our largely capitalistic economy against one that has more of aspects of socialism. In other words, we need to determine if we want most of the country's trade and industry in private hands or in the hands of a collective (in this case, the federal government).
A Trump-Sanders election would do that. A Trump-Joe Biden election would not.
To be sure, Biden would not govern like Trump. He's no moderate, as he's been termed for the Democratic primary, but a full-throated liberal. The great majority of his adult life has been spent in public office, so he's as entrenched a bureaucracy-loving, free-spending, partisan Democrat as has run for president in the last century.
But for the most part, he has lived within the country's lanes as a constitutional republic. He doesn't have in mind plans, as his main Democratic opponent does, to give the federal government authority over some 70% of the economy, as pundits have noted.
We need the election between Trump and Sanders because we need a long-term airing over the summer and fall of the failures of socialism. We need to mention — and mention again, and again — Venezuela and Cuba and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where Sanders honeymooned in the late 1980s because he thought so much of its form of government.
We need to bring up the Western European socialist democracies that the Vermont senator often floats as models for the United States. What he never tells, though, is both how the countries have many aspects of U.S. capitalism and how they have abandoned many of the socialist ideas they tried that the senator now would like to foist on our country.
The type of socialism Sanders has in mind has never worked across the globe.
However, many of the senator's younger supporters never lived through the poverty of the masses in socialistic countries, never learned about the evils of socialism in school, and don't understand that promises of largess from the federal government must be paid for in some way.
They don't know that a similar type of government to which Sanders espouses was responsible for 50 million or more deaths in China and 20 to 30 million in the USSR.
No, they hear free health care, a free college education, the forgiveness of college debt, the promise of a job and the promise that the wealthy will pay a lot more and — selfishly and blindingly but understandably — believe that's just what the country needs.
In fact, the country needs the contrast of what three years under the Trump economy has done and what examples of the type of economy Sanders would like have done across the globe.
The remaining race to the Democratic nomination between Sanders and Biden should be interesting. The energy of the party — in espousing something radically different for the country — is with Sanders. The establishment of the party — in believing that beating Trump is more important than something radically different for the country — is with Biden.
What the Biden crowd forgets to its peril, though, is that he offers a return to the eight years under President Barack Obama, the man he served as vice president and now clings to in his speeches and advertising (but who has not endorsed him). But in 2016, the U.S. had had quite enough of Obama and wanted something else entirely.
The idea that there is a teeming majority that wants to return to slow economic growth, government by phone and pen, strangling regulations and foreign policy like a one-sided Iran nuclear agreement is fantastical. And we're not sure even those who appreciated Obama, the man, for his cool detachment, will find the same love for a baggage-ridden, gaffe-prone septuagenarian bureaucrat.
No, we hope the remaining primary states will rally behind Sanders and give him the Democratic nomination. The country needs to have a national discussion about whether it wants to, as Ronald Reagan put it in 1964, "preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or ... sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness."