The stakes in next year’s presidential contest couldn’t be higher. Yet, for the moment, the Democratic Party is mired in a distracting, potentially self-defeating, intramural debate.

Some in the party want to stage a revolution — starting with scrapping private health insurance that currently serves 250 million Americans, placing everyone on a “Medicare for All” system. But it wouldn’t end there.

It would also include free education at public colleges, forgiving student debt, decriminalizing illegal entry into the country and providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants. Some Democratic candidates even advocate a federal job guarantee, a “universal basic income” or the licensing of guns.

Others say, wait a minute, you can’t win in 2020 brandishing plans with dubious public support. Such ideas may excite the most progressive faction of the Democratic base — but that group represents less than 25% of the party, composed mainly of highly educated white voters. What’s needed, therefore, is a less radical, more incremental approach.

In a normal election, such soul searching might be tolerated. But, right now, nothing should distract Democrats from this overriding imperative: replacing Donald J. Trump as president. As Thomas Friedman recently exclaimed in the New York Times: “Spare me the revolution! It can wait. Win the presidency, hold the House and narrow the spread in the Senate, and a lot of good things can be accomplished.”

For those insisting on upheaval now, Friedman adds: “I’ll give the left a revolution now: four more years of Donald Trump.” He’s right, because, unburdened by the need to seek re-election, Trump would run roughshod over every American value, principle or norm standing in his way of warding off impeachment and avoiding jail — a national nightmare of unimaginable consequences.

Please don’t tell me that by arguing for a more moderate stance I’m somehow giving voice to Trump talking points. In the first place, who the “bleep” cares; Trump’s going to smear, distort, distract and lie about everything. He’ll cast the Democratic nominee as a “commie” socialist (or worse), irrespective of whatever policy proposals are on the table.

In the second place, focusing on what most Americans would be willing to support represents strength not weakness. A pragmatic approach to governing is, in fact, what our system demands, forging compromises, moving ahead on common ground, not rebuilding from the outer edges. Any suggestion that such an approach would make the Democratic nominee an easy pushover is pure poppycock.

What Democrats need the most is a candidate that will help unify the country, someone who can reach independents and moderates in both parties (not just the far left reaches of one party).

This election won’t be won by advancing unsettling, unproven and unobtainable ideas. Rather, it should, and hopefully will, be an epic battle over who we are as a people (our values, our beliefs).

Donald Trump doesn’t understand how to govern or what it means to be an American. Utterly incapable of engaging in substantive debate, he unceasingly attacks and blames others when things don’t go his way. Even more frightening, he exhibits no restraint in upending the normal constitutional order — attacking freedom of the press, disrespecting the rule of law and ignoring the separation of powers. Instead of looking for ways to unify Americans, he’s chosen to spew anger and hatred, further dividing Americans.

That’s why Democrats don’t need someone with a radical plan. They just need someone who’s the opposite of Trump, a decent, empathetic, highly competent straight-shooter dedicated to unifying and uplifting America. Someone who’ll heal the country, not send us on a mission impossible that’ll divide and anger people further.

Yes, emphasize Trump’s broken promises and chaotic flip-flopping; but, mostly, let his irrational, incoherent, and increasingly unhinged public rants speak for themselves.

All the while, focus relentlessly on a few aspirational goals that Americans can easily understand and accept: 1) building upon the Affordable Care Act, 2) creating a massive job program linked to a long-term Infrastructure plan, 3) establishing universal pre-K, 4) restructuring the tax code so the super wealthy pay more, and 5) proposing a system of national service for young Americans (designed to help relieve the cost of college).

That’s a “radical” but realistic program most Americans could rally around.

Carl Ramey, a retired Washington communications attorney and monthly contributor to The Sun, lives in Gainesville.