The Massively Multiplayer Democratic Primary
The first time I ever gave any thought to voting for Joseph R. Biden was 2007. I was in Germany, and I found myself swayed by the passionate advocacy of a Greek Ivy Leaguer in my study abroad program, who preached the gospel of Joseph even though he couldn’t vote for the man. Also, I was insecure about the fact that this friend went to a much better school than I did, so I was inclined to follow his example.
The post-9/11 circumstances that led him to that frankly bizarre position would take too long for me to explain to contemporary audiences, so let’s just say the reasons are lost to time. Either way, while my friend would return to the states and go to work for Joe’s doomed campaign, I jumped ship the moment his once and future boss announced he was running. Ja, wir können!
Forsaking Joe Biden for Barack Obama would turn out to benefit the former immensely, because his crushing, early primary loss in ’08 netted him a gig that gave him an actual shot at being president down the line. As the first actual human being with a soul to occupy Dick Cheney’s “Darth Vader” model of the vice presidency, he performed with esteem. More importantly to the Southern black women who will decide this whole thing, he was a position player, and he never once forgot his place with respect to Obama. For all the talk of Joe Biden being a gaffe machine, his most pronounced outburst in eight years was to voice support for gay marriage before Barack was ready to.
Trump has done everything he can to destroy this world, and we need a statesman with Biden’s rolodex and depth of experience in foreign affairs to rebuild it. I think he’d be a fine president, because he’s a man whose unsteady mouth belies his steady hand and sober outlook. The depth of personal loss he has endured cultivates the kind of empathy this job requires, as was the case with Lincoln losing his own son or FDR losing his legs.
However, while that administration made Biden a going concern, it caused Obama to age five decades in the space of eight years, as if the weight of the GOP’s lies and obstruction bent spacetime around him. Joe definitely can’t hack eight years of that grueling torment, not in the wake of Trump’s rampage. His age is a problem, and his tone-deafness around the hair-trigger gender politics of the moment isn’t doing him any favors, either — I would just like to point out that he also fingerbangs every man he talks to, Obama included.
So if Southern black women suddenly decide that they don’t want to vote for a guy who is synonymous in their minds with the greatest achievement in black political history, I’ll respect their decision and move on to someone else. Maybe not as easily as I did in ’07, but I’ll move on. The only question is to whom. Since no one is exactly lighting my fire yet (Biden included), I thought I’d do a quick rundown of everyone else, listing their relative strengths and weaknesses, and taking cheap shots where I can.
Pro: Did you see this woman working over Barr? Did you see that shit? Every Republican was huffing and puffing, and every other Democrat was making some florid speech, but Kamala Harris, Esq. was surgically boxing in the AG, forcing him to either make a false statement or incriminate the president. While he demurred to the best of his abilities, flailing before her precise wording, she forced him to say something, which Trump publicly contradicted just eight days later with his admission that he asked for John Kerry to be investigated. It was frigging orgasmic, and earned her some measure of my undying loyalty.
I flat-out love listening to her talk, she has a law degree that she’s actually used (the absence of which should be way more of a dealbreaker for prospective lawmakers than it currently is) and she evinces the moderation of someone who has had to deal directly with real-world effects of policy. Despite the criticisms of her record, I feel confident she’ll pick an AG who’s part of the solution, not the problem. She knows how important criminal justice reform is, and the mere act of electing her after Trump would reassure the world that we are still a pluralistic society worth believing in, perhaps even more than Barack did after W. slithered off.
At the risk of saying the quiet part out loud about a candidate of the fairer sex, her laugh is downright intoxicating — I deliberately headed this with a subpar example of her smile just to be fair to the other candidates. Also, I lived in California in 2016, so should she win the nomination, I can spend the entire campaign smugly saying “Well, I’ve already voted for her, so…”
Also, a half-Indian president would allow America to ease into the total usurpation of our ruling class by South Asians, which as anyone who works in finance, government, medicine, academia, or management consulting could tell you, is a reckoning as unstoppable as it is inevitable. We’re all going to have to submit to our Desi aristocracy eventually, and Senator Harris’s winsome, oft-Black-AF ways make it so much easier to surrender.
Con: I’ve had mixed experiences with both cops and vice principals, and I think that’s true of a lot of voters out there.
I’m not sure I like her borderline-dictatorial campaign persona that she’s adopted recently, either. Everything I hear from her these days is something to the effect of “If Congress fails to act on gun control legislation within 90 days, I will shoot one hostage every 30 minutes until my demands are met…” I know that Republican intransigence isn’t going anywhere, but her new tack still feels like she’s learned the wrong lessons from Trump’s presidency.
Also, like all of the other senator-candidates, she was damaged by prematurely pulling the trigger on the Green New Deal frenzy, being made to look like a bit of a follower and fool in the process. In the senators’ rush to bite off AOC’s white-hot progressive energy (that was in no way, shape, or form responsible for Democrats taking the House) they signed on to her Green New Deal sight unseen. Then AOC’s staff revealed that her real plan creates a new entitlement program to provide income for for the lazy, as well as $250M in grants to build green roofs for homeless encampments and a program to educate middle schoolers about the importance of eschewing tissues for sustainable, multi-use jizz rags.
Pro: Speaking of those who got egg on their faces in that debacle… Listen, I’m very liberal, and pretty progressive. I’m not an AOC-style “the government spending trillions of dollars is an inherent good” progressive, but I believe in a national healthcare system, addressing the student debt crisis, and I’m genuinely freaked out about climate change, as one should be. Warren has actual plans to address all of these things, though they often employ the jacked-up fiscal math of the contemporary far left.
Conversely, her role in implementing TARP gives her way more credibility than other Progs as far as getting down to brass tacks goes, and she’s actually founded a federal agency, though it has since been dismantled and its mission abandoned by Mick Mulvaney. She’s also the second-most-indigenous candidate behind Julian Castro.
Con: The sound of Elizabeth Warren’s voice is rich, sonorous, and confident. It’s authoritative and presidential, while at the same time projecting maternal warmth and homespun Middle American charm. If that was my voice, I’d probably be in love with the sound of it, too.
As I have never voted for a president with a white penis, and wept tears of anguish at the defeat of our would-be first female president, I really don’t feel I have to answer for my patriarchal sexism when I say that Liz Warren is a creature of pure, grasping ambition. To be fair, most presidential candidates are, none more so than her progressive counterpart from Vermont, and I would vote for Warren over Bernie a thousand times over.
But Bernie at least has the courage of his shit-kicking, burn-this-bitch-down convictions — he doesn’t even pretend like he’s thought his “policies” through. Warren, on the other hand, has a habit of presenting her self-promoting populist barnstorming as an exercise in dispassionate technocracy. The “regulators are corrupt unless they’re overtly hostile to those being regulated” routine that she trots out for virtually any issue will prove genuinely counter-productive when she’s actually in charge of the executive agencies. As an alumnus of a then-shitty state school, I really don’t feel like my tax dollars should pay down student loan debt for graduates of elite private universities who get to make bank off their far-more-valuable degrees.
But seriously, what the hell is that Native American thing about? She put it on a job application? Really?
Pro: I’m frankly getting kinda sick of hearing about all of Mayor Pete’s good qualities. The man is not only seemingly unable to answer any question without poise and elan, but he has never given an answer that leaves his conservative opponents anything to work with. It’s borderline freakish in its discipline, and that bulletproof quality would serve him well up against the king of jackasses. Also, even if a J.D. is the one degree he doesn’t have, being a combat veteran is a prospective legislator’s ticket to the dance as far as I’m concerned.
There’s no sense being squeamish about these things when you know the voters won’t: from a public relations standpoint, he and his husband’s respective modes of gayness could not be more perfectly calibrated to the task of electing the first gay president of the modern era. Chas is hardly a screaming queen or anything, but Pete is overtly wearing the pants in a very traditional relationship dynamic that fits squarely within (slightly rejiggered) American cultural norms. He’s got the lord on his side as well.
Also, my cousin used to date him before he came out, and she can never shut up about how thoughtful he is as a person. He seriously brought a host gift to a kegger one time (which probably should’ve given her a clue).
Con: The last name is legitimately a problem. It’s fun to say in a Portuguese accent, really leaning into the ‘JZH sound on the G’s, but Dukakis’s goofy Greek-ass name cost us an election we had no business losing in 1988, and I do not want to see that happen again at this crucial juncture in history.
I said “the first gay president of the modern era” because Mayor Pete is yet to address his own Reverend Wright controversy: the James Buchanan issue. The last time we elected an openly gay president, we saw our Republic divided by a horrific civil war that claimed the lives of nearly a million Americans. Mayor Pete needs to give a JFK-style speech distancing himself from all of Buchanan’s (presumably gay) actions that led America down that dark path 160 years ago. Actually, just saying “I don’t speak for the Church and the Church doesn’t speak for me” would work fine, come to think of it.
In all seriousness, though, there’s no getting around the fact that 37 years old is a little young, and trotting him out now feels like wasting him when he’d be unstoppable after a little seasoning in some higher office or another. Given that he’s from Indiana, and my mother’s homeland is hardly fertile ground for Dems in statewide races, I’m thinking that higher office will have to be the cabinet position he’s most definitely gonna net from the eventual winner.
Bernie Fucking Sanders
Pro: Cantankerousness can be fun. For personal reasons, I have a thing for Jews who flee the place of their birth to become shitty carpenters. Much like Karl Marx, Bernie is adept at identifying very real, very serious injustices affecting working people today.
Con: Also like Karl Marx, his plans for addressing those injustices are poorly thought out, rigidly ideological, and likely to cause their own set of problems; though in fairness, a President Sanders could never be politically effective enough to starve millions of people to death. On the other hand, Soviet apparatchiks tended to be more intellectually dynamic than Bernie is, and far more receptive to questions from journalists.
I am on record as disliking this person for a lot of reasons, but we can just focus on age for the sake of brevity. In 2016, even amidst a cult-of-personality campaign riven with conspiratorial bullshit and casual invocations of blood-in-the-streets political violence, offered as if revolutions are generally a good thing — statistically, they are not— Bernie’s age was damn near the most disqualifying thing about his run. Now he’s four years older.
This is also Joe’s problem, but Biden is an actual politician and dealmaker who knows how to negotiate with people who disagree with him, whereas Bernie only knows how to bitch at them for their stupidity. His thinking was too brittle and inflexible for the presidency back in the 1970’s, let alone now that he’s a septuagenarian. America has been ruined by the rule of a 70 year-old man who does nothing but take naps, watch TV, and play golf all day, and it cannot be saved by a 79 year-old who spends all of his time writing angry letters to the editor.
ONCE-VIABLE CANDIDATES WHOM I COMPLETELY FORGOT WERE RUNNING:
Pro: It pains me to include Klobuchar in this second tier, but her poll numbers justify no higher placement. I think she’s got really broad appeal that is wasted on this race, and she’s a sensible policy moderate who could carry the suburbs if anyone was paying attention to her, which they are not. I also like her for sentimental reasons, since my mom is a high-achieving type-A Midwesterner who is, shall we say, a bit abrasive at times…
Con: “GODDAMNIT, I ASKED YOU ALL TO DO ONE FUCKING THING AND YOU CAN’T EVEN DO THAT SHIT RIGHT! I SWEAR TO GOD, I WILL STAPLE YOUR GODDAMN NUTS TO THIS FUCKING DESK IF YOU EVER PUT ME IN THIS POSITION AGAIN, YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF TALKING DOGSHIT! GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY OFFICE!”
Pro: I would totally vote for Cory given the choice between him and most of the people in this field. He’s a uniter, a lover, and a senator from the great state where my ass is currently located (the one who isn’t a felon). He’d be a true pragmatist in office, if his campaign finance reports are any indication. He has an appealing worldview and style: after Booker’s love-everybody speech at the DNC, my cousin wrote “I just became a Democrat” on Facebook and his mom is a Republican politician.
Con: That “love conquers all” message was significantly more effective before we all watched hatred conquer America with overwhelming force. Starting with his own diminution in the Green New Deal fiasco, this race has completely gotten away from him. In spite of his ever-buttery presentation, he just doesn’t inspire me to help dig him out of the hole. He apparently doesn’t inspire that drive in anyone else, either, after his notably swampy tenure in Washington robbed him of the ‘people’s champion’ appeal that made him so famous as the mayor of Newark. It’s also badly frayed his connection with the black community.
Also hurting him with the black community: he used to have brown eyes before his Big Pharma patrons began providing him with a steady supply of the Spice, turning his eyes to their current blue-within-blue.
Pro: He’s like, Roma Hispanic, not to mention youthful enough that ICE tried to take him away from his parents. He worked for Obama, and presumably did a decent enough job since people are apparently humoring his campaign. As for his number one asset, let’s call it like it is: his voice is pretty goddamn sexy.
Con: He’s also a former mayor, but without the personal presence of a Shaolin monk. He worked for Obama as HUD Secretary, which had never produced a presidential candidate in its 50-year history before the job was turned into a joke by the stewardship of the world’s dumbest pediatric neurosurgeon. Also, I have thought about Castro maybe twice thus far in the entire campaign, let alone heard him mentioned — I actually forgot about him until I stole that image of the field for the header, at which point I had to circle back and write this.
Pro: I hate guns with a blinding, furious passion, as does Senator Gillibrand, and even though claiming that lane is doing absolutely nothing to distinguish her in this clusterfucky bedlam of a primary, I do appreciate that she’s trying.
Also, she may be single-handedly responsible for winning Democrats a Senate seat in Alabama by throwing a beloved colleague under the bus at the slightest provocation, with no semblance of due process.
Cons: That last paragraph might be true, or it might be an rationalization of a fiasco that permanently damaged one of the stronger members of our bench. Frankly, I think it’s offensive to suggest that Alabamians couldn’t draw a moral line between Franken’s chickenshit, scummy shenanigans and Roy Moore’s ban from a shopping mall for trying to bang 14 year-olds, and bear in mind, that’s coming from someone who could not possibly care less about offending Alabamians. I’ve been talking reckless about Alabama in a Twitter fight all day, per the matter of Neil Young vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s dueling lyrics.
Anyway, she has no chance, so who cares?
Con: I have to start with the cons on this one, because he didn’t beat Cruz, which was the whole premise of this candidacy, and I am actively pissed off by the mere fact that he’s even presuming to run — at least I am whenever I’m not listening to him talk.
Pro: Whenever I am listening to him talk, I immediately forget about all of that and just lose myself in the moment. He really does have that Obama magic, even if it’s completely unsubstantiated from any kind of policy perspective. He’s not a combat veteran or a law school grad, but in a world that’s been unmade by indecency, a man of his comportment could be just what the doctor ordered to heal our national character.
That’s most likely another rationalization to justify a candidacy with no particular reason to exist, but I stand by it, at least enough not to relegate him to the next tier. Also, the next tier is reserved for freaks and House members, and Beto is no longer a congressman — nor does he have any kind of job at present.
Also, as far as his appeal to me personally goes, there’s the matter of his last name being O’Rourke…
Steve Bullock, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet & Mike Gravel
Pro: All of these guys have been elected to the Upper House or a Governor’s Mansion, fulfilling the traditional qualifications for the presidency. They all have every right to run. My mom says Michael Bennet is a true ally of ed reform and a very nice man. Jay Inslee is right to not let the world die.
Con: The above photo isn’t strictly an example of this, but you know how 90’s action and disaster movies always had the part where a general or scientist describes the stakes of the movie’s plot to a generic president, whom we believed as Commander-in-Chief entirely because the actor was a vaguely presidential-looking white dude with good hair who could convincingly fake gravitas, at least for one scene? As Jeb Bush could tell you, even white audiences won’t passively accept the “President Whitey” trope anymore.
Also, we need like half of these guys to run for Senate to have any chance of unseating Mitch McConnell, and they need to stop trying to be president for that to happen.
THE FREAKS (& HOUSE MEMBERS)
Pro: Per my earlier statement about South Asians usurping the American ruling class, she’d be an even bigger step towards that inevitable end than Kamala would. Furthermore, she would be the first Hindu president, and a Hindu leader of this pluralistic liberal democracy would be an effective counter-balance to Nahendra Modi’s campaign of thuggish, illiberal Hindu nationalism in India.
Con: According to people on the internet, if I speak one word against Rep. Gabbard, it’s only because I love war and I want as many innocent people to die as possible. I disagree with that sentiment, since unlike Lil’ Miss Anti-War, I automatically write off anyone who uses chemical weapons against civilian populations. If anything, she deserves credit for not being afraid to take on the Democratic consensus that we shouldn’t provide tacit support to Putin and his war criminal allies.
Speaking as a Catholic, her explicit, non-de-facto polytheism makes me somewhat uncomfortable. On that count, she cites the Bhagavad Gita as an inspiration, but the entire text is about a guy who’s about to fight a war: sounds like hypocrisy to me.
Pro: The Yang Gang has to be this enthusiastic about this dude for a reason, though like the Bernie Bros before them, those people rob me of any desire to find out what that reason might be.
Con: If nothing else, Jeff Bezos has made me deeply wary of buying Chinese goods of unknown provenance from the internet. I seriously have no idea who the fuck this guy is, let alone why, and if nothing else, Trump should have disabused us of the notion that random-ass people should be president.
Also, the anti-circumcision thing is wildly out of step with the demographics of the Democratic Party as an institution — just ask Ilhan Omar if taking on the Democratic Tribe is worth it, or maybe don’t, since you’re also tryna infringe on the free exercise of Islam — and it’s a stance that is definitely disqualifying for this Democrat and his allegedly mutilated genitalia. Notwithstanding the fact that their “intactivist” bullshit has no answer for the fact that only cut guys use lube, an uncircumcised white penis looks like the trunk from an elephant fetus that’s been dead for a week, and I refuse to live in an America where my as-yet-unborn sons are denied their right to honor God’s covenant with Abraham for purely aesthetic reasons.
Pro: I think that the low, harmonious vibrations of Marianne Williamson’s presidency could really bring this country together. I also think her proposal to rebuild the Washington monument with aquamarine quartz would generate the healing energy that America so badly needs.
Con: I could never vote for Marianne Williamson or her witchcraft as a believer in our lord Jesus Christ. Then again, an Aquarius would say that.
Pro: Yes, the president very badly needs to be impeached.
Con: There is no logical relationship between our need to impeach Trump and the election of Eric Swalwell, and someone needs to tell him that. Seriously, if Matt Gaetz (R-FL) ran for president in 2024, I would laugh my ass off, so it would be hypocritical of me not to laugh my ass off at Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for doing essentially the same thing.
Pro: The media wouldn’t call him a Congressman if he hadn’t actually been elected to federal office, though I’ll have to take their word for it.
Con: Who the fuck are you? Who are any of you people? Seriously, I get wanting to have your name on the ballot in case an asteroid hits a candidate meet-and-greet in Des Moines on a day that you’re too sick with the flu to attend, allowing you to rise from the ashes of the slaughtered primary field, but what are all you no-name nothings trying to prove? You’re taking stage time and name recognition away from actual candidates. GO AWAY!
Anyway, in summation: I’d fuck Pete, marry Kamala, and kill Bernie.