I just didn’t care. I really didn’t. I got excited for the last cycle because Bernie was the first candidate in my lifetime to say all the things I had been going on about openly at a debate and campaign stump speech. Plus the bizarre rise of Trump encouraged me to extensively research our past elections just to understand how it had come to this point. But, after the ’16 primaries, the ruthless snuffing out of Bernie by the DNC really destroyed my faith in the system. (This includes Grandma Nixon throwing him under the bus time and again after he’d selflessly put differences aside and stumped for her over 30 times to get her elected while she stayed home. How she sleeps at night being so ungrateful, I really don’t know.)
Anyway, this time around it just seemed like the same bullshit. Bernie was out there trying his best only to get slandered and mischaracterized in the media all over again. For a little while I managed to get enthusiastic again as he won early primaries. But even that was tainted by the DNC, who couldn’t organize a two car funeral, stealing his Iowa victory news cycle with the obscenely late results. Then Biden swept the South like Granny Harding before him, and that means we all have to bow down and salute the king forever after. A bunch of southern states, who won’t even vote Democratic in the general election, once again fire-walled the progressive candidate. And because my state comes so late in the process, I didn’t even get the satisfaction of voting when it mattered. The primary system is broken, intentionally so, and needs to be replaced by a round or two of at least approval voting if not range voting going forward. I know my hero, McGovern, is the one who designed the modern primary system after ’68, and for the time that was a great step forward. But fifty years later, we can and should be doing better.
Meanwhile, the establishment favorite is allowed to cruise by with no hard questions about his anti-commoner record, barely concealed dementia or looming scandals (from emails to rape accusations, nice job DNC). Now we’re all but stuck with a ticking timebomb into the general because nobody bothered to hold the establishment-anointed one’s feet to the fire in the primaries. Which, you know, is the whole reason primaries are a thing in the first place, but then the Democrats are masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory aren’t they?
There was one bright spot for me, and that came in the form of a new voice joining the cause of reform. I admired Andrew Yang very much. He’s young and vigorous, he’s intelligent, and he was bringing attention to Universal Basic Income which is among my favorite policies. I would have supported him if it were any other primary, but this time I felt I owed Bernie my favor for standing against the Clinton machine when no one else dared to do so. I hope we see more of Yang in the future, or someone else following in his footsteps next cycle. Part of me thought Bernie himself should not have run this cycle due to his age, but rather thrown his support and campaigning behind a sort of protege. I wonder if, in hindsight, things would have been different with Bernie and Yang working together.
The most interesting thing about this year’s primary is that the DNC somehow made it possible for me to dislike Elizabeth Warren (whom I previously admired) as well as the first LGBT candidate in a national election to gain prominent attention.
- Warren should have run last cycle. It was her year, everyone including “sexist” Bernie were begging her to, and she would have been able to unite both camps as a progressive woman candidate. She blew it. She comes in now, four years late to her own party and nobody really cared because Bernie locked up the progressive wing. All she did is divide progressives, first by running in the first place (don’t get me wrong, that’s her right to do so) but then with that ghastly “Bernie said a sexist thing one time and I have no proof!” smear. If Warren wasn’t paid off by somebody to run as a kamikaze candidate to take out Sanders, then she has the worst political instincts of anyone I’ve ever seen. Mondale and Jeb included. I could go on about the flaws, if not barely concealed phoniness, of her candidacy but that’s the gist of it.
- I never trusted Pete. He had the same problem as Larry Agran did in 1992, that the most prestigious job on his resume was “mayor.” But unlike Agran, he had no great vision, no progressive “big ideas” to justify skipping a few steps in the American Cursus Honorum. With Larry, I believed that he knew what America needed, saw the other candidates weren’t going to make progress getting us there, and decided to fight the good fight against impossible odds. With Pete, it was the usual practiced and polished professional politician bullshit. So what gives him the right to come in as a mayor and tell us he needs to win if he’s just a younger Biden, throwing around the same vacuous talking points which those of us who actually watch these things have heard a million times already? He never convinced me of that, and his donors sure scared me away if his obvious two-facedness hadn’t already.
Like Hillary’s own candidacy too, Pete-defenders really demonstrated a darker side to the Democrats for me as well. I knew several in real life who would verbally castigate me in public during 2016 if I ever dared criticize anything Hillary had done, or even just acknowledged the third party candidates. These same people, who would go on to say Chelsea Manning was out of line running for Senate with only political activist credentials,* yet suddenly had no issue with a mayor jumping into the Oval Office. Or who tried to shoot down any legitimate criticisms of Pete with “you’re just falling for more Russian propaganda!” They’ll be trotting that defense out every cycle now if their neoliberal candidates get rejected, mark my words. The whole experience, for me, is just exhibit A out of 1,000 reasons why us progressives need our own party, but we can’t because of First Past the Post voting. To quote the famous anti-Goldwater ad, “Either they’re not [Democrats] or I’m not.“
*For the record, I’m not necessarily saying Chelsea Manning would be a good Senator either. All I’m taking issue with here is the lack of consistency, or at least a good reason to break consistent positions. The only common factor is they’re always against the perceived progressive in all situations and that’s what angers me.
The Democrats broke their own rules for debate access to allow Bloomberg on the stage. This is the party which historically has always stood for the working man, who championed labor unions as well as the New Deal, once upon a time. Their first president is Jackson, and my issues with his policies aside, he was seen as the first common man to get into the Oval Office. Our logo is a donkey, a humble steed, to emphasize our plebeian base. And now we’re openly breaking rules, bending over backwards to shamelessly cater to billionaires. Bloomberg running under the Democratic banner alone is indicative of the fact that we’ve lost touch with our noble roots, to say nothing of the fact that we went out of our way to allow him to do so. Was there any doubt the DNC is corrupt and paid for? If so, here’s another piece of evidence for ya.
Maybe someday I will watch a debate from this cycle and offer my point by point commentary like I had for previous primaries. But not for many moons. This farce of an election really took a lot out of me. I’m tired, and even in this COVID-19 hell I have better things to do, believe it or not.