A Soundtrack for the 2020 Democrats

With their prophecies, accusations and personal dramas, the Democratic Party’s presidential contenders made for an entertaining summer. Still, what this party needs is some theme music, and the possibilities are truly endless.

“Frontrunner” Joe Biden has trouble determining his location, forgets when, exactly, he was vice president, and tells anybody who will listen he’s “not going nuts.” Even so, at this point Biden evokes the Sammy Davis, Jr. classic “What Kind of Fool Am I?” 

The old standard “Moonlight in Vermont” simply won’t do for Bernie Sanders. The best tune for the Vermont socialist is the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR,” with good reason. Bernie talks up Denmark, but the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is where he went for his honeymoon. That was in 1988, but the platform of the Democratic presidential hopeful (and Jacobin fav) goes back even further.

With his claim that healthcare is a “right,” Sanders is turning back the clock to the 1936 USSR constitution, also known as the “Stalin Constitution.” The document also offers the right to a job, free tuition, and derides freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and such as formalistic “bourgeois” rights. You don’t know how lucky you are boys, back in the USSR, so come and keep your comrade warm. 

Elizabeth Warren’s identity claims might evoke “Cherokee People,” by Paul Revere and the Raiders. She was “so proud” to make the fake claims and maybe her Cherokee nation will return. Warren’s runner-up soundtrack could be the old standard “Cherokee” by Ray Noble. “Sweet Indian Maiden, since I first I met you,” it goes, “I can’t forget you, Cherokee sweetheart.” Like jazz players, Warren improvised on the theme. The notes were all false but she’s still in the race, and like Kamala Harris, banking on the notion that it is a woman’s turn to be president. 

The theme music for Kamala Harris could be Jim Croce’s “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” but changing Leroy’s name to Willie Brown. For a time, Kamala Harris was the main squeeze of that bad, bad, politician, 30 years her senior. Brown set her up the lucrative sinecures that launched her career as a bad, bad district attorney. The altered Croce tune will have to do until “poontronage,” finds its way into a song. 

Ground-breaking candidate Pete Buttigieg served in Afghanistan but not in combat, so the Shirelles’ “Soldier Boy,” falls short. A suitable tune might be “Come a Little Bit Closer,” by Jay and the Americans. As Jay sings, “you’re my kind of man, so big and so strong.” And Pete may come closer to the nomination than most. 

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro wants a Marshall Plan for Central America, and in the cause of reproductive justice, Castro proclaims the right to abortion for males who have had the tuck-and-roll construct. A ballpark figure for the number of voters who will benefit is zero, but “You’re Having My Baby,” by Paul Anka, might highlight the irony. 

Prominent Democrats don’t give Bill de Blasio much of a chance but like George Benson he seems to be saying “I won’t quit till I’m a star.” Like Billy Joel, de Blasio is mostly in a “New York State of Mind.” 

Recent dropouts Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper could be backdropped with “Momma Told Me Not to Come,” by Three Dog Night. As they said, “that ain’t the way to have fun, son.” 

Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not among the candidates for 2020 but the 2016 loser still pops up from time to time. Those who recall her record might consider “Lies,” by the Kickerbockers, as appropriate theme music. On the other hand, given her email scandal, “If I Had a Hammer,” by Peter Paul and Mary, might work better. Bill Clinton doesn’t say much these days, but Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” might recall his White House liaisons with “that woman,” Monica Lewinsky. 

New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is too young to run for president but she has become prominent in national politics. By her count, the world has about 12 years left, so the theme music might be “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire. To avoid this destruction, the nation must implement AOC’s Green New Deal, so “Green Green,” by the New Christy Minstrels could serve as a backup.

Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar recalls that “some people did something” on 9/11, and never hesitates to speak her mind. Her theme music could be Tony Orlando’s “Tie a Yellow Ribbon.” But as Nipsy Russell once told Tony, “we’re going to tie that yellow ribbon around your mouth.”

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib made waves with her announcement in January that Democrats are “going to impeach the motherf—er!” a reference to President Trump. The music for this understated lady could be the theme from “Shaft,” by the great Isaac Hayes. When Hayes sings “He’s a bad mother . . . ,” the backup singers cut in with “shut your mouth!” 

That is good advice for many politicians of all parties. Meanwhile, the Lovin’ Spoonful has theme music for voters. As they noted, to say yes to one and leave the others behind is not often easy, and not often kind, but “did you ever have to make up your mind?”

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