Our electoral politics are about to enter a kind of terra incognita, with an avowed Marxist dinosaur who spent a lifetime praising Communist dictatorships and brutal leftist tyrants all around the globe, as the most likely nominee of one of the major parties.
When the history of the 2020 election is written, this suicidal choice by the Democratic Party’s primary electorate will be traced back to one central theme: the party’s singular obsession with Donald J. Trump.
Beating Trump is a monomaniacal preoccupation with the Democratic electorate. Every candidate is viewed through that lens and that lens alone. The problem for Democrats going into the general election is that beating Trump, per se, isn’t an obsession with a majority of the voters—improving their own lives is more important.
On the stump, Democrats barely mention job creation, for example—except for when they are talking about creating more government jobs. Reviving manufacturing or America’s industrial base is of no interest to them—killing private-sector jobs, like auto manufacturing jobs, or mining jobs, or traditional energy sector jobs, is in vogue. Displaced blue-collar workers can learn to code.
Terrorism is of no interest to Democratic candidates—they all condemned the drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani. Crime or public safety? Ensuring racial proportionality in arrests and prosecutions is more important. Quality of education? As long as students are indoctrinated and transgender issues are properly addressed for all children eager to hop on the trend, it’s all good.
With the exception of Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders, who wants a Marxist revolution and whose paleo-Stalinist nonsense has now almost totally infected the Democratic Party, “beating Trump” is the only thing any of them seem to want to talk about.
Unserious Candidates, Sliding Leftward
Gallons of ink have been spilled, and countless gigabytes have been posted, debating which candidate can best “take on Trump.” Reporters collect quotes from attendees at candidates’ events on the subject of who can best beat Trump. Trump isn’t just living rent-free in their collective heads—he has put down deep roots and applied for permanent resident status there.
At any Democratic debate, vanishingly little time is spent discussing job creation, or the job security that flows from a vibrant labor market, or energy independence, or people’s physical security in the face of crime in cities run by Democrats. The contestants just repeat some variation of “I am the one who can beat Trump,” coupled with “we need an economy that works for everybody, not just the corrupt billionaires.” Meanwhile, the cancerous ideology of socialism continues to corrupt the Democratic Party, dragging it further and further leftward.
Beto O’Rourke, the fake Texas Hispanic, burst onto the national scene with his losing campaign to unseat Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), despite spending a mind-bending $80 Million. Why was he most qualified to defeat Trump? Because he had the best ideas for keeping the economic expansion going? Because he had the best ideas for enforcing immigration laws? Nope. He could best defeat Trump because he could win Texas (even though he didn’t)!
As Beto’s campaign sputtered, his unserious proposals (Confiscate guns now! No more tax exemptions for churches!) drifted further and further into la-la-land. On November 1, Beto saw the writing on the wall and scurried out of the limelight.
That’s the problem with being a self-funded billionaire—everyone around you will only tell you things you want to hear.
What about Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.)? Booker’s candidacy was “about the diverse coalition that is necessary to beat Donald Trump.” Booker was not the jobs candidate, nor was he the lower taxes candidate, nor the business creation candidate, nor the anti-crime candidate. Booker could beat Trump, he said, because he was the diversity candidate. It turned out, however, that Booker has always had a hard time pretending America is some post-apocalyptic hellhole of racism, poverty, and despair. Struggling in the polls and out of money, Booker dropped out on January 13—shortly before the Iowa caucuses.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) ran as a one-issue “I’m a mom” candidate best able to defeat Trump, because, well, Trump is not a mom. “The future is female!” she proclaimed, erasing her two sons from that future. Anything other than the “I’m a mom” was either an afterthought or viewed through the prism of “family”—another word for “I’m a mom, and Trump is not, so that’s why I’ll beat him.”
After panhandling for dollar bills in Iowa restaurants and gay bars, and only (just barely) qualifying for the first two debates, Gillibrand crashed and burned on August 28. The lesson—that a shameless panderfest to this or that identity group (in her case, a “distinctly feminist message that looked like a compelling counter to Donald Trump”) was not the way to go—fell on deaf ears.
A New Generation? Not Quite Yet
Julian “Latino Obama” Castro was yet another shiny object for the leftwing media. His prediction of whom the Democrats will nominate looks comical in hindsight:
Kennedy was 43 when he took office. Carter was 50 or 51. Clinton was 46 and Obama was 46 or 47. I think you’re going to have somebody from this group under 55 that emerges as a Democratic nominee. Because when I go out there, I hear very clearly that people want a new generation of leadership—a new face—whether I run or not.
Try not to bust your gut laughing—the likely Democratic nominee is actually a 78-year-old Marxist who had a heart attack after angrily yelling at the sky, as is his habitual practice, and his chief competitors are a 77-year-old cognitively-challenged denture-sporting ex-vice president, a 70-year-old screeching banshee from Massachusetts, and a 78-year-old gazillionaire who has a stent implanted in his heart and eats blood thinners and beta-blockers like they are candy.
But what made Castro think he was unique enough to make him the one to defeat Trump? As Castro explained, “you have to be able to stand up to Donald Trump and to call him out.” Since every other candidate also promised to stand up to Trump and to call him out, Castro’s candidacy struggled in the low single digits for months. Following a few middling and borderline obnoxious debate performances, Castro’s campaign ended ignominiously on January 2, after desperate appeals for money.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a charisma-deficient boss from hell, told us she was the one most qualified to beat Trump because she was from the Midwest. Trump isn’t from the Midwest and has never lived there—but he won the Midwest anyway. Being from the Midwest certainly didn’t help Klobuchar in next-door Iowa much.
Klobuchar’s entreaties to Democratic primary voters, that the financial math of Bernie’s proposals doesn’t add up were entirely correct—and also of entirely zero interest to them. The “I can beat Trump in the Midwest because I am from Minnesota” didn’t move the needle at all, and she’s now out of the running, too.
Coal billionaire Tom Steyer was best able to beat Trump, he said, because only he got the true religion of climate change. Apparently nobody around Steyer ever had the courage to gently explain to him that he will never, ever be president. Ever.
That’s the problem with being a self-funded billionaire—everyone around you will only tell you things you want to hear. You pay the bills. Having demonstrated that his robotic woodenness is matched only by Bloomberg’s robotic woodenness, Steyer’s odds of becoming the nominee were microscopic even before South Carolina. Spending $250 million (that’s one-quarter of a billion dollars, for you and me) didn’t buy him a whole lot of love—Steyer dropped out the night of the primary. He won’t be missed (except by ad executives).
Ex-Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been planning to run for president since he was in diapers. He even joined the military as a direct commission officer because he thought that a “served in the military” checkmark would help his résumé. (He’s in the wrong party for that.) His speeches and debate performances come straight out of McKinsey & Co. PowerPoint slides.
In theory, Biden could have claimed the mantle of the candidate who is concerned about jobs, taxes, schools, and immigration. Instead, he has positioned himself as the “Barack-and-I” electability choice while adopting the lunatic fringe’s positions.
Buttigieg was a rarity—he did say many vacuous and unspecific words about some things that people actually care about—all that McKinsey consulting experience has taught him that real things matter more to people than abstract nonsense. Other Democrats might want to emulate that aspect of his campaign, if not the creepily robotic delivery.
Buttigieg had a kind of “I can beat Trump because I’m twice as young as the tired old fossils standing next to me” vibe. Alas, even as a sort-of non-Bernie (despite having a genetic predisposition to Marxism) his campaign ran out of gas in South Carolina. In the language of campaign-speak, after “having internal conversations” about the future (which is never a good sign) Mayor Pete was out, so to speak.
Faux Left vs. Real Left
After back-of-the-pack results in no fewer than four consecutive states, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is over, and she knows it. Her rhetoric always came back to corporate greed, rigged systems, and corruption. The substance of her “plans” differed little from those of Bernie Sanders—government takeover or regulation of virtually everything, just without the socialist label. If she weren’t old and 1023/1024th white, Bernie would take her as a running mate.
So what made Warren so special? “She is a fighter.” She cannot possibly believe her own plans (unlike Bernie, who is a classic Marxist-Leninist useful idiot, and probably believes some of it). The leftists sense it—why buy an obvious fake, when the real thing is standing right next to her, red in the face, shrieking Marxist gibberish even louder than she is?
With her odds of becoming the nominee now a tiny fraction of a percent, and Warren herself “reassuring supporters” that she is in it for the long haul, expect her to drop out after Super Tuesday. Successful campaigns don’t need to reassure anyone—their success is all the reassurance they need.
Remember Kamala Harris? Perhaps she was most qualified to beat Trump because, as a senator from California, she knew about the tech industry, manufacturing, and farming? Perhaps she knew how to appeal to both urban voters and rural voters? Nope. She was most qualified to beat Trump because she was once a prosecutor, and she would not only beat him, but prosecute him afterward!
Harris entered the race with much promise: relatively young, articulate, female, black, Indian, experienced (well, sort of) . . . she checked off all sorts of boxes. Schizophrenically, Harris could never make up her mind about whether she wanted to out-crazy the crazies on the Left, or try to compete with Biden for the “moderate” lane.
Her prosecutorial attack talents were demonstrated in the first Democratic debate in June 2019, when she tore into Biden for (as it turned out) having the same views on school busing as she herself held. Her polls briefly climbed up to the mid-teens, but that moment turned out to be just that—a moment. By the fall, Harris’ campaign was circling the drain, its messaging confused, its organization in disarray. On December 2, the one-time “tough prosecutor” dropped out.
A Sad Parade
Among the slew of other “also-rans” it is worth recalling only Tim Ryan—remember him? Probably not. The congressman from Ohio naïvely tried to talk about things like jobs, manufacturing, America’s industrial base—in other words, things that normal people, in the Midwest and elsewhere, actually care about. Ryan’s problem? The Democratic Party has absolutely no interest in any of this. Democrats are much more interested in remote and mostly irrelevant abstract notions, like “environmental justice,” climate change, and transgender rights for 5-year-olds.
Though he was not terribly exciting, Ryan sounded saner and more coherent than the clowns riding the Democrat clown bus—which meant, obviously, that he had zero chance. Ryan did make it into the first couple of debates, got no traction, and dropped out on October 24. If a tree falls in a forest with nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound? That’s the epitaph for his campaign and the lesson or Democrats who want to talk about issues general election voters find compelling.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio got bored running his own city into the ground and decided to set his sights higher—on running the entire country into the ground. At 6’5”, he was the tallest candidate, and, therefore, most qualified. Selecting a candidate based on his height turned out to be a bridge too far even for loopy Democratic voters. His candidacy deader than a doornail, de Blasio called it quits on September 20, and went back to screwing up New York City.
Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, had a simple reason for why he would beat Trump: he, and he alone, really cared about climate change. Every other contestant cared, sure, but Inslee really, really cared. His polls in a permanent flatline, Inslee dropped out on August 21.
It’s difficult to know if we should laugh at all this, cry, or shrug indifferently.
John Hickenlooper, the ex-governor of Colorado, had no difficulty telling huge adoring crowds why he was most qualified to beat Trump: “I’m running for president because the only way to end the Trump crisis of division is with a leader who knows how to bring people together and get stuff done.” Actually, I’m just kidding—there were no huge crowds. In fact, there were no crowds of any kind for him. His poll numbers comatose, the Hickenlooper campaign finally collapsed on August 15.
Andrew Yang became the first semi-serious Asian-American candidate to run for president. He was most qualified to beat Trump because he was Asian, which meant that he knew many doctors, and like all Asians, he could do math better than Bernie. After New Hampshire, he must have done the math, said “adios, muchachos” to his supporters, and joined CNN.
Bloomberg’s Billions, Biden’s “Barack-and-I” Electability
Mike Bloomberg doesn’t need to explain anything to anybody—his explanation for why he can beat Trump is loud and clear, available on every channel on every TV or computer screen. With his galactic-sized bank account, Bloomberg’s theory of the election requires no ability to understand complex nuances: he will abandon every belief he ever held, apologize for everything he ever did, and buy the nomination by running two billion dollars’ worth of ads about how he can “get it done,” then he will buy the presidency by running two billion dollars’ more worth of ads.
And if it takes more money than that, that’s fine. After his catastrophic debate performance in Nevada, and his barely-passable debate performance in South Carolina, Bloomberg will soon be the guy wearing the t-shirt that says “I spent enough money on TV ads to buy Belgium, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
It is hard to do justice to the Joe Biden campaign in one or two paragraphs. He cratered in Iowa. He crumpled in New Hampshire. He flubbed in Nevada, although (without a trace of irony) he called his very distant second place in Nevada a “comeback.” He achieved a kind of zombie resurrection with his primary win in South Carolina—the first time he actually won anything in 33 years of presidential aspirations. His South Carolina efforts were characterized by a ramped-up output of bizarre pronouncements.
In theory, Biden could have claimed the mantle of the candidate who is concerned about jobs, taxes, schools, immigration—issues about which ordinary Americans actually care. Instead, Biden has positioned himself as the “Barack-and-I” electability choice while adopting the lunatic fringe’s positions on open borders, foreign policy, transgenderism, climate hysteria, abortion, and most everything else.
In the last debate, a caffeinated-to-the-gills Biden was perkier than usual, without the vacant stare of someone who checked out the day before. Aside from the debate, Biden’s mental collapse on the South Carolina campaign trail is worth a separate analysis.
If I were Trump, I’d be hard-pressed to decide which challenger I’d rather face—a near-octogenarian perpetually-pissed-off Marxist who hollers and gesticulates madly when confronted by an inconvenient question? Or a near-octogenarian buffoonish “Mr. Electability” who remembers things that never happened, but can’t remember which job he is running to fill?
It’s difficult to know if we should laugh at all this, cry, or shrug indifferently. Whatever happens, the Democratic Party will never exist again as a party with a sane, left-of-center orientation.