Various writers and pundits have already started comparing the 2020 Democratic primary to the 1972 Democratic primary famously covered by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, in which an ideologically varied field of candidates fought for the opportunity to challenge then-sitting president Richard Nixon, as well as for the direction of the future Democratic Party. To Thompson’s mind, Senator George McGovern was the best candidate available and, after the bizarre events at the Democratic National Convention, he was ecstatic to watch his favorite candidate, a left politician loathed by establishment Democrats, receive the nomination.
What followed was an unmitigated disaster. McGovern went on to fail in spectacular fashion, losing every state except Massachusetts and D.C., including his own. This lopsided defeat shaped the future of the democratic party — some of the Democratic Party leaders’ current disdain for Senator Bernie Sanders is rooted in this crushing defeat, though it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much animosity comes from their fear that he will lose to Trump, and how much of that desire comes their fear that he would win and actually implement progressive policies.
But at Wednesday night’s debate, the first of the 2020 Democratic primary, none of this history, fear, or ill will was evident, in part because two of the current front-runners, Sanders included, were not present. Which is a shame, at least in terms of entertainment. Apart from Tulsi Gabbard suplexing Tim Ryan directly into a toilet and then giving him a swirly, it was a dull affair.
There’s really no reason for anyone, Democrat or otherwise, to pay much attention to the primary at the moment. There are literally as many people running for president as there are on the active roster of any pro baseball team; meaning the Democrats could conceivably challenge and defeat the Baltimore Orioles with nothing but its primary candidates.
What’s important now is separating the wheat from the chaff until the race finally gets rolling in earnest. All candidates fall into at most two of the following three categories: Legitimate, Delusional, and Not Running For President. The first describes candidates who have a real, if even slight, chance of becoming the President of the United States. The second describes people who absolutely do not have a chance but think that they do, and the third describes those who don’t have a chance and don’t care because they’re actually running for Vice President or in the hopes of being appointed to a cabinet position by the eventual nominee. Let’s take a look at the roster:
Elizabeth Warren — Legitimate
With strong name recognition and a reputation for making detailed policy plans — as well as a recent boost in the polls — there’s no doubt that Elizabeth Warren is in this race for the long haul. If Sanders represents the left wing of the party, and Harris and Biden represent the right, Warren is seen by voters as a comfortable compromise between the two poles and by Wall Street-funded think tanks as the perfect weapon to siphon votes away from their despised enemy. She was given plenty of time to speak Wednesday night and used it wisely, though when presented with problems that don’t have a solution, such as how to deal with Senate Majority Leader and turtle-faced homunculi Mitch McConnell, her detailed nuts ’n bolts plan-making disappeared.
Beto O’Rourke — 1/2 Delusional, 1/2 Not Running For President
Beto O’Rourke might’ve truly had a chance once upon a time, or we all might’ve just been mistaking the visceral hatred almost everyone has for Ted Cruz (including his family) as affection for Beto during their heated race for Cruz’s Senate seat. Either way, his star began falling back to earth fairly quickly and he’s been trying to find traction with voters ever since. He’s currently polling around two percent, and after his cringe-inducing use of Spanish early Wednesday night I don’t see him lasting long after the first reaping, and I don’t think he does either.
Cory Booker — Not Running For President
Cory Booker might be a wall-eyed dope once described as having been built in a Buzzfeed laboratory for the sole purpose of losing the 2020 election, but he had a couple good lines Wednesday and the face he made when Beto started speaking Spanish for what felt like way too long has already gone viral. In 2020 that’s probably as good as an endorsement from Obama. Dating a famous actress doesn’t hurt either; still, like Beto he’s currently hovering around two percent and may just be angling for a VP nod.
Amy Klobuchar — 1/4 Legitimate, 3/4 Not Running For President
Sitting below both Booker and O’Rourke nationally is Amy Klobuchar at just one percent (she manages to double that impressive score in Iowa polls). Klobuchar has an unsettling smile, and it’s easy to believe the reports of her being one forgotten phone charger away from making a necklace out of a staffer’s teeth, but honestly that kind of makes me like her more. Unfortunately, she views abolishing student debt and tuition-free university education as a wish one would make to a genie, presumably because she believes they cannot happen without magical interference, which is not only incorrect but stupid. Her inability to imagine anything but the slightest of improvements to the status quo on anything is disappointing and, in a president in the year 2020, a very real danger to us all.
John Delaney — Delusional
Delaney, too, polls around two percent in Iowa but less than one percent nationally. He performed poorly Wednesday night, routinely going past his time and attempting to shout over the moderators who, for their part, were doing a reasonable job at policing that sort of thing. He offered nonsense about “being the party of real solutions” — one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogans in her unsuccessful 2008 race — to a reasonable question about how to deal with Senate obstructionist and evil melted candle Mitch McConnell. He followed that by trying to horn in on a discussion about family separation at the border with a “well actually my family was once separated at a border” before being immediately shut down. He is absolutely destined to be banished to the Land of Wind and Ghosts.
Tulsi Gabbard — 3/4 Legitimate, 1/4 Not Running For President
Tulsi Gabbard is, at first glance, an ideal candidate for President of the United States—a photogenic, intelligent young leader with a military career and reasonable oratory skills. The weird homophobic home movie thing was strange and upsetting, but she apologized immediately. If only her support for Indian Prime Minister and leader of a violent right-wing Hindu Nationalist movement Narendra Modi as well as her apologetics for Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad could be explained away so easily. Still, she has a small but dedicated progressive following, and I expect her to outlast the nimrods in her polling bracket of one percent. As mentioned earlier, she had the best moment of the night when local oaf Tim Ryan argued that US troops ought to remain in Afghanistan because “these things take time” and claimed that the Taliban was responsible 9/11 — it was actually Al-Qaeda that planned and executed that attack). Gabbard summarily put a bullet in the head of his presidential aspirations in front of hundreds of thousands of people.
Julian Castro — Not Running For President
Julian Castro was the mayor of San Antonio before he became both the HUD secretary and the youngest person on President Barack Obama’s cabinet. Depending on which poll you look at he’s either polling at one percent or less than that and he knows he will not ever win this primary race. But, since he already has White House experience and can go an entire debate without embarrassing himself, he’s already way ahead of the rest of his peers in the cabinet position game. He has an identical twin in Congress, and I do not for one second believe his brother Joaquin’s beard is real and not merely a prop they use to switch places.
Tim Ryan — Delusional
Polling at zero percent in Iowa and recently murdered on live television, Tim Ryan is survived by his wife Andrea and their son Brandy.
Bill de Blasio — Delusional
The mayor of New York City is rightly considered a leader on the global stage and wields immense power, more than that of any other mayor in the US and even several Prime Ministers. The NYPD could be described as the fifth largest army in the world, the population of the city surpasses that of many nations, and the issues one faces at mayor have been famously described former mayor John Lindsey as “the second toughest job in the country”. Despite having perhaps the exact sort of governing experience a president could benefit most from, no New York City mayor has ever moved on to higher political office after leaving their seat. Bill de Blasio probably knows this, yet he’s still running, and I don’t think he’s in it for a Veep nomination or a cabinet position. Regardless, I wish I the camera had caught the look on Corey Booker’s face when de Blasio, in an attempt to prove his bona fides as an expert on the trials black men and women face in America, noted that he, alone out of all the candidates, is raising a black son in America.
Jay Inslee — 1/4 Legitimate, 3/4 Not Running For President
Jay Inslee is a single-issue candidate, and that issue is climate change. Inslee is so passionate for this cause that he’s willing to take on Tom Perez and the rest of the DNC in order to have at least one debate focus on an issue that, in his defense, involves the fate of all humanity. On Wednesday, when asked to answer the question “what is the biggest danger facing America today” with only one word, everyone naturally expected Inslee to say climate change, but he went for applause instead and responded “Donald Trump.” A smart move, in my opinion, especially considering how everyone else went for either climate change (O’Rourke, Castro), nuclear weapons (Delaney), China (Ryan), or my personal favorite from Amy Klobuchar “what’s going on in the middle east with Iran, if we don’t, don’t get, (inaudible)”.