Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me looking angry while surrounded by flames in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

Let me start today by talking about a Democrat who isn't running for president (I KNOW!) but is instead doing something that could help whichever Democrat eventually becomes the nominee: Former Tallahassee mayor and Democratic nominee for Florida Governor Andrew Gillum today will be formally announcing the launch of "a Florida voter registration group dedicated to defeating [Donald] Trump's re-election chances in the nation's largest swing state. ...'In this period of time, whatever resources that I raise and time and energy I spend in this state is going to be around voter registration and deep-level engagement, so that when we have a nominee, we have an apparatus we can turn on,' Gillum said in January." Fuck yeah!

Relatedly, Senator Elizabeth Warren says that we should abolish the Electoral College, and I couldn't agree more!

You know who else agrees? Hillary Clinton! For 19 years.

Which is only a slightly shorter time than Hillary Clinton has been trying to get universal healthcare for America. But by all means, let's keep talking about how it's her former primary opponent who has pushed the party left.

Speaking of that guy... Senator Bernie Sanders made some genuinely appalling staffing announcements yesterday, including David Sirota — whom the Atlantic's Edward-Isaac Dovere calls Sanders' "Twitter Attack Dog," noting that Sirota has "on Twitter, on his own website, and in columns in The Guardian, been trashing most of Sanders' Democratic opponents, all without disclosing his work with Sanders, and has been pushing back on critics by saying that he was criticizing the other Democrats as a journalist" (which is the just the tippity-tip of the Sirota iceberg) — as well as Briahna Joy Gray, who, among other things, voted for Jill Stein in 2016 and believes the Democrats "pushed the 'Russia did the hacking' angle because it was politically advantageous for them."

On Twitter, @queerBengali observed: "I feel like with the addition of Shaun King, Nina Turner, Sirota, and Briahna Joy, Bernie intends to run the most extremely online campaign that has ever been. Unlike Warren who is running the one of the most extremely policy driven campaign i have witnessed."

To which I replied: "This. Also and related, I feel like with these additions, Bernie isn't running to win. He's running to be a scorched-earth destroyer. Not that he's running to lose, but winning increasingly seems to be a secondary objective, even more than the last time around."

And it seems like Democratic voters might be starting to pick up on the fact that Sanders doesn't have the party's best interests in mind (cough): CNN's Harry Enten reports that, in their latest poll, "just 30% of Democratic voters believe the party has a better chance of winning the presidency with [Sanders] than someone else as the nominee. The vast majority, 59%, think they have a better shot of winning with someone else." Welp.

And speaking of dudes who aren't running to win, Mike Gravel is back!

The WaPo's Greg Sargent did an interview with Mayor Pete Buttigieg and it is very good! You should definitely read it. Here's an excerpt:
Plum Line: We're seeing a rise in white nationalism and serious anti-immigrant fervor in some parts of the country, and also globally. Are you going to be addressing this in a comprehensive way? It occurs to me that the 2020 Democrats should go bigger on these issues.

Buttigieg: Absolutely. We need to recognize 21st-century threats. Cybersecurity, climate security, and security in the face of white nationalism are all clear and present security threats that folks on the other side of the aisle either refuse to acknowledge or decline to do anything about. It's extremely important for Democrats to very vocally talk about those threats.

Plum Line: How do you view white nationalism as a policy problem?

Buttigieg: In the narrow tactical sense, it's something we need to stay ahead of and monitor the way you would any kind of violent radical movement from abroad.

There's a deeper phenomenon going on. As we see dislocation and disruption in certain parts of the country, from rural areas to my home in the industrial Midwest, and in the economy, this leads to a kind of disorientation and loss of community and identity. That void can be filled through constructive and positive things, like community involvement or family. And it can be filled by destructive things, like white identity politics.

This is one thing well-intentioned job training programs often miss: If we're not attending to that, then making sure somebody's income is steady or replaced after their place in the economy is disrupted, that's not really enough.

Plum Line: Can you talk about your broader sense of the role that this type of economic vulnerability plays in creating the conditions for the kind of communitarian collapse that creates an opening for sentiments like white nationalism to flourish?

Buttigieg: I don't want this to slide into the idea that some of these racist behaviors can be excused because they can be connected to economic issues. But I do think it's easier to fall into these forms of extremism when you don't know where your place is.

There's this very basic human desire for belonging that historically has often been supplied by the workplace. It's been based on the presumption of a lifelong relationship with a single employer. This isn't just a blue-collar phenomenon.

We've come to be pretty reliant on the way that your workplace explains who you are. That's breaking down. That doesn't have to be a soul-crushing thing, provided that there are alternate sources for community, identity, and purpose. In South Bend, we focus a lot on enlisting people in the project of the city itself.

The sense of belonging can be very powerful, and we're very fragile without it. It's not accidental that some areas that have seen the most disruption in our social and economic life are those that are most likely to produce a lot of domestic extremists.
This is so much better than his stuff on Mike Pence. Which gives me hope that perhaps he'll say smarter things on Pence in future. Because we need the Hoosier candidate to be saying smart things about the threat Pence presents, and has always presented.

Hey, guess what?! Joe Biden might be running for president! You heard it here first! But before he announces his announcement to his announcement that he'll be announcing he's running for president probably, he's lining up people with deep pockets who will be prepared to make BIG DONATIONS the day of his big announcement, so he won't look like a schmuck who can't raise as much money in the first post-announcement 24-hours as Beto O'Buttigieg or whoever.

Speaking of fundraising, if you want to read all about the Democrats' new fundraising requirements to get on one of what will probably be several debate stages across multiple nights (OMG), Michael Scherer at the WaPo has got you covered!

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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