Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me shrugging beneath a shrug emoji, pictured 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!

As you may have noticed, I don't cover every candidate in every Primarily Speaking thread. That's partly because there's not always something newsworthy about candidate every day, and partly because there are now 17 (!!!) candidates (and some very prominent likely candidates who still have not declared), so it would be a lot to cover all of them every day. Also: I am one human being and sometimes I miss things! So if you want to talk about something I didn't include about your favorite candidate, that's why there are comments. Make use of them! All candidates are on topic every day.

To the news!

Senator Cory Booker gave a very well-received speech at the National Action Conference, during which he deployed his refined blend of soaring rhetoric and substantive policy wonkery, garnering him a standing ovation from the crowd. [Content Note: Gun violence; racism; video may autoplay at link] While he was at the conference, he also gave an interview to the Grio's Natasha S. Alford, during which he got emotional talking about Black men killed by gun violence: "You want to talk about a president that's going to fight on these issues? That this isn't something academic or, or something that is painful because they're seeing it happen out there? It's happened where I live. ...This is too personal for me. And the folks that are dying out there look like me."

Senator Elizabeth Warren is betting on people caring about policy and "has churned out a slew of policy ideas in the opening months of her presidential campaign, promoting government intervention into markets she says are no longer working for the middle class." It's a good bet to make, in the sense that a lot of people still do care about the issues, very much — and it's nonetheless going to be a tough road, because the political press is absolute garbage with very little interest in having or ability to have substantive discussions about existing and/or proposed policy. Still, it's the right road, and I'm glad she's on it.

Senator Kamala Harris was asked about the possibility of an all-female Democratic ticket, and she responded: "Wouldn't that be fabulous?" Yes, yes it would!

Speaking of women... "In her first years in the Senate, Kirsten Gillibrand traveled to major cities across the country to start female-centric donor circles to elevate women in politics, harking back to her own political awakening as a donor in a male-dominated space. Now, the New York Democrat is returning to those groups — some of which contribute more than $1 million to candidates per election — and asking them to help make her the first female president of the United States." Cool. These groups are also giving to other female candidates in the race, and could be crucial if there is a female nominee.

Investing in women was a very good idea. Gillibrand's commentary on Trump, however, is the opposite of a good idea: "I see him differently. I see him as I would see a toddler who is melting down and making bad decisions. And you don't punch a toddler in the face. You don't say, 'Oh, you're just a little jerk.' No, that doesn't work. No, you actually just talk around them and say, 'Oh honey, but it's nap time. Let's go get your favorite stuffed animal.'" What is she even talking about? This is such a bad take.

Rep. Tim Ryan, best known for his humiliating attempt to derail Nancy Pelosi's speakership bid, has announced that he, too, is running for president. He is a straight white cis man who explicitly rejects "identity politics," believes that Democrats have to win by appealing to the white working class, and often talks about vanishing factory jobs being the victims of "failed leadership and broken promises," instead of automation. Suffice it to say, I am not interested in Ryan's candidacy. Thanks but no thanks!

Mayor Pete Buttigieg says we need to have empathy for Trump voters. He says it a lot. I am already tired of hearing it! As I have said before, if Buttigieg, who is gay, wants to extend empathy toward people who don't think he and his husband should have the legal right to be married, and don't think he should have been allowed to serve in the military, and do think that business owners should be allowed to legally discriminate against him, and do think he shouldn't be allowed to parent, and so forth and so on, that is his right.

But he needs to understand that many marginalized people do not share his opinion — or the relative privilege that he enjoys — and, in fact, many of us believe, based on our own lived experience, that extending good faith to people who want to harm us often results only in empowering their ability to do that harm. We're dealing with actual Nazis again, and I really wish Buttigieg would talk about that instead. It would be a lot more useful.

Senator Bernie Sanders STILL hasn't released his tax returns — and the media is starting to notice. His excuses are bullshit. He's trying to hide something. And I think we should all be very concerned about what it is.

[CN: Inappropriate touching] Here is a message I posted to a group chat on April 2: "I don't trust Joe Biden at all to 'learn' from this (like he didn't know in the first place) and not make constant jokes about it. Like, 'I'm being very appropriate and respectful!' as he shakes a woman's hand."

And here is what happened three days later:

To be clear, "I just wanted to let you know I had permission to hug Lonnie" was delivered as a joke — and Jennifer Epstein followed up with a tweet reporting: "The crowd of mostly older white men laughed at this."

I do not have a crystal ball. The reason I was able to accurately predict exactly what Biden would do is because abusers are predictable. They always follow the same patterns. The fact that I could have comfortably bet my house on the fact that Biden would joke about the accusations against him is by virtue of my being an expert in abuse and rape culture. Which tells you something important about Joe Biden.

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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