Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me sitting in an office chair, face-palming, 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!

I've said this before, and I will probably say it again as this series continues, and I need to say it again today: I am having real complicated feelings about this series, because all signs point to the terrible likelihood that we are not going to have anything resembling free and fair elections in 2020. If the election happened tomorrow, it would probably be a joke, so imagine what things will look like in two years! But I don't know how to proceed except as though we are somehow still going to have a legitimate election, in the desperate hope that we will, so here we go.

Rep. Eric Swalwell has officially thrown his hat in the ring, bringing us to 20 (!!!) contenders for the Democratic nomination. CNN has a succinct video package on Swalwell, if you're interested, showing his (cringingly stilted) announcement on Stephen Colbert's show last night; his history of appearing as a Trump critic on cable news; and his excitement about potentially sharing a ticket with Joe Biden (ugh).

One thing I want to note about Swalwell is that he's not just a Trump antagonist for the benefit of the cameras: He was an early and persistent investigator of Trump in his role as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He's been effective in that role, which is why it's frankly a terrible idea for him to run for president. He will cede all credibility as a determined legislator tasked with holding Trump accountable because it's his job, and instead risk looking as though he's leveraging his office to harass the incumbent against whom he's running.

We need him in Congress. We need him to be investigating Trump. We don't need him undermining his own integrity with a vanity presidential run.

Boo, Rep. Swalwell. BOOOOOOOOOO.

* * *

I am living for the full-tilt zero-fucks tweets being dished out on the regular by Senator Elizabeth Warren these days.

At this point, I feel like Warren is leading the pack in efforts to win my vote. And her tweet game is on point.

Also winning at SAY THAT SHIT social media this week is Senator Kamala Harris.

Speaking of Harris, there is a very long and very good (with the exception of some bullshit, snipey comparisons to Hillary Clinton) profile of her, "Kamala Harris Takes Her Shot," by Elizabeth Weil at the Atlantic: "She comes across as a woman who is cashing in her chips, taking all the political and social capital she was safeguarding for all those years and putting it on the table, declaring that her moment is now. She's a black female prosecutor; we have a racist, misogynist, possibly criminal president. All of that caretaking of her political future — what was it for if not this?"

It's true. If there is one person in this race whom I most want to see in a debate with Donald Trump, it's Kamala Harris.

* * *

Oh, Pete Buttigieg. Why why why.

Over the weekend, Buttigieg appeared on Meet the Press and said: "The Democratic Party has only been able to explain its ideological commitments by comparing itself to the Republicans for the better part of my lifetime."

Hoo boy.

I did a Twitter thread yesterday in response, which I will repost below, for anyone who isn't on Twitter and/or missed it:
1. This is not a valid point. 2. A national candidate should understand his party's politics [better] than this. 3. There are valid critiques to be made of the Democratic Party; this isn't one of them. 4. Defining oneself in contradistinction to the GOP's heinous cruelty is actually fine.

One of the many problems with the political press largely being shit is that they will favor candidates who refuse to say that they are shit and instead push a bankrupt message about the Democrats lacking a message, a strategy, or perceptibly defined values.

"Newly popular candidate sez that his party is failgarbage and totally doesn't say shit about how the political press is ruining the country by treating politics like a game and engaging in bothsideserism and broadcasting Trump's empty podium and other sundry for-profit fuckery."

It may not be advisable for a Democratic candidate to say these things about the media. But it isn't required to say them in order to *not* redistribute blame (unfairly and in contrary to demonstrable facts) on their own party.

As a lifelong Democratic voter, I have zero tolerance for Democratic candidates who run on a message appealing to voters who hate and blame the Democratic Party for not magically enacting sweeping reforms in an era of domestic and foreign election meddling and reemergent Nazis.

Talk to me about voter suppression. Talk to me about gerrymandering. Talk to me about election meddling by Republican state legislatures. Talk to me about foreign election interference. Talk to me about Republicans' intransigent obstructionism. Talk to me about the judiciary.

Talk to me about all the many things that have worked against Democrats, on every level, across the country (including their own mistakes). But, for fuck's sake, DO NOT talk to me about how the Democrats lack good messaging or defined ideals. Not if you want my support.
And then there was this statement, on his sexuality: "That's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."

I have seen this widely lauded on social media as "genius rhetoric" and "the best response I've ever seen" and other superlatives. But it really, really isn't a politically savvy statement at all. Which does not mean Buttigieg doesn't have the right to say it, nor that I take issue with the sentiment as a personal statement. I'm just responding to the outpouring of praise about how "smart" it is politically.

(Also: Shout-out to queer folks who did choose and/or don't recognize a "creator" — perhaps other than themselves.)

Mike Pence would say he doesn't have a problem with who Pete Buttigieg is. He would say he has a problem with what Pete Buttigieg chooses to do. He would even say he doesn't have a problem with Pete being gay; he has a problem with Pete acting on it and that God gives us all tests and challenges, and that Pete is failing his test.

I know this because I heard it growing up. Over and over. So did many of you. Hate the sin; love the sinner.

If Buttigieg actually went up against Pence in a debate on this, he'd lose. He'd cast Pence as hating who he is, and Pence would put on his compassion face and talk about hating the sin but loving the sinner, and Buttigieg would have inadvertently set us right back to the Bush era, when homosexuality was sickeningly regarded as a matter of opinion on which good people could disagree.

This, to me, is a perfect example of why it's obvious that Buttigieg is out of his depth.

And we are fighting an uphill battle against some of the most evil and most sophisticated fuckers on the planet. We can't win with someone who can't see at least as well as I can how shit like the above would play out.

I honestly don't know if Buttigieg is naive or arrogant, or both, but I know that electing a president who underestimates the profundity of the Republicans' cunning and malice is a terrible idea.

* * *

[Content Note: Sexual harassment] Julián Castro fought back against Bill Maher's attempt to diminish Biden's sexual harrassment, telling Maher he's wrong, "'because women have been told to just be quiet about stuff like this.' Maher tried to differentiate Biden's actions from sexual harassment. But Castro was unconvinced. And went right at Maher, telling him, 'it's bullshit that people say they can get away with it by just laughing it off.'" Thank you, Julián Castro! But also: Why are you going on Bill Maher's show in the first place, despite Maher's long history of misogyny, rape apologia, racism, Islamophobia, and general shittiness? Democrats really need to stop going on Maher's show. Period.

Senator Bernie Sanders now says he will release ten years of tax returns on April 15: "'April 15th is coming and we're gonna do our taxes for this year and that will be the tenth year,' Sanders said. ...Asked by NBC why he won't release what he has so far, he said 'We are, [just] not right this minute,' before joking 'you think I have them in my back pocket?'" So what happened in 2008 that he doesn't want us to see?

OMFG I CAN'T!!! "Mayor Bill de Blasio's communications director is leaving City Hall to work on his federal political action committee, the latest sign that de Blasio is leaning toward a run for president."

Beto O'Rourke is still standing on stuff.

image of Beto O'Rourke standing on a table in a pub, for an audience of several bored-looking white people

Look at those excited faces! What enthusiasm!

Anyway. That photo accompanies a very good piece by Lucy Diavolo at Teen Vogue, who explains why she's less enthusiastic about O'Rourke's presidential run than she was about his senate run.

[CN: Video may autoplay at first and third links] In other O'Rourke news, he straight-up called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "racist," which is a pretty bold statement for a U.S. politician to make. He has previously called Donald Trump's wall and rhetoric "racist," and I hope he will continue not pulling his punches about aspiring dictators who empower themselves via rank racism and exploiting the racist fears their political parties have fomented for decades.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

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

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus