Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me looking at my mobile phone beside giant letters reading LMAO, 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!

A quick and relevant Twitter thread from yesterday afternoon:
"Electability" is not an objective metric.

You can point to polling, you can look at historical trends, you can have highly subjective opinions about what those things might mean on election day, but it still doesn't make electability an objective metric.

Let's be really clear on this point: The implication that electability is an objective metric, or frankly that it means anything at all, obfuscates widespread voter suppression efforts, potential vote machine hacking, foreign interference, and other threats to election integrity.
"Electability" was never objective, but it has truly lost all meaning in an era of brazen election meddlers, foreign and domestic.

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[Content Note: War on agency. Covers entire section.]

All four female senators in the race — Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand — all speak eloquently and passionately about abortion access, for which I am tremendously grateful. I cannot quite articulate what it means to me to have four feminist female senators running for president and not shying away from defending abortion rights.

At a time when states are passing abortion restrictions at an accelerating rate, including criminalization laws that are worse than the old ones, it's important that every Democratic candidate be committed to protecting abortion access and able to speak passionately on the subject.

As I have been highlighting the past couple of days, there is one male candidate who stands out far and away above the rest of the men in the race: Senator Cory Booker.

In a terrific piece for Marie Claire, Chloe Angyal takes a look at "Where Male Presidential Candidates Stand on Reproductive Rights," and also how they talk about them. And Booker stands out there, too: "New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is one of the rare male candidates with a track record of showing up for reproductive rights."

As I've previously noted, Booker understands that many abortion restrictions happen on the state level. He not only talks about it, but, as Angyal observes: "In 2013, he co-sponsored the Women's Health Protection Act, which would have limited the restrictions states can place on abortion providers, but that bill didn't make it out of committee."

It's a major point of difference between Booker and most of the other male candidates, who might nominally support legal abortion but don't give that position much more than lip service — and often fail to talk about it well when they do.

Here, for example, is a tweet from Mayor Pete Buttigieg yesterday on the subject: "A woman has enough to deal with when it comes to her health care without also having to worry about male politicians telling her what she ought to do with her body. Georgia's abortion ban is a cruel attack on women's autonomy and freedom — one that we must continue to resist."

At a cursory glance, he's making all the right noises, but "telling her what she ought to do with her body" is imprecise to an absurd extreme. The laws being passed in state legislatures aren't suggestions. These are deeply punitive laws that, in some cases, seek to charge people who get an abortion with second-degree murder.

When it comes to speaking about this during a debate, every candidate is going to have to do better than that. And I cannot emphasize this strongly enough: In the highly contentious and highly fraught abortion debate, language matters enormously. Every word matters.

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Here is a really lovely piece by Senator Kamala Harris on her blended family and relationship with her stepchildren and their mom: "I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in. To know Cole and Ella is to know that their mother Kerstin is an incredible mother. Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends. ...We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional. A few years later when Doug and I got married, Cole, Ella, and I agreed that we didn't like the term 'stepmom.' Instead they came up with the name 'Momala.'" ♥

Shaker EmmyRae sent me [CN: video autoplays at link] this terrific Vice segment on Julián Castro, with the note (which I'm sharing with her permission: "I was following my new morning routine of watching vids of my favorite 2020 Dem candidates. At the end of this video, the interviewer asks Castro about the barrier of being a person of color for gaining traction in the race and he immediately includes women in that assessment. ♥" He and Booker are truly among the best male candidates for the Democratic nomination we've ever had.

In other Castro news, he has "followed up on a pledge he made last year and endorsed his campaign staff's decision to join a union. The campaign announced Thursday that its staff had affiliated with the Campaign Workers Guild. 'It's not enough to talk the talk. You have to walk the walk,' Castro said on social media. 'We are doing this at every step of this campaign. I'm proud to announce that my campaign staff has unionized.'"

Senator Elizabeth Warren, aka Professor Policy, is at it again (and I am loving it)!

That's a nice (and deserved) little swipe at Joe Biden, who voted for the bankruptcy bill.

[CN: Sexual harassment and violence] Also taking a swipe at Biden today is Anita Hill, writing a piece for the New York Times about ending sexual violence, which starts thus:
Last month, Joe Biden called me to talk about his conduct during Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether he has offered me the right words. Given the #MeToo movement and Mr. Biden's bid for the presidency, it's understandable why his role in the hearings is being debated anew.

If the Senate Judiciary Committee, led then by Mr. Biden, had done its job and held a hearing that showed that its members understood the seriousness of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence, the cultural shift we saw in 2017 after #MeToo might have began in 1991 — with the support of the government.
Damn. She isn't wrong.

Here is a long piece about Beto O'Rourke, who comes from a life of extreme privilege and is also a hard worker. It's an interesting thing how being a hard worker is supposed to cancel out being a straight white able-bodied cis man with a background of extreme privilege. And of course it's not O'Rourke's fault that this is the way the world works, but it is his responsibility to acknowledge it and proceed accordingly. But that might mean not running for president, so.

Here is a long piece about Bernie Sanders' mayoral papers, which "are open to researchers at the University of Vermont" and "were not reported during his 2016 run for president," because of course they weren't since Sanders wasn't seriously vetted by the mainstream press during that campaign. And woo their contents!

There are fun (cough) things like this cool observation: "It seemed to me this morning that planning and decision-making were two of the biggest weaknesses that I have. ...Bad planning is having a house that is filthy and looks like shit because I don't hire someone to clean for $15 a week." Or, you know, clean your own house.

And then there are the many complaints about how mundane and unthrilling it is to govern. Which someone (cough) might argue suggests that he wouldn't be a very effective president.

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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