Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me looking at Twitter on my mobile phone and reacting with horror, while standing 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!

[Content Note: Videos may autoplay at link. Covers entire section.]

The California Democratic Party convention is happening right now, and a lot of the 2020 candidates showed up to speak to convention-goers. One notably absent contender: Joe Biden.

Since he's leading the pack at the moment, he decided instead to head to Ohio, but that might have been a mistake:
Biden, who has sat comfortably atop the polls with a message anchored in more establishment Democratic politics, opted to stay out of the fray, skipping the convention and instead headlining the Human Rights Campaign's annual Ohio gala.

His absence, however, loomed over the events in California, a delegate-rich state that has moved up its primary earlier in 2020, potentially making it much more pivotal to the nomination-selection process.

Handed out at California's Democratic Convention on Sunday by the Sacramento-based activist group Action for a Progressive Future were flyers that asked: "Where is Joe Biden?"

That said, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney were "roundly booed for warning their party against going to far to the left in 2020," which is a similar message to the one Biden is delivering, so maybe steering clear was the better call for Biden — who at least doesn't now have video of himself being resoundingly jeered by his party's base, which is more than Hickenlooper and Delaney can say.

If you'd like to watch some good speeches from candidates who did show up, here is Senator Cory Booker:

I didn't have time to transcribe the entire video, but here is just an excerpt, starting at 3:10: "I am, like our ancestors, I am, like you, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. And so let me tell you what this election is...really about: It is not about one guy in one office. It is about a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other. Beating Donald Trump is a must! Beating Donald Trump is a must — but that is a floor, not a ceiling! We are bigger than that! We have greater ambitions than that!"

And here is Senator Elizabeth Warren:

An excerpt, starting at 1:58: "Some Democrats in Washington believe the only changes we can get are tweaks and nudges. If they dream at all, they dream small. Some say, if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses. But our country is in a time of crisis. The time for small ideas is over. Big problems call for big solutions. If we're gonna save our democracy, build an inclusive economy, clean up the corruption in Washington, we need big, structural change. And, yes, I have a plan for that!"

Additional videos can be found on YouTube, of course.

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In other Warren news, she's going all-in on Iowa, where she and her campaign "aren't predicting victory here, but they are gunning for the kind of performance that would catapult her to front-runner status for the nomination." Smart strategy. Warren told reporters after a town hall in Newton: "Look, Iowa is a chance to do the kind of face-to-face campaigning that I think all the Democrats oughta be doing. This is our chance to build a grassroots movement and that happens one person at a time."

[CN: Nativism; death] I am extremely grateful to Beto O'Rourke for publishing an important Twitter thread on the the death of Johana Medina Leon in U.S. custody and for his robust immigration plan. His thread starts here.

By way of reminder, Julián Castro was the first candidate to publish a comprehensive immigration plan, and it is very good. Today, he's following up his "Putting People First" immigration plan with his "People First Policing" plan "to begin to heal the divide between police departments and the communities they serve." As I noted on Twitter: "People First" is a message that would deeply resonate with me anytime, but especially during the malice-driven agenda of a president who's a void of empathy.

In comments, Shaker RachelB notes: "Aaaaand a white dude rushed the stage at a Kamala Harris event while she was speaking about pay equity and grabbed the microphone from her, insisting afterwards that he had the utmost respect for everyone onstage. He was not charged, because white dude." For fuck's sake.

In other Harris news, she tweeted: "Here's a startling fact: In 99% of U.S. counties, a person working a full time minimum wage job can't afford a 1-bedroom apartment at fair market rate. That's why I introduced the Rent Relief Act to give a tax credit for Americans whose housing costs exceed 30% of their income." So necessary.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg wants to overhaul the Supreme Court: He "has talked about his plan to overhaul the high court since his first days as a candidate. In short, it calls for expanding the number of justices from nine to 15, with five affiliated with Democrats, five affiliated with Republicans, and five apolitical justices chosen by the first 10." I cannot imagine that ever happening, but good luck, Mayor Pete!

Senator Bernie Sanders is still getting bad headlines yikes: "'I'm Not a Bernie Bro': Sanders' Base Splinters in California." There are a lot of theories that have been posited for why Sanders isn't doing as well this time around, and I believe it's a constellation of issues rather than a single reason, but the one that been wildly underestimated in my estimation is the fact that a couple years of Donald Trump has just straight-up soured people on shouty old white dudes. People are looking for relief from Trump, and, temperamentally, Sanders really doesn't provide it.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand used the occasion of her Fox News town hall to rip Fox News a new asshole for being a reprehensible anti-choice propaganda outfit. I love the juxtaposition of these headlines: Politico's "Gillibrand Sticks It to Fox News in Scrappy Town Hall" and Fox News' "'We've Invited You': Chris Wallace Spars with Gillibrand over Abortion Controversy." (The Fox URL for that story is even better, reading "Chris Wallace Calls Out Kirsten Gillibrand for Impolite Jabs at Network During Town Hall.") They're really mad at her for being uncivil about how shitty and harmful they are.

Gillibrand is not backing down, tweeting: "I'm never going to stop fighting for women and for our progressive values — whether or not it's considered 'polite.' That's why I'm running for president."

Honestly, good for her. But also? She is literally making the case for why Democrats shouldn't go on Fox News. The only truly winning move is not to play. #Wargames!

Michael Bennet is still definitely running for president.

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

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