There are too many people vying for the nomination to face Donald Trump in the upcoming election. There are so many Democrats frothing at the mouth, dreaming that they might momentarily rise to the top at just the right moment to take on the monster in the White House. Of course they all think they can beat him (and maybe they can, although the divisions between radicalism and indifference grow wider every day). It comes across like a near-revolutionary moment, one that could define a change from which America may never return.
Of course the election of Trump itself was probably more substantial in this regard, the face and power of the office modified to such an extent, and with such petty legal maneuvering (remember, Trump was well known for suing everyone and everything prior to holding office in order to at least partially have his way), that what we have to look forward to, no matter how divergent the political philosophies might be, is some growing form of totalitarianism, no doubt increasing as the years go by and desperation becomes the manner of the day. None of this changes the fact that this election, in this 24-hour news cycle of attacks and opinions, will be one of the most covered stories in the history of the world.
As the title of this site states (and as I have repeated far too often), this is “editorial history,” meaning that I define history herein through the divisions in belief on numerous, various, and every other issue that people value, at least temporarily. And so, prior to the first Democratic debate tonight on MSNBC, I would like to offer a rundown of who will be arguing, and some snide commentary about what I believe may happen (of course tomorrow, in Part Two, I can discuss how wrong I was and what other people from different sides have to say).
I have said before that election season is my second favorite sport–a true blood sport–behind boxing. Boxing, however, has declined substantially as a public spectacle, and the number of fighters you might be able to name today is at a minimum, if any. There are various reasons for this, the rise of UFC being one of them (on a personal level, watching a UFC fight is either a terrible mismatch that lasts a few seconds, or amounts to a bell to buzzer hold, kind of like a boxing match with 12 rounds of clenching, an exhausting contest of submission where someone tries to hold on and break free for the duration). One time top notch boxers also turn to other sports–football mostly–as a way to secure a more profitable career.
So this leaves politics, something far more vicious and definitely way more rigged and corrupt, even than in the days when gangsters ran the gymnasium. And the current number of candidates is so vast that the debate has been divided into two nights, there not being enough room for all the candidates to fit on the stage. And public interest, ultimately, is far more minimal than most of the candidates wish, regardless of the paparazzi-like cameras and microphones constantly being shoved into their faces, which makes them believe they are truly in demand.
But remember: these are Democrats. Say what you will about their sincerity or morality, in this tabloid culture, they simply aren’t that interesting. We live in a distracted, entertainment oriented society (how else can we explain Donald Trump if we wish to avoid the crippling response of prejudice that has clouded the entire world today?) Democrats are boring. Many of them have flat personalities and come across like the teacher you most despised in school, or self-righteous corporate CEOs of non-profit conglomerates. This is not everyone of course; such generalizations merely reflect the ease with which we write every person off who is of a slightly different shade or mindset from ourselves. But let us get a rundown, somewhat briefly, on the people meant to be arguing with each other are tonight:
First, let us mention those not significant enough to make it onto the unwieldy stage:
Montana governor Steve Bullock. Outside of Montana, most of us are asking “Who?” Bullock likes to boast, accurately, that he won his high office in a state that otherwise dominatingly voted for Donald Trump. Quite an accomplishment, sure. Although–and this is perhaps more important when running for the highest office in the land–his state comprises just over one million people. The land itself is huge, in fact the fourth largest state in the nation behind Alaska, California and Texas. It is a place of empty spaces, perhaps further highlighting the futility of the candidacy of this man there is no reason to believe is unqualified.
Seth Moulton is only 40 years old. He is a Congressman from Massachuesetts, in fact comprising a rather large and populous area. He is a former Marine who has made it a point to call President Trump “unpatriotic,” and has come as close as anyone in government to calling him “a traitor.” Harvard educated with a degree in Physics, I suspect we will be hearing more from Rep. Moulton in the future. His time has yet to come.
This is Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Florida. A first generation American (his parents were both from Jamaica, where his father cut sugarcane for a living), Messam has a pretty interesting personal resume. For example, he was a star wide receiver at Florida State University, a member of the 1993 National Championship team. He is currently the President of the National Black Caucus for elected officials. He is clearly a smart, very capable man. He will never be president, although a future in the Senate with a powerful voice seems to be something he has to look forward to.
Mike Gravel. Former Senator from Alaska from 1969-1981. He is 89 years old. He has certainly had an impressive career, increasingly long ago. What else can I say about him and his chances?
So that brings us to the individuals who scraped their way onto the stage, some of them questionably. What should we look forward to tonight?
Bill de Blasio, current mayor of New York City. He is mostly despised in his home town, more unpopular, even, than President Trump in this massive liberal bastion. A gross, giant of a man, his snide New Yorker style will fulfill every negative stereotype people elsewhere in the nation have about the city (and embarrass many of his people looking merely for someone to support against the President). De Blasio even engaged in a bleak, pathetic exchange with his 21-year old son for “debate preparation.” And while his son is certainly not at fault, and may very well be an intelligent young man, who can see this as anything other than a cheap attempt to get the youth vote? No chance. He will probably be done running for President after tonight.
Tim Ryan, Congressman from northeastern Ohio for the past fifteen years. Here is another person who makes me feel badly about myself and is therefore all the more impressive. He is younger than me and has been in Congress since he was 30. At 30 I was a bartender. Ryan supports a number of traditional Democratic positions, from healthcare and education, through different international policies and protection of the environment. Apparently a decent guy, someone very likable in his interviews, he remains outside the upper echelon of candidates and reminds me of the sort of successful politician who might someday become Vice President. He’ll probably last to the second round.
Julian Castro, once the secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration, is yet another man younger than I am today. The former mayor of San Antonio, Castro is a pretty impressive guy. He is the first serious Hispanic candidate for President of the United States. I like Castro, although most of the nation will not. A sincere man, focusing, predictably, on immigration and police brutality as chief issues in need of change, this talented young man will probably look really good and sound excellent during the debate, and yet will still drop out shortly thereafter. He will lend his minimal support to one of the other second tier candidates, and then look forward to a successful future as either a Senator from or actually the governor of Texas. He has a great future to look forward to.
Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey, strikes me as perhaps the nicest person currently running for President, something that will easily write him off as ‘weak’ in some people’s minds. A serious politician, one of the few that appears to actually believe in truth and justice, Booker is also very easy for, particularly, Republicans to publicly destroy. This is for no reasons of his own, but simply because he can be, with wholly racist intent, painted as an Obama clone. A vegan (no one really likes vegans), and dating a celebrity, Booker will likely spend a long time in the Senate throughout his life, perhaps lose an election with someone else as their VP candidate, and then continue on as before, a regular television presence with worthwhile issues to discuss. No chance whatsoever. He would lose to Trump.
Do not count Elizabeth Warren out because I believe she could genuinely win. Presently an influential Senator from Massachusetts and a former law school professor specializing in bankruptcy law, Warren is unapologetically liberal, and there is certain purity to her stances on many issues. Unlike most of her competitors, she does not shy away from expressing what she believes, and she rarely falls into the trap of mindlessly repeating the party line. Clearly brilliant, her only real problem seems to come within the divided young, social justice warrior crowd who (for some reason) resent her supplanting Bernie Sanders as the left-wing favorite. Not a socialist by any means, the increased comparisons to Sanders can prove ultimately damaging for Warren. Expect her to kill on the stage tonight. She is much smarter than all of them.
Beto O’Rourke, former Texas Congressman and early on the “It” boy of the Democratic Party. He has lost a lot of steam and often comes across like he’s not particularly bright. Certainly good-looking, charming, and with an appealing personality (particularly to the less serious young), Beto has absolutely no chance, ever. I see him, eventually, getting a job and maybe even a show with MSNBC, or someplace like that, living a much better life than he could if he continued with politics. Whomever he throws his dwindling support towards will thank him for it.
Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota would probably make a wonderful President. She looks like (and rumors are that she is) a real bitch. An engagingly competent and serious individual, Klobuchar does not appear to have the charm to maintain her campaign, especially when there are so many other qualified women running against her (and yes, regardless of how you might take this, those other women are who she is truly running against). I would personally much prefer Klobuchar to remain in the Senate. Should the Democrats ever re-win that stronghold, couldn’t you see her being every bit as cruel and unbending as Mitch McConnell? She needs to stay put. She will likely do very well in the debate, thus wasting more time away from the serious work she should be undertaking.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is an interesting and unique person. She is a first many times over: first Samoan-American in Congress as well as first Hindu (Hindu!) that we know of, in US Representative government. Vehemently anti-war, Gabbard promises to divert trillions of dollars away from the military and into such homebound issues as health care and improved education. It might be difficult to not support this, but the panic and paranoia on display in this increasingly closed-border land will make her stance on the military come across as traitorous to many. No chance. Tonight is it for her.
If he had a chance, I would personally support Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. The only candidate putting the environment first (and thus the person who cares the most about human life), there is a lot to admire about the man. Very smart, very dedicated, but with an easy sense of humor, Inslee is the sort of liberal that would be taken apart by the other wolves on the prowl, and his bones would not even be spit out, just chewed up for marrow until he is little more than husk. He will stay in Washington, perhaps become a Senator (Vice President might be a possibility too, because he really does not offend anyone), and continue being a voice in favor of planet earth.
The last person on stage tonight is former Maryland Congressman John Delany. Probably number 19 or 20 to make it through the initial phase to get on stage, Delany is a pretty good politician. A serious foreign policy wonk, this is the sort of person we would want in the White House during wartime (and by that I mean world wartime). But since even the idea of war has been blurred in the partisan media, a relatively honest, mostly upstanding citizen like Delany has no chance whatsoever and will likely drop out after the debates tonight. He is, however, the sort of unknown who could also drastically rise with an impressive performance, needing to correct a few of the top tier candidates without calling them stupid, and logically bringing them around to his way of thinking. I see a future as one of the expert commentators on CNN, articulating certain realities that only a portion of Americans believe.
And so this is day one, a full card that I will certainly be watching with great interest. An analysis of this debate tomorrow will follow, along with a preview of the next one, featuring the far better known candidates (other than Warren) barking out their answers at one another. Following that Part Three of this discussion will evaluate what comes next.