A Song of Ire and Strife
Last night, I astrally projected myself into an alternate universe where Donald Trump succumbed to a heart attack right after Comey revealed the FBI was still investigating Hillary Clinton. Obviously Hillary won the election. For the record, it’s pretty dope. Kanye never went off the deep end, no one knows what a Sarah Huckabee Sanders or a Scaramucci is, and we’ve only had half as many mass shootings. Ted Cruz has just been arrested for conspiring to poison his primary opponents with polonium and Mitch McConnell is still a dick. The Chance album didn’t suck and Andrew Luck hasn’t retired. I could go on. When my journey was over and I had awoken, I knew it was time for me to write about Politics again.
I think it’s important to remember during this coming time of strife that most of your media is already bought and paid for by one candidate or another and the only person that you can really trust is your friendly neighborhood satirist and possibly Amy Goodman. Good thing I wrote this totally objective, totally 100% factual preview of the Democratic primaries for you all to digest at your leisure. You can Venmo me later as gratis.
In the upcoming months, a fever will sweep through this country. Hot takes will be flying through the air at high velocities and fisticuffs will be thrown in polite company. Make no mistake, this upcoming election cycle will make beasts of us all. Election season is always a brutal time to be a thinking human in America, and this next one is shaping up to be a real Thunderdome. This is obviously with good reason. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we’re all quite ready to click our heels together and turn this chaotic, racist, dementia and Adderall-fueled administration back into a bunch of dorky empty suits who dance on Ellen again.
But that’s easier said than done. We have to get behind a candidate first, which is proving to be quite the elusive task. The current crop of Democratic candidates is cursed with the near-impossible task of appealing ideologically and personally to a wide cross-section of moderates and progressives across the socio-political spectrum, then turn around and run a presidential campaign against a guy who farts out of his mouth. It’s like winning American Idol just for the opportunity to wrestle a pig.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we get too immersed into the real fun of muckraking and character assassination that the primary season entails, let’s spend a bit of time refreshing our memories on how primaries work. I promise this will be necessary because otherwise shit is gonna get really confusing later. It’s been over a decade since the Democrats have had a competitive primary with multiple candidates. 2016 was confusing enough when it was just Hillary and Bernie. Remember superdelegates? Like, what the hell? Now we have a full Tarantino cast going into this mosh pit and things are bound to get messy.
The primary process is really easy to understand if you do a lot of cocaine. The key to the primary season is amassing a shitload of delegates. Not voters, delegates. When you and your 100,000 friends go to the polls/caucus and vote for Jim Bob Democrat, you’re just letting your state delegates know that you would really like them to vote for Jim Bob Democrat at the National Convention. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the delegate will actually vote for Jim Bob Democrat. In theory, they could decide to go rogue and vote for Tim Jeff Democrat, especially if Tim Jeff promised the delegate a new Tesla if he wins. That means it’s your democratic duty to go with your 100,000 friends and burn down that delegate’s house if that happens. Luckily, that hasn’t happened yet so there’s no precedent.
The next important point is that a state can hold either a primary or a caucus to determine how their delegates vote. A standard primary works the same way a general election works. You stand in line for thirty minutes behind someone who smells bad before you tell a computer or a piece of paper which candidate you prefer. If a state has a closed primary that means that only registered party members can vote in that particular primary. An open primary means that anyone can vote. If a state has a half-and-half primary it means that they only count half of the votes cast. An old-fashioned primary usually comes with a twist of orange and bitters. Most states use the primary method because it’s the most straightforward and boring option.
A caucus is much livelier. In a caucus, votes are cast as part of a public forum. At each caucus, groups of voters will discuss the merits of their preferred candidate while fending off spitballs from their opposition. In a Republican caucus, they then vote their preferred candidate on a secret ballot. In the much stupider and hilarious Democratic version of the caucus, you literally have to stand in groups with your voting bloc and try to convince other people to come over and join you before a head count vote is conducted. Remember that game Four Corners you did in Kindergarten where they told you to stand by the lockers if you have a cat and you would stand by the lockers with everyone else that had a cat? Same idea.
Still following? Great! Let’s make it more complicated. Under the Republican primary system, some states have a winner-take-all system. That means that even if a candidate wins by .001%, they will receive all of the delegates available to that state. Sound unfair? Welcome to Republicans. Meanwhile, in the Democratic system, states are proportional which means that they reward delegates in proportion to the amount of voters that they receive. If Jim Bob Democrat gets 33% of the vote, he gets 33% of the delegates. This sounds pretty reasonable until we unleash the concept of superdelegates on you. These are magical delegates that can move anywhere on the board and vote however they damn well please at the National Convention. Sound overcomplicated and ridiculous? Welcome to Democrats. No matter what, it’s all bound to be a clusterfuck.
Primary season begins in February when Iowa holds their caucuses. The main reason why Iowa begins the season is because everyone else has a dentist appointment and we all agreed it would be hilarious to make all the candidates pretend they give a shit about ethanol for a month. After the Iowa caucus comes the New Hampshire primaries, then the Nevada caucuses, and finally the South Carolina primary before Super Tuesday. Super Tuesday is when over a dozen states (including California and Texas) hold their primaries/caucuses on the same day and everyone at CNN is drunk off their ass. By this point all the vanity candidates, shit candidates, and hopefully John Delaney will have dropped out of the race due to lack of funds, support, or both. Then it’s just a hop, skip, jump, and bunch of bitching before the Democratic National Convention in July in which one tired, blood spattered candidate is declared the victor.
A Ship of Fools
Despite my consultations with the best fortune tellers in the Denver area, it’s still a little too early to tell how the chips are going to fall. We still have close to a half-year before the Iowa caucuses and that is basically forever in political time. But just like the holidays, primary season comes earlier and earlier every time and there’s a whole lot of Trump blood in the water. Hence the current twenty-plus candidate roster comprised of legitimate politicians, propped up dweebs, and shameless grifters.
To call the current crop of Democratic hopefuls a crowded field would be an understatement. Seeing them all onstage is like seeing a funk band live. There’s no way that everyone up there is serving a purpose. The debates have suffered as a result of this. In the age-old liberal spirit of trying not to upset anyone ever, the DNC has tried to compensate for their comically oversized field by making sure everyone has an equal shot at getting their message out, no matter how shitty it is. This leads to legitimate candidates like Elizabeth Warren being forced to bite her tongue while Marianne Williamson can have the screen-time to babble about how we’ll beat Trump with the powers of love and hibiscus tea. It’s enough to make you want to renounce the current primary system, until you remember that we would revert back to our old Corrupt People Pick The Candidate In A Smoky Room System, which we had until around the 1960’s. So I guess this way is better. Or at least funnier.
I might have been a bit disingenuous when I say that (me, disingenuous?) the lesser candidates don’t serve a purpose. They do serve an important purpose in what we’ll call the “preseason” of the primaries. They’re target practice. It’s too early for the inevitable Progressive Civil War that will take place when Biden, Sanders, and Warren (the three current front-runners) inevitably begin taking real shots at one another. Any MMA or pro wrestling promoter will tell you that you don’t give away the main event matches early in the game. That’s why we’re forced to watch Bernie and Warren defend their progressive ideals against c-team establishment bobbleheads like John Delaney and Joe Biden is only seen on the defensive when he got railroaded by Kamala Harris in the first debates. More on that later.
Electability and The Biden Problem
Warning: What follows may seem a little overly harsh to some. This is not an apology. This is a disclaimer.
There are enough storylines and national intrigue running through this primary season to make Aaron Sorkin grin. Obviously, the biggest thread is finding our shining liberal champion to take out the snorting bile dragon that is the Trump Administration. Some extremely deluded people are still of the belief that Trump may yet be primaried or resign before the general election due to the Totally Real Russia Investigation, but those people eat gluten-free paint chips for breakfast and are not worth discussing.
That is why the arcane concept of “Electability” has been the buzzword of the race so far with Democrats. The meme coming out of the DNC and most moderate Democrats is that, regardless of ideology, we just need a candidate who can beat Donald Trump. This might have been a bit easier for the DNC if they didn’t spend nearly a decade suppressing any potential rising stars in the party so that Hillary could have her moment, but what do I know. That’s why poor Grandpa Joe Biden got drafted into the race. The DNC took a good, hard look at their rookie bench (Harris, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, Booker, Castro) and realized they’re totally boned. After four years of hard work slandering Bernie and the progressive voting bloc, it looked like either Bernie or Warren was still going to be frontrunner as if that was the will of the people or some shit. How embarrassing for everyone. Everything was going just fine and everyone was getting along famously until Biden got introduced to the race. And now the rumblings of Progressive Civil War are in the air.
The Soul of the Party
This primary is so important and dramatic because it is going to serve as a referendum on how progressive/liberal politics are treated in our country for the next decade. Progressive politicians like Bernie, Warren, and AoC (I absolutely refuse to use the stupid ass media-created name of “The Squad”) have hit upon the novel concept (to liberal politicians) that voters are actually excited when politicians take strong stances on relevant issues. For the last twenty years or so, Democrats have been running on a “Republicans are bad and we’re in favor of whatever you are” platform. Remember the scene in Accepted where Justin Long has all the potential students write what they want to study on a big concrete wall and that’s how he creates his school curriculum? That’s how the DNC dictates policy. The only strong stance a mainstream Democrat can take is against guns and maybe racism depending on their district.
The reason for this is, up until recently, talking about “radical” things like universal health care , income inequality, or a departure from the economic status quo was the real estate of dirty left wing socialists and communists. This might seem preposterous considering the Cold War ended nearly thirty years ago until you remember that a majority of our mainstream politicians and policymakers came up in the Cold War (or earlier). That’s why tagging something as “socialist” makes millennial and Gen Z’s roll their eyes while simultaneously scaring the shit out of the DNC’s boomer and Gen X strategists. It’s the kind of a cultural tone-deafness that has characterized modern liberalism for the past decade. Only a DNC strategist could look at the last four years of our country being run by a reality TV show host and question whether the public is ready for an unorthodox candidate. Say what you will about the GOP, but they saw which way the electorate’s wind was blowing with Trump and went all in on the dumbshit. Meanwhile Warren and Sanders are polling at over 50% combined nationally and the Democrats are still trying to shake a fucking magic 8 ball to figure out whether we’re actually okay with these “radical” policy positions.
That’s why this is such an important election for the liberal and progressive population in America. In my mind, there are four different scenarios that can play out:
- Whatever Democratic nominee, progressive or moderate, wins the general election. Then we get to spend the next four years trying to pick up the pieces of everything that got broken in the last four. Hooray!
- A mainstream Democrat like Biden wins the nomination but loses due to lack of voter enthusiasm because he’s Joe Biden. Moderates will hold progressive voters accountable for losing the election and the party will tear itself apart. Hooray!
- A progressive candidate wins the nomination but loses because their policies alienate the Rust Belt, causing the progressives to hold moderates accountable for losing the election and the party tears itself apart anyway. Hooray!
- A gamma ray burst from a far away star wipes out all life on this Earth and we never have another election ever again. Hooray!
So many delightful options! I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future holds. Next week, I’ll be back with our individual candidate profiles! In the meantime, sleep tight.