Some dogs can’t be left alone at home because they get anxious and tear up the place. It’s been said that the reason for this behavior, aside from the loss of security that a dog feels when someone is with them, may also be that the dog can’t conceive of a time other than the present moment…their owner is gone, they’re alone now and will be forever (after seeing the damage, an owner may indeed wish they didn’t come back, “Mommy’s home! Who’s a good boy?! Oh my fucking God, what did you do to the ottoman?!”).
Unfortunately, many media pundits show a similar struggle with object permanence when it comes to the normal, reoccurring process of primaries. They have been tearing up the social furniture out of fear and panic because a strange thing called a primary is going on. Instead of a primary having trust falls and drum circles, the candidates are now actually criticizing each other so they can convince voters why they should be the nominee instead of any of the others!
“Oh my lord, I’m gettin’ the vapors! It’s only helping Trump to get re-elected if we have a real primary 8 months before the General Election! America will remember exactly what happened on February 19th when it’s November 3rd and helplessly vote for the Russian-backed dictator because they saw the Democratic nominee criticized on that day! Take me now, Lord!”
Really? This happens every four years and in both parties except when there’s an incumbent president running for re-election. It’s like the first day of rain for the season in Los Angeles when many people drive as poorly as if they’ve never driven in rain ever before. This amnesiac/panic mindset is delusional and self-destructive.
Yet, from all the pundit and social media caterwauling, one might assume that never in the history of the U.S. has a presidential general election been preceded by a primary. The howling about “circular firing squads” and “only helping Trump” that accompany the clutching of pearls and fanning of brows would be amusing if it wasn’t so desperate…and anti-democratic.
The 2008 primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was a brutal primary, both hammered the other. As was the fierce 2016 primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And also in 2016, the Republican primary was like watching meth-crazed hogs go at each other in a mud pit (no wonder Trump won! I will never forget Marco Rubio’s idiocy in thinking that the “presidential” tactic to defeat Trump was to do a clumsy impression of him and announce that Trump’s small hands reflected his smallness elsewhere).
In those years, there were these same hysterics about how Hillary’s attacks on Obama fatally damaged him as a General Election candidate and how Bernie’s attacks on Hillary did the same to her (Hillary did not win the Electoral College but she did win the popular vote and Sanders’ attacks on her in the primary were trivial compared to the damage done to her by massive Russian interference and Comey’s FBI announcement reopening the email investigation just days before the election). Trump was considered terminally damaged by all the attacks on him and the horrible things he said. There is no track record in recent history of a contentious primary being the cause for any party’s candidate to lose. Many years ago, it may have made a difference when incumbent presidents were challenged in primaries but otherwise, this is a bogus claim. So why is it being made and who benefits from it?
After what seems to be the most-watched primary debate in American history, which is a good thing, there have been choruses of condemnation against Warren, Buttigieg and others for being aggressive. “They should have been attacking Trump instead!”
No. They are not running against Trump right now, they are running against the other candidates on that stage. If they don’t beat the other Dems out for the nomination, they absolutely won’t ever be running against Trump anyway. It is a bit astounding that these Concern Pundits don’t understand that the number 1 comes before the number 2 in a two-step process.
THE ORDER OF HOW THINGS WORK IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
- Candidates compete against each other in a primary to win the nomination.
- One party’s nominee competes against the other party’s nominee in the General Election.
Seems pretty simple, right? How would all the candidates nodding in agreement about the outrageous and criminal behavior of Trump, even be a debate? Would it best help voters to decide which candidate they should support over the others or who they definitely don’t want as the nominee? Would it be a test of which candidate is best to bring the fight to Trump and withstand the attacks Trump will bring? To just nod their heads and pat each other on the back for being right? Of course not. Singing Kumbaya is not what primaries are about. The unity always comes later, after the primary is over, the party comes together. So my message to these panicked pundits is, stop tearing up the ottoman, the person you want to be there will be with you very soon, just a few months from now.
On another aspect, the desperation to scramble for a “savior” to parachute into the race and essentially buy the nomination like a new yacht is not democracy and is exactly how elections are lost. But for some people and corporations with great wealth, this may be more about opportunistically exploiting the worries of the public to install someone who will protect their greed and growing dominance of the 99%.
Panic is contagious. Yes, people are rightfully panicked as they watch Trump tearing apart the Constitution, the rule of law and every institution that protects the American people from tyranny and harm. However, as many of us have tried to teach our children along the way, good decisions come from being thoughtful and seeing the big picture, not surrendering to immediate emotional impulses. Any of these pundits (and entire news organizations like MSNBC) that have been pushing for Bloomberg to buy out the Dem nomination, are doing so primarily because they don’t want a Progressive Democrat winning the presidency and coming for their unjust wealth and influence (MSNBC’s parent company, Comcast, has donated multiple times to Trump’s campaign). They light their hair on fire daily, warning that if anyone other than a status quo Democrat or Republican-Lite wins the nomination, Trump will be re-elected. What betrays this cover story though is that at the same time, they keep reporting polls that show the Democratic candidates would beat Trump in the General Election.
So how can it be that polls show all the Democratic frontrunners beating Trump AND we should be in a panic to give up our values to anoint a racist, misogynist, self-entitled, Republican billionaire as the Democratic nominee because Trump will be re-elected if we nominate any of those Democratic frontrunners who are beating Trump in polls?
Both of these things can’t be true so one of them is a convenient cover for an unspoken agenda.
These pundits and news organizations have been championing and promoting the anti-democratic mentality of, “Don’t worry about supporting democracy, let’s just let the billionaire buy the nomination so we can definitely beat Trump. I’m sure our new billionaire overlord will smile down upon us with gratitude (he’d never feel self-entitled)! That way, we can collaborate with Trump in diminishing democracy, severely damage our political party and its brand, discourage many of the voters we need to win this election from being motivated to vote or continue to see the Democratic Party as representing them! The only way to save our democracy is to let Bloomberg own it and preserve it in a museum!”
When one considers the enormous reach that spending nearly half a billion dollars has already bought Bloomberg, while he is bribing influencers on social media to promote him, overpaying salaries to buy up political operatives, has been and is contributing a fortune to Democratic politicians and their causes to buy them off to endorse and support him, added to the smothering blizzard of ads he pays for on tv and the web, it is truly frightening how wealthy individuals are absolutely in a position to buy popularity, the presidency and massive power over the nation. Democrats should be furiously pushing back at this, not rationalizing away the ethical deterioration this requires.
Real Democrats don’t believe in plutocracy, oligarchy or the concept of letting billionaires buy the presidency instead of someone earning it through campaigning among the people. It’s understandable that many Americans are scared right now by Trump dragging the country down into a dictatorship, that is a legitimate concern. As is the prospect of 4 more years of a newly minted authoritarian state run by a madman tyrant. So, the rush by many to reach for a savior type candidate, “Big Daddy” who will use all his billions to protect us all from a real threat to our country and future, is not surprising. But the people who support Bloomberg for these reasons are making decisions out of fear and rewarding Trump whose recipe for destroying our democracy is making people doubt that it can work.
Another aspect that the self-interested Never Trumper Republican pundits and the corporate media organizations promoting Bloomberg either aren’t aware of or are intentionally setting up, is that when an elitist billionaire tries to buy the nomination in a primary, he has not built genuine and broad public support behind himself. Money only goes so far, it will not make people of color enthusiastic to come out and vote for a proven racist. It will not make women enthusiastic to come out and vote for a proven misogynist. The way Democrats won the 2018 elections was with more enthusiastic turnout from both of these demographics along with increased youth vote. The only way to beat Trump in the swing states is with those same voters who delivered victory for Democrats in 2018. Bloomberg has the charisma and appeal of a wedge of gorgonzola that’s been left out overnight. He could end up being successful in buying the nomination but these types of voters already see him for what he is, an adversary who has harmed people like them and if he is crowned the king of the Democratic party, many will simply not see why it matters to vote or be a Democrat anymore.
What Wednesday night’s contentious debate also provided to voters is an exposing of Bloomberg’s weakness and the chops that other candidates have in attacking a smug, billionaire opponent (kind of convenient to have on your resume). Most Democrats should feel pretty good actually, there were broadly positive reviews for all of the other candidates except Klobuchar (she ran into real trouble over the immigration and Mexico issues). It may have been messy but the supporters of any of them can feel a bit better about how they can stand up for themselves in a fight. That’s what a primary is about, testing candidates, seeing if they have the mettle to get into and win conflicts with their opponents because the General Election will be war, probably the worst and most disgusting we’ve ever seen. Hiding behind hundreds of billions of dollars in ads doesn’t and won’t prepare Bloomberg to win in November, he would most likely lose badly to Trump due at least in part to his self-entitled and elitist mentality, thinking he can buy the election without working for it.
As for the legitimate but overblown “electability” worries about Sanders, he is in the best position right now but for those worrying that he’s not inclusive enough to win the nomination, if that’s true, he won’t win. Sanders averages support in the high 20s which is enough to win some states (he won by very little in IA and NH) but it also means that he does not currently have enough support to beat a Dem candidate head-to-head, with just two of them left in the race. And that time will come too. After Super Tuesday, just two and a half weeks from now, when one third of all delegates have been awarded, candidates who don’t perform will drop out more and more or see their support dry up.
For entertainment purposes only and understanding that given the chance to put on a t-shirt without a tag, I usually put it on backwards then have to correct it, I humbly offer some predictions on the primary to at least illustrate how the race will narrow very soon and the candidate who represents the majority of the party will win in the end.
THE PLANETPOV DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY PREDICTO-RAMA
(Your actual results may vary. Be sure to take Predicto-Rama with grains of salt.)
- AMY KLOBUCHAR – OUT OF COMPETITION AFTER SUPER TUESDAY
Klobuchar had a bad debate night on Wednesday. Already having little support from people of color, things got worse for her when her vote to make English the official language of the U.S. and not knowing the name of the president of Mexico or his policies, when she sits on Senate committees where such knowledge is required, really slams that door shut. She got a bump in IA and NH because those nearly-fully-white states positively related to her debate performance but neither that nor this performance brings people of color on board. Her polling in Nevada and South Carolina is third tier, in the single digits for the most part. It will probably be the set-up punch that Super Tuesday, with many diverse-race states that don’t favor Klobuchar, likely follows with a knockout punch. Her contributions would then dry up, she wouldn’t be able to campaign around the country. She may still choose to stay in well after she’s lost viability, hoping for a brokered convention to pick her but that won’t happen, the nominee will need to have solid support from black and brown communities.
2. TOM STEYER – OUT OF COMPETITION BY END OF MARCH
Steyer has been heavily spending in South Carolina to have that one big showing (if not win) that justifies his staying in. Steyer has been in other states like CA, spending heavily on media. However, Bloomberg’s entry into the race has undercut and usurped Steyer’s strategy. Steyer has been benefitting from gaining support almost completely in the Bloomberg way, through lots of advertising and getting low info, consumer-voters who let commercials convince them of what they should buy. This is unsustainable, even with Steyer’s wealth, especially with Bloomberg’s overwhelming wealth and advertising counteracting his advertising so after Super Tuesday, with no wins in his pocket and coming in near the bottom in most states (aside from SC), Steyer will look like an also-ran and be unable to attract voters or keep from hemorrhaging the fickle voters he was able to bring over through ads.
3. PETE BUTTIGIEG – OUT OF COMPETITION BY THE END OF MARCH
This may appear to be an even riskier prediction but Buttigieg’s best days in this primary seem to be behind him. Buttigieg has the funding and decent-enough numbers from IA and NH to survive his likely disappointing results in Nevada and South Carolina and go on through Super Tuesday and the next round of primaries after that. However, like Klobuchar, Buttigieg benefitted from whiter-than-white IA and NH voters but his almost non-existent support from people of color will diminish his performance in many of the upcoming states. No candidate can win the Dem primary (or the GE for that matter) without support from the black and Latino communities so Buttigieg, who has exhibited little ability to reach out to these communities, is living on borrowed time in this primary. He was the young, new guy with great oratory skills (though an undermining talent for exploiting that to deliver wordy but unmeaningful and vague statements) but he clearly has no connection with people of color and past behavior that reflects a degree of prejudice. Buttigieg may continue to receive a portion of the white vote, not rising to the levels it’s been so he also could be among the candidates who drop down from being a competitor but stay in the race to hope for a brokered convention that would select him…but that will never happen due to his lack of minority support.
4. JOE BIDEN – CONTENDER IF NOT OUT OF COMPETITION AFTER SOUTH CAROLINA
Biden has only weakened over time, at an accelerated rate since Bloomberg got into the race. While Bloomberg was damaged in the debate and his rise may have been stopped and even reversed, Biden has little room to grow. He is fully a known commodity yet his support has been weak and quick in recent weeks to stray. There is not a lot of negativity or enthusiasm for Biden, people seem to feel mildly about him. It’s hard to see Dems suddenly becoming enthusiastic and unifying behind him. As Biden freely has admitted, South Carolina is his firewall. With Biden’s lead in SC slashed from double digits to just 5% above Sanders in the latest poll, at just 24% total, a marginal win will announce that Biden doesn’t have the strength to win much of anywhere else in the primary. If he loses in SC, it will be over for Biden immediately. The more painful path for Biden is if he wins by 5% or less, he will likely declare victory and claim it will boost him in Super Tuesday but he will know that losing the huge lead he had in the one state he could dominate reflects that he doesn’t have the support to win. However, if Biden wins SC by double digits or close to that, Biden would return to top contender status and his candidacy would be revived. He would also be in a strong position to stay in the race until the convention if it looks like it may be brokered. He would definitely be a top competitor for nominee in that situation if he has shown strength along the way.
5. ELIZABETH WARREN – CONTENDER?
Warren had been on a downward slide for months but her debate performance on Wednesday and having the perfect foil in Bloomberg to return to her “fighter for the people” mode may have turned the tide on her primary prospects. The results this Saturday from Nevada’s caucus will confirm this. It still would be a tough road ahead for Warren, she doesn’t have very strong support among voters of color, that is something she either builds or it will lead to her falling out of contention. However, she is also not like Klobuchar and Buttigieg who have next to no minority support. Polls are not showing Warren winning any states at this point but they are showing her contending for 2nd or 3rd in many states and this is before her big fundraising and popularity bounce after the debate. If Warren comes in 2nd or nearly 2nd in Nevada, she will appear to be on the rise. Otherwise, Warren has a bigger incentive than other candidates on the bubble, to stay in the race no matter what and hope for another opportunity. This is because in polling, Warren leads when voters are asked who they would be least disappointed in winning the nomination. Sanders and Bloomberg are very polarizing and it is questionable if either could win the nomination outright or at a brokered convention. Even if she doesn’t win states, if Warren can finish strongly in enough states and have a substantial delegate total going into the convention, if Sanders has not locked down a majority of delegates and stays generally in the percentage range he’s in now, Warren could be one of the best-positioned candidates to win over delegates to get the nomination as a unity candidate, even if she doesn’t win many states but has strong showings.
6. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG – CONTENDER
Bloomberg is in a situation not dissimilar to Sanders in one way, he is polarizing and has a big segment of Dem voters strongly opposed to his candidacy. When Warren handed him his heart still beating at the debate (“Kali-ma!”), Bloomberg’s phony mythology that his hundreds of billions built in the public’s minds, was popped like a balloon at a cactus farm. The image of Bloomberg that was also promoted on MSNBC endlessly and throughout the corporate media was exposed as a sham. Yet, there are and will be many authoritarian Democrats who still want this billionaire to takeover being king because he will be a good king, promise! Bloomberg has no incentive to ever leave the race even though his rise in the polls may now be blunted. He also knows that if he stays in to split the non-Sanders vote, it might prevent any of the other candidates from being the one to take on Sanders head-to-head. Then at a brokered convention, he could call in his debts from Superdelegates and other Dems and rally support from the corporate elite connected to the DNC to push for him. Not to mention throwing lots of money around to pay off or tempt Dems to support him. Bloomberg will likely be a thorn in the side of this primary through the convention unless Sanders wins a majority of delegates outright (or a near majority or is massively ahead of whoever is in 2nd place). In the end, I would hope the party resists the suicidal but seemingly-lucrative choice of installing a racist, misogynist, elitist and arrogant Republican billionaire as the leader of the Democratic Party and the uninspiring, bound-to-lose candidate against Trump.
7. BERNIE SANDERS – FRONT RUNNER
Not a lot needs to be said about Sanders campaign…because he’s said the same thing for years and years 😉 and is indisputably now leading all other candidates in the primary. The potential threat to his winning the nomination though is substantial. First, there is an “us and them” rigidity to his support. He has between 20% – 30% of Democratic voters (in polls) supporting him avidly. But too many in that base are fervent and sometimes angry (some folks supporting him are pleasant and thoughtful, don’t want to paint with too broad a brush). Sanders’ sensibility is that he is leading a revolution and that there should not be any compromise on his ideals. He also openly promotes being a Democratic Socialist and the benefits of socialism. This really resonates with younger voters especially but with others as well. It also drives a wedge between him and many other Dem voters. There are also many Dem voters who supported Hillary in 2016 and rightly or wrongly, have very negative feelings towards Sanders due to how he acted in that primary. So while Sanders seems to be the most likely right now to receive a plurality of delegates by the end of the primary and 30% may be enough to have the most among 7 candidates, it would still represent that 70% of Democrats are not supporting Sanders. What Sanders would have to do is convince Dems before or at the convention to come on board his train and that it’s where they would have a seat and feel welcome. That seems like a challenging road for such a strident individualist to navigate. And how would his supporters feel about Sanders compromising himself and his proposals to win over delegates? Looking at this holistically, Sanders seems likely to win a plurality of delegates in the primary but not be in an ideal position to win a majority of delegates at the convention along with the nomination.
HOW THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY COULD GREATLY CHANGE
This may not be surprising but as the field narrows, once we get to April, there may be a consolidation of the non-Sanders voters behind one candidate and that candidate might then be able to build a majority of delegates to outright win the nomination over Sanders or be a legit contender in a brokered convention.
The likeliest candidates to have a path to survive March and continue as a contender into April may be Biden, Bloomberg and Warren. Of those, Warren would seem to be best positioned to unite support and Democrats from different camps behind her (though she would need to really improve her support from people of color). Warren does have the enthusiasm factor, the unifying factor and the fighter persona, all of which could make her that candidate to offer an alternative to Sanders. Biden has a base of mostly older voters, who definitely vote in higher numbers but Biden’s underperforming in state after state and not being attractive to younger voters underlines the charisma and enthusiasm deficit that would make him less likely to energize Dems to all get behind him. Bloomberg is like a codfish that has billions of dollars, he’s cold, expressionless and doesn’t generate enthusiasm. He is strongly disliked by big swaths of the party and his attempt to buy the party and nomination would make him a hard sell to principled Dems. That said, the wealthy have been buying political offices for centuries, it’s not unimaginable for a billionaire to buy off enough people to purchase a nomination for himself.
All of the above predictions are for entertainment purposes only, events like debates and election results can change so much in a day and what actually happens could be very different than what could be imagined today. What I’m trying to illustrate though through these predictions is that the things people may be worried about as impending when it comes to the primary are overblown.
If Bernie can build majority support before or during the convention, he will be a de facto unity candidate for Democrats. If he can’t build on his 20%-30% by the time of the convention, he won’t be the nominee (the convention rules that they all agreed to does not award the nomination to a candidate who has a plurality, Sanders or any other leading nominee will need to convince a majority to support them and whoever does so, deserves the nomination).
So consider the big picture. Don’t let pundits, news channels or social media succeed in panicking you to support someone you dislike just to beat Trump (because it may not even be true). Don’t let them stampede you to accept that the primary is over before someone has the majority of delegates and has actually won it. Vote for who you think can beat Trump and best represents your views.
And don’t let anyone try to tell you that having a primary where candidates toughly compete against each other for the nomination is foolish or self-destructive for the party. Dems will come together this Summer and rally behind whoever the nominee as they always do…especially this year because the prospects of Trump as our dictator for the foreseeable future is an existential threat that overrides any argument against any of the Dem candidates.