(D)Electable

First: let me be clear.

Elizabeth Warren is the best candidate.

Image result for elizabeth warren

She’s the smartest, the most practical, the best prepared, and the strongest speaker and debater. It’s true: Pete Buttigieg is a Rhodes scholar who speaks seven languages, but Warren is a former law professor who taught at nearly as many universities as Buttigieg speaks languages, including Rutgers, Michigan, Penn and Harvard (And if you count that she taught Sunday School… no, kidding.), and was one of the most-cited experts in bankruptcy and commercial law, who created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when she wasn’t even in politics. Senator Klobuchar is a fighter from a Midwest state who grew up in difficult circumstances, became a county attorney and has been successful in the Senate; Warren has much the same resume, and I think Warren’s policy proposals are more extensive, detailed, and considered. Sanders, Warren, and Biden have the best campaign infrastructure and the broadest support, and I would argue that Warren is the best prepared of those three to get to work after the election. And if you’ve watched the debates, you’ve seen the same things I’ve seen: Biden wavering between foggy and yelling at kids to get off his lawn, Sanders giving a lot of pat answers (No shame; he’s been campaigning on the same arguments for five years now, and fighting for them in Washington for thirty), Buttigieg sounding good but not saying a whole lot, Klobuchar saying a whole lot but not sounding good — and Warren answering every question immediately, directly, Yes or No, and then going into a specific and detailed explanation of her clear answer.

I realize this is my perception only, and that others have vastly differing impressions of these candidates. Senator Warren is struggling right now, having placed third in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire. This is a good article about her current situation, which also looks to her future — which is what her campaign is doing.

But my perceptions of Elizabeth Warren, and your perceptions of other candidates, are not what I am here to talk about. I want to talk about the curse that seems to have descended on every genuinely good candidate, and which has pushed far too much credibility into two candidacies that are complete nonsense: Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg. That curse is — ELECTABILITY.

I’ve heard that Sanders isn’t electable because he’s a socialist, that Buttigieg isn’t electable because he’s gay, that Klobuchar isn’t electable because she’s a woman — and of course that Elizabeth Warren isn’t electable because she’s a socialist, and a woman, and she fails various purity tests for progressives because she used to be a Republican and she has this weird pseudo-scandal regarding Native American heritage. (Let me be clear: claiming a heritage you haven’t lived in order to claim privilege, taking opportunities away from those who genuinely need them, is wrong and appalling. Claiming a heritage you haven’t lived just for the sake of, I don’t know, cocktail conversation, is weird and offputting. Holding someone’s past against them in clear defiance of their current character is all four: wrong, appalling, weird and offputting. All of it. The left needs to get over this shit. Trump’s past is disqualifying, because he’s not any different now. Know the difference.) I would prefer to hear that Biden isn’t electable because he’s a doofy former sidekick who has far too much history in Washington, far too much of it questionable; and that Bloomberg isn’t electable because he’s a billionaire trying to buy an election from another billionaire, not to mention his own history of racist politics with the Stop-and-Frisk policy from his tenure as mayor of New York City. But even that isn’t what I really want to hear.

What I really want to hear is that Donald Trump is not electable because he’s an absolute mound of shit. Dung mountain. Poop’s Peak. I want to hear that every single other candidate is more electable than Donald Trump: because they are. Even the ones I dislike. Even Marianne goddamn Williams– no, that’s too far. But everybody else is more electable. What I really want to hear is that the voters of this country have woken up to the danger of having this man in office, and are determined to find the very best replacement: not that we’re so goddamned worried about the opinions of sexist, homophobic dipshits in half a dozen states that we’re going to throw away the best candidates for Trump’s replacement in favor of some rich fucking old white guy.

That’s not to say that the next president shouldn’t be a rich old white fucking guy. Personally I think the next 45 presidents should be women, just as the next 109 Supreme Court Justices should be women (Can you believe there have only been 113 justices on the Court total? TOTAL?! In 211 years?!? Also: can you believe that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s own website actually doesn’t list Brett Kavanaugh as one of them? HA! Suck it, Fratboy!) and ditto for not-white people, but I’m open to literally anyone, so long as they will do the job. My problem with Donald Trump is not that he is a rich old fucking white guy, it’s that’s he’s a colossus of crap, an edifice of excrement, who is destroying the country because he doesn’t care about doing the job. I would happily vote for Mike Bloomberg or Joe Biden if I believed they could do the job. (I don’t think they can. Yes, I will still vote for them if they are the nominee.)

But it’s clear to me, and it should be clear to all of us, that of the best candidates currently running (And I think that Cory Booker and Andrew Yang, and maybe Julian Castro and Kamala Harris, and probably some older whiter guys like Michael Bennet or Jay Inslee or et cetera, should still be in this race over Biden and Bloomberg and Steyer, and that all of them would far surpass Trump), only one good one is an old white guy, and he ain’t rich. So the argument about electability, a euphemism for “pleasing to the swing voters in the battleground states,” a circumlocution for “fucking rich old white  guy,” should be dropped in the face of the facts: our best candidates for president, with one exception, are not old white men. (If we make it old Christian white men, then I can make the statement without exception; I’m not ignoring the fact that there is a young white man in the group, but the fact of his sexual orientation puts him into the Unelectable column as well. It is telling, however, that he is doing better than both the  viable women candidates despite his youth and inexperience and gayosity; apparently “white” and “male” have more to do with it than age and sexuality. And I thought of such a good dick joke to make here, but I’m not making it. Out of respect. For America. You’re welcome.)

The electable argument is nonsense. Not only that, but it is damaging nonsense. So not only should we ignore it, we should actively cast it aside. “But Dusty, what about 2016??” Right, when Clinton, who was by far the better candidate, won the popular vote by 3,000,000 but still lost the election because of a few swing voters in battleground states? Thereby proving that only fucking rich old white guys can win the Presidency?

What about 2012, when the quintessential rich old fucking white guy lost? To a comparatively young, comparatively not-rich, clearly not white guy? Who won Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida? Won the popular vote by 5,000,000?

But Obama was the incumbent. Surely that doesn’t count.

Okay: 2008, then, when Obama defeated a rich old white FUCKING WAR HERO guy (Who is still the epitome of an honorable Republican, who is still mourned  and memorialized and held essentially sacred — except they didn’t fucking vote for him, did they?) by 10,000,000 votes, carrying 28 states to McCain’s 22?

I’ll tell you who’s electable. The person who wins, that’s who’s electable.

We who oppose the Turd-Berg’s re-election need to understand that the difference is not going to be made by wooing the swing voters in the battleground states. The difference is going to be made by new voters. Here: look at this. And realize that

He [Data  scientist Hamdan Azhar concluded, with help from The Cook Political Report, that the election hinged not on Clinton’s large 2.8 million overall vote margin over Trump, but rather on about 78,000 votes from only three counties in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.[387][388]

[From Wikipedia]

And then realize that the —

Hold up.

I was going to point out that the electorate in all three of those battleground states has grown by more than the number of critical swing voters.

But all three states have fewer registered voters now than they did in 2016. Wisconsin breaks it down by age group, and every age group is smaller — except for 65+. (Notice that this shit is still going on)

I don’t — I don’t know what to say about this now.

No. I know.  And you know, too.

It’s this: it doesn’t matter who the Democratic candidate is in the general election. Donald Trump will call every single one of them a socialist. He will have stupid nicknames for every single one of them. Every single one of them will make him look like an ass in any debate — Hillary Clinton certainly did.

But unless we get to work, Trump will win the same way he did last time: by squeezing every last old white vote out of the battleground states, by making everyone feel hopeless and despondent, as if their vote doesn’t matter, so why bother, and by suppressing every single vote he possibly can, particularly votes from young people and people of color. Which is also how the Republicans plan to keep hold of the Senate and keep Mitch McConnell in control.

So I hope that every single candidate will do their utmost to appeal to every voter they can. (I still hope it’s Elizabeth Warren, and so long as it is primary season, I’m still going to support her, and I’m going to vote for her next month when my state’s primary comes along. And if she drops out  — which she probably won’t — then I’m voting for Bernie.). But my job, and your job, is to support the organizations that are going to be working to register voters and then get them to the polls. Join phone banks, knock on doors, give every dollar you can to every group trying to do those things. Take Election Day off of work and drive people to the polls. Go stand outside sensitive polling places and call the cops on every MAGA-hat wearing asshole who tries to intimidate voters. Bring water and food to people in line to vote.

The voice of the American people will, I absolutely believe, shout down Donald Trump. We have to make sure that voice actually gets heard.

The electable candidate is every candidate: so long as we do the work to elect them.

Wanted:

 


(Couldn’t resist)

I want to say that I want everything back that I’ve wasted. All the money, all the time, all the opportunities.

The money I spent on things that would have been cheaper if I had waited, or if I had gone to another store. The money I wasted on things that I thought would be better than they were. The money I threw away  on things that broke as soon as I bought them: things that I threw away almost before the money for them left my hand. I want back the money I spent on the ten bikes I lost between the ages of 8 and 18. One a year. I want back the money for all the food I have bought and dropped, all the expensive coffee I have spilled, everything I’ve bought that went bad before I got a chance to eat it.  My God, I want back all the money I spent on cigarettes.

I want back the time I’ve lost being bored. Being depressed. Thinking that I just didn’t feel like doing anything useful or important, or even anything fun. Just doing something I enjoyed would have made me feel better; why couldn’t I just do that? Just start? All the time I have spent changing channels instead of turning off the TV, and turning pages of bad books rather than putting them down and picking up better ones, and all the mindless video game levels I have played, and replayed, and played again. I can’t even remember the video games I’ve finished: but I remember  how anticlimactic it has always been to reach that final screen. I have never had a less satisfying “win.”

I want back the time I gave to people who didn’t deserve it, and I want to spend that time with people who deserved more than I gave them. I want to tell Rocco that I made it. I want to talk to my uncle Rob and my cousin Chelsea more. I want my Nonna to read my book.

I want another chance at all the opportunities I’ve missed: because I was too slow, because I was too lazy, because I was too afraid. I should have written twice as many books, and I should have sent ten times as many query letters; maybe if I had, I wouldn’t be writing this: because I wouldn’t be teaching any more. I want the opportunity not to do this any more, and if I’ve had it and missed it, I want it back again.

I want it all back again. That’s what I want to say.

But as I was thinking about this, I realized: those things I wasted were only wasted for me — and not always that. Every opportunity that I missed, gave someone else their chance, or gave me something that I wanted even more. Every dollar that I wasted taught me something, or gave me a laugh, or a story to tell: and those laughs and lessons and stories were worth more than the dollars they cost.

Well. Maybe not the cigarettes. That really was a lot of money. A pack a day for almost 17 years, and the average price of those packs was at least $4.00. It’s about $25,000. I don’t have any stories worth that.

But maybe I do: and maybe I have missed opportunities to write them, or to publish them; but every time an agent said no to me, that agent looked at the next query, and liked it more: and someone else got their dreams to come true. If the agent picked my book, then they would have had one less space to take on someone else; the opportunity only missed me. And my turn will come. In the meantime, I’ve become someone I am proud of. I don’t know if that would have happened if I had gone straight into professional writing; a lot of literary people are not people I want to be. Or if I had stayed a janitor, a job I could do in my sleep; maybe that would have been easier, but I was never proud of how well I scraped gum off the bottom of the seats.

Okay. I was a little proud of that.

Time is never wasted, because no matter what, you keep moving forward: and sometimes the path, even when it’s rocky and difficult, leads places you don’t expect. When I was a teenager, I hated high school. Partly because my father moved to California when I was in 8th grade, and without him around, I lacked structure and discipline,  and my native laziness and idiocy took over. But mainly, I felt like high school wasn’t for me, wasn’t good for me; it didn’t teach me anything I wanted or needed to know. So I never put any effort into it, and I got back pretty much the same nothing. A few teachers mattered, a few classes; a few friends. Not a whole lot. For the most part I was a failure at high school.

But because my father moved to California, that’s where I went to go to college. And because I was a failure, I went to a community college, because I couldn’t get into the university I wanted to attend, with my nothing grades.

And that’s where I met my wife.

If I had been a success in high school, I never would have met her. And that would be the biggest loss of them all. She also helped me become and stay a teacher, where I got the second advantage of my failure: being a teenaged idiot made me a better teacher, because I understand my teenaged idiots better than most of their teachers do, because their other teachers were not idiots.

If I hadn’t wasted time reading bad books, watching bad TV, and playing bad video games, I wouldn’t have the sense of humor I have now, nor the ability to draw something useful from almost any pile of crud you put in front of me. I can do things that matter to me more efficiently now because I’ve wasted so much time in the past. (I wrote this in about 45 minutes.)

The money I’ve wasted, which has gone to make good stories and funny experiences, for the most part, has paid for other people to do things that might have been great. Not many, because I’ve never had much money to waste; but every little bit helps, and it hasn’t hurt me very much. Except for the cigarettes. That one still hurts.

So you know what I want? I don’t want that money back: I spent it, and even if I didn’t get my money’s worth, somebody else did. I don’t want that time back: regretting the choices I’ve made would mean regretting all the wonderful things that I have now because I’ve taken the particular path that led me here. I don’t want those opportunities back: I want to make new ones, better ones, and while I still want to be better about seizing those opportunities, I know that every one I let slip by makes me stronger and faster and better at grabbing the next one: and there’s always another opportunity.

No, what I want is this: I want to take back all the terrible things I have thought and said about myself, all the times I called myself lazy, or a coward, or a failure. I want to see myself as positively and as optimistically and as admiringly as I see almost everyone else: because humans amaze me, yet somehow, I’ve always thought that I came up short of the mark. I don’t. I surpass all expectations. At least some of the time.

I want to be proud of myself for who I am, and never regret the things that made me, me.

Even the cigarettes.