Good God, is this grim death march of a presidential primary season OVER yet??? The waste, futility and escalating irritations of American democracy are starting to make the world wonder if absolute monarchy was really such a bad idea after all.
But no, it’s not over! As of this writing, we’re still 2.5 months away from the national conventions, and we still have more than SIX MONTHS left until Election Day in November!
Here are a few things we won’t miss when this interminable, internationally humiliating slog of a primary finally grinds to an unsatisfying halt:
1. Donald Trump OR Ted Cruz. Holy shit—do you realize that we’re about to be done with either Donald Trump or (more likely) Ted Cruz ? Soon we won’t have to see (one of) their stupid faces in the news all the time! Of course, the downside is, whichever one of them is the Republican nominee is going to be that much dangerously closer to having his hands on the nuclear launch codes. But still! No more Cruz/Trump! (Until four years from now, when Cruz or Trump probably runs for president AGAIN. Because that’s the way to get ahead in the Republican Party—keep losing at running for the nomination until the party gets worn down by your sheer persistence and gives you a chance to lose in the general election.)
2. All the never-ending debates. Remember when the Republican Party had like 17 different candidates running, and there were so many delusional no-hopers in the race (like Bobby Jindal) polling at 0.5% that they had to cram half of them into a separate televised-at-5 p.m. “undercard”/kids’ table debate that preceded the “real” prime time debate, which also was full of delusional no-hopers like Jeb Bush? That was amazing. I’m actually kind of impressed that the Republican Party has managed to produce THIS MANY candidates for national office who are either 1. Unqualified, 2. Self-deluding, 3. Dangerous to democracy, 4. Totally clueless, 5. Totally disconnected from reality, or 6. All of the above!
3. Robocalls. I live in Iowa, home to the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, so like everyone else in Iowa, my land line was ringing off the hook for MONTHS with sleazy, disingenuous robocalls from push pollsters and political operatives and shady organizations representing candidates for both parties. To hell with these people for interrupting my day and wasting my time with their phone spam. And yes, I know: It’s 2016 and I still have a land line. We use it so our kids can talk on the phone with their grandparents more easily, and also because our cell phones don’t get great reception in some rooms of our house, and also because I’m an unfashionable middle-aged Midwestern dad. I’m not like you hip Millennials, with your Snapchatty, Internetting ways!
hitches up Dad Jeans
makes contribution to Roth IRA
eats oat bran
4. The Republicans’ Impotent Efforts to to “Stop Trump.” The Republican Party is incompetent as hell. I’m tired of these hilariously desperate, bumbling attempts to stop Trump when they can’t even stop him at the ballot box. Kasich and Cruz joining forces to stop Trump is like treatable gonorrhea-of-the-throat joining forces with penicillin-resistant chlamydia to stop inoperable penis cancer. At this point, the GOP needs to do the dignified thing and just admit defeat. Go ahead and let Trump be the nominee. Let Trump lose in a landslide in November and burn your party to the ground. This is what you deserve, Republicans. Come take your whoopin’.
5. Ted Cruz saying incredibly bizarre things. While campaigning in Indiana in the very same gym where iconic, inspirational sports movie Hoosiers was filmed, Ted Cruz referred to a basketball hoop as a “basketball ring.” Even if Ted Cruz was not a rat-faced right-wing Christian/College Republican supervillain wearing clothes that he pilfered from corpses in funeral home caskets – even if Ted Cruz was the second coming of Bobby Kennedy – he still would deserve to lose the election just for this unforgivable gaffe.
Who calls a basketball hoop a “ring?” Was Ted Cruz born on another planet? Has Ted Cruz ever watched sports or played sports or had a conversation that wasn’t about cutting taxes on dividends or eliminating funding for food stamps? I love it when badly out of touch, expensively educated, hyper-ambitious political careerists like Ted Cruz try to slum it with everyday regular folks. (“Hey there, working class whites! Let’s have a domestic draft beer and discuss the latest basket-ball contest! I’ll bet those ‘Indiana Hosers’ are going to ‘dink’ the ball through the ‘ring’ very much!”)
Ted Cruz is a Man of the People: the People of Planet Zebulorg 45.
6. Ted Cruz doing incredibly bizarre things. Ted Cruz recently named Carly Fiorina as his VP pick, even though he hasn’t actually won the nomination. This is wrong for so many reasons:
A. You’re not supposed to name a VP until AFTER winning the nomination!
B. Ted Cruz is nowhere near winning the nomination. The latest delegate totals look like Trump might actually win the nomination on the first ballot.
C. Even if Ted Cruz was already the nominee, which he is most definitely NOT, Carly Fiorina is a bizarrely terrible pick for running mate! What, she’s going to help Cruz carry the 0.3% of the Republican vote that Fiorina won in Iowa and New Hampshire? (Did she even stay in the race through New Hampshire? I’m too lazy to look it up right now.)
Ted Cruz naming Carly Fiorina as his VP pick (even though he hasn’t won the nomination) is like a chef telling you that he probably won’t be able to finish cooking your meal, but for dessert, you get to eat a handful of wet gravel.
7. Arcane primary rules. My God, the primaries are a mess. Every state has its own rules, some states use caucuses and some use primary elections, some states assign delegates based on “winner takes all,” some states assign delegates proportionally based on the percentage of the vote, and it’s all an insanely complicated ordeal that is hard to explain without having a degree in political science. But in a way, this whole system is an improvement. The party primary process is not perfectly democratic, but it’s better than the old days when party bosses chose nominees in smoke-filled rooms and when everyday people didn’t even get a chance to vote on the parties’ nominees. The party primary process is a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess.
8. Democrats at each other’s throats re: Bernie and Hillary. I’ve seen lots of people damaging real-life friendships because of disagreements about Hillary and Bernie. Can’t we have a single Democratic primary election that doesn’t turn into a hateful circular firing squad? Could everyone in the Democratic Party just chill, please?
We’ve held the White House for the past 8 years. We’ve been spoiled by eight years of a really cool, fun president that almost everyone in our party really liked and felt personally connected with. Let’s not throw this all away just because the next Democratic nominee is not going to be a universally beloved, once-in-a-generation, transcendent political talent. Sure, not everyone’s happy with Hillary, and lots of Bernie Bros are insufferable, but let’s keep our eyes on the prize, here.
Do you have any idea how rare it is for the Democrats to not only WIN the White House, but HOLD ON to the White House for 8 years? (Bill Clinton did it, but he got impeached for having sex with an intern. And yes, the impeachment was a witch hunt being run by a bunch of hypocritical Republican philanderers and child molester Dennis Hastert, but still; Bill put himself in a ridiculous situation that played right into his enemies’ hands.) Other than him, Barack Obama is the first Democratic president to win and serve two terms in the White House since FDR.
My point is: Democrats shouldn’t get too cutesy here. I know there are progressives within the Democratic Party who are disappointed in/distrusting of Hillary for some of her policy stances and corporate connections and personal loyalties, but do you really think President Hillary would be equally as bad as President Trump? Because—and goddamn the Republicans for putting us in this position—that’s the choice we’re about to have to make. I have to raise children in this country; I can’t take the chance of casting a protest vote that might result in President Trump. I don’t have the luxury of that level of ideological purity. When one of our major parties is so completely dysfunctional and irresponsible as to allow a man like Trump to be their nominee, the nation’s grown-ups have to step in and do damage control, even if it’s not as fun or aspirational or inspiring as we would like.
Remember in 2000 when lots of clever liberals voted for Ralph Nader instead of Al Gore, and then George W. Bush barely eked his way into the White House and ruined everything for 8 years? Do you really want to take that chance again? Except it would be worse this time, because Trump is even more of an unpredictable, unhinged, authoritarian narcissist who’s running an openly racist campaign. Do you really think that making things worse in the short run – with all of the real human suffering that this entails – is going to make anything better in the long run? Do you really think that after 4 or 8 years of the psychotic mayhem of a Trump administration, working class whites are going to suddenly learn their lesson and run back into the Democratic fold? Republican voters have been willfully oblivious to simple facts and obvious reality for decades—so why would President Trump change that? Do you really think the way to motivate America’s downtrodden poor non-voters to vote is to give them an even bigger punch in the mouth?
Even with all the people being crushed by student loan debt and medical bills and stagnant incomes, America in 2016 does not seem poised for a watershed moment of liberal ascendance—in large part because, as Bernie Sanders said, “Poor people don’t vote.” Even with all of the massive inequality and systemic injustices that are rampant in 2016 America, it doesn’t seem like there’s a silent majority that wants Western European-style social democracy— that’s just not the reality of the country that we’re living in. “Political revolution” feels like too much of a stretch for most Americans who are more worried about keeping their jobs and paying their bills. Lots of people in America are complacent or despondent about politics right now, and these conditions are ideal for giving rise to demagogues like Trump.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I caucused for Bernie Sanders, but I’m the least-passionate Bernie Sanders supporter in America. I supported him not because I thought he would win, but because I agreed with more of his policy stances and I wanted to send a strong, symbolic, strategic message (as is the right of every primary voter) to move the party in a more progressive direction. I have friends who work for the Sanders campaign AND I have friends who work for the Clinton campaign, and I like and respect and trust the judgment of all of them. So let’s not get bogged down in what are—in the grand scheme and high stakes of U.S. presidential politics—rather minor differences.
To Sanders supporters: let’s give the Republicans a landslide defeat in November. Let’s win the White House for another 4 years of Democratic control, take back the Senate, and make gains in the House. And then: organize! Politics is a long game, so keep playing! Just because America wasn’t quite ready for more significant progressive change in 2016 doesn’t mean it won’t be ready in 2020 or 2024. Demographics are on the side of the progressives. The country is getting more diverse, Millennials are the most liberal generation in recent history, and Trump voters are dying of preventable illnesses, ATV accidents and alligator attacks. Let’s stop tearing each other down and save our most full-throated disgust and hatred for Donald Trump.
Because that’s the worst thing about this primary—it’s probably going to result in Donald Trump being the Republican nominee for president of the United States. We’re all going to be subjected to six more months of Trump in the national media spotlight before he finally suffers his Election Day defeat and goes off to whiny, self-pitying political oblivion. As bad as this primary has been, the general election is going to make us nostalgic for the days of Ted Cruz and his “basketball ring.” This primary election is like having sex with Donald Trump: it’s really horrible while it’s happening, but then right as it’s ending, you realize that it somehow just got worse.