Wednesday, March 04, 2020


I should be working on book promo tasks, so of course I'm going to sit here and read Twitter and write about politics instead.

To make me feel better: Go pre-order the next Annorlunda book! Nontraditional, by Nan Kuhlman, is a great collection of linked essays about the winding path life takes. It focuses on the author's students at a community college in small town Ohio, and interweaves stories from the author's own nontraditional career path. I think you'll really enjoy it! It will be out next month (although I think Amazon is shipping early, which is an entirely different post I could write....)

OK, so back to politics.

Needless to say, my disappointment with how this year's primary is going continues. I can't really blame people who swung to Biden. Anyone with any sense is frightened by the possibility of a Trump re-election. It doesn't feel like the moment to dream big, even if you're also going to fight hard. I really thought that was what we should do, to decrease the chance of the next Trump. But I can understand why others might have decided to focus on just beating Trump, and everyone's punditing on how best to do that has favored Biden.

The Bernie folks are yelling that Warren should have gotten out and endorsed him, but I think they are wrong in their assumption that all Warren voters would go to Bernie next. I wouldn't, and the polls I've seen indicate that I have a lot of company.

Petunia (who is 10) has been asking me a lot of questions about the election and she wanted to know why Biden is my second choice. I told her that I thought he'd be the next best president if we couldn't have Warren. But the real reason that felt too complicated to explain to her is that I think that the success of either a Sanders or Biden presidency is going to come down to the team they hire. And based on how he has run his campaign, I think Sanders would over-prioritize ideological agreement in his hires.

I also think that in this case, the choice of a running mate might be more politically important than usual, and again, I see no evidence Sanders will factor that into his thinking.

So while I don't think a Sanders candidacy is doomed to fail, I tend to think a Biden candidacy has a better chance of success. More importantly, I think that a Biden presidency has a better chance of success. That is why he's my next choice.

I have no idea what Warren will do. I hope she uses whatever leverage she has to get her anti-corruption ideas into the platform. This administration has been a corruption extravaganza. We really need to fight back against that. I am confident that she'll continue to fight to fix things as a Senator, or from whatever post she lands at next.

I think that progressives would be in a better position if Sanders hadn't run, and had instead supported Warren's candidacy. But a sizeable proportion of Sanders supporters are a bit blind to his weaknesses and refuse to understand why someone like me could not get behind his candidacy. There is a cult of personality in that movement that is not healthy. There is also an over-focus on the presidency. It is good that people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are running for and winning Congressional seats, and I hope that movement continues to build strength in down ballot races. That is how they will build power and ultimately change this country, if they are going to do that.

In some ways, I think a Biden nomination may help change this country more than even Biden recognizes. He's running very much on a "go back to how it was" message, but of course there is no going back. We can only go forward, and Trump has put the country in a place where maybe we can start to see some old political truths break down. There was a long Washington Post profile of a white woman in Georgia who feels politically unmoored by the Trump presidency. I really recommend reading it and trying to do so from a place of empathy for women like the one profiled. As Ezra Klein has been discussing (see any number of his podcasts about his new book), our identities have become more "stacked," so changing your politics really will feel like changing a large part of your identity. I can see why that would be hard to do. However, if enough white women in the South do that and stop voting so overwhelmingly for Republicans, there could be a huge change in the political calculus in this country. I don't pretend to know what that change would mean, but it would be a big change.

In general, I think we should stop trying to game out strategic political actions, and just work for the immediate outcomes we think would be best. It is too hard to predict the reactions to any given action. So I'm back to where I started this primary: committed to supporting the eventual nominee and planning to work for down ballot races.


  1. Anonymous9:23 AM

    I could hardly agree more.

  2. such a clear description of how i'm feeling too. LOVE warren. but Biden is going to be better than Sanders.


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