I’m not one of the grown-ups in the room

You should all know by now that my wife Mary is the mature adult at my house. While I fled to the movie theatre to watch a tired fantasy about space wizards, Mary stayed home to watch the Democratic debate and all the follow-up news stories — I think she eventually crawled into bed in the early hours of the morning. I don’t know what she thought of the candidates because she’s still unconscious in the other room.

I can guess, though. She’s very dedicated to getting Bernie elected. In fact, I’m beginning to fear the election because I’m inclined more towards Warren, but if Bernie loses there will be much anger and anguish here. If I didn’t do my part by voting for Bernie in the primary, I might get the icy glare of rage and death afterwards.

So while she is recovering from her binge mainlining politics last night, I turned to Amanda Marcotte to find out how the debate went down.

Klobuchar, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts all came across the actual grown-ups in the room. Sanders, as usual, impressed with his moral clarity. Klobuchar is an unapologetic centrist, but presented a strong case for her competence as a leader and ability to pull the levers of power to get things done. Warren, in particular, took advantage of the time to show off her earnest intelligence and in-depth knowledge of both policy and the strategies needed to get those policies passed.

Yeah, that sounds about right. I’d rather not see Klobuchar as the candidate, but she does have a reputation in her home state for being a tenacious fighter who would run a strong campaign. But I don’t want a centrist. Warren wins me over with her brains. Sanders really does have a strong moral vision of what is right and is probably the best anti-Trumper we’ve got.

Buttigieg, Steyer, Yang, and most of all Biden aren’t even in the running for space in my mind. I want them gone. I’d give more credibility to Castro and Booker, and they weren’t even on the stage, which tells you there’s another deep problem with the Democratic machine.


  1. kurt1 says

    Listen to your wife. Bernie is the only one actually building a movement, which is essential to bring about real change and social justice. Warrens policies being “smart” will not get them passed. Obama had “smart” policies, and of the few things that he got past the Republicans, not much of them will be left after 4 years of Trump. There needs to be pressure from the public and Sanders is the only one realizing and acting on that.

  2. says

    Never ever, ever trust someone else to tell you how a debate or verbal confrontation went down. Someone sometime may actually accurately report on what happened but that is so rare as to be nearly non-existent.

  3. michaelumilik says

    As much as we might want Bernie or Elizabeth to pull this off, neither is electable enough to dislodge the orange menace from the white house. Unless the democratic nomination goes to a centrist, brace yourself for another 4 years of this horror show..

  4. laurian says

    Why is Bernie in a Democratic Party debate? While his ideas are good and aspirational HE’S PROUDLY NOT A DEMOCRAT. Yeah, and party membership DOES matter. How do you think we impeached the motherfucker?

    Warren 2020

    @micheal. 66 million Americans beg to differ

  5. Nemo says

    @michaelumilik #3: A lot of people assert that, but they never back it up. Then we see the polls where each of the candidates is lined up vs. Trump, and the results only differ by a few points.

    I’m really, really REALLY tired of being told — for many decades now — that my only choices are between the center and the right; that I don’t get to vote left. That it’s supposedly a “center-right nation”, even though polls show consistent broad support for left policies.

    I fully appreciate the need to defeat Trump, and will do whatever I have to, but first… show me that I have to do what you say I have to.

  6. leovigild says

    Biden is getting more black and Latin support than Booker or Castro. Maybe you shouldn’t just dismiss their opinions?

  7. redwood says

    I like Warren because she’s smart and as the world gets more and more complicated, I’d rather have someone with some brains trying to figure out the best thing to do. She also has a sharp sense of humor, something a prez desperately needs. PZ and I might also be influenced by the fact that she’s a (former) university professor like we are. Like likes like.

  8. Abel Crunk Skunk says

    @laurian There’s only one Independent member of the house that I’m aware of, and he voted “yes” on both articles of impeachment. I don’t know what point you’re making about party membership. He runs as an independent for Vermont senator, but he is running as a Democrat in the presidential race. Unfortunately, the only way to run viably for this office is through one of the two parties. A third party run would be unlikely to succeed and would leave a republican victory all but assured. Sanders running among the democratic party is the best path for him, the democrats, and anybody hoping to unseat Trump in 2020.

  9. vucodlak says

    Picking a centrist is suicide, period.

    Biden is the single weakest candidate against Trump. He’s an abrasive gaffe-machine with serious personal-space issues and a voter-excitement factor in the negative digits. He’s also an old white man whose popularity as a candidate owe more to racism and misogyny than anything else. He will not bring out new voters, which is vital to any candidate hoping to defeat Republican ratfuckery and actually win the election.

    But say, by some miracle, that Biden wins. Then what? He’s made it clear that he believes Trump is an aberration, that the Republicans will ‘come to their senses’ and work with Democrats after Trump is gone. He’ll waste his entire term trying to compromise with outright fascists, moving ever rightward, until he’s replaced by someone even worse than Trump after four years.

    Buttigieg and Klobuchar are straight-up Republicans from the days when Republican wasn’t just another word for “Nazi.” Either has a better chance of winning than Biden, but what will they do if they win? Push for more timid, Republican-lite policies that won’t get passed anyway? They have neither the vision nor a real comprehension of just how dire the threats facing the world and the nation are. They’ll putter along trying to pretend everything is just like it was 40 years ago, and nothing they try to do will last longer than their terms, assuming they accomplish anything at all.

    Radical ideas are what we need. Warren, Castro, and Bernie are our best chance. Not only do they have the best chance of bringing out new voters and thus defeating Trump, they’re also the only ones who seem to truly understand the challenges we’re facing. The path of the centrist will inevitably lead us over the cliff and into civil war. We should vote for the people who are trying to turn away from the cliff, not the people who merely want to ease off the gas a little.

  10. microraptor says

    michaelumilik @3:

    Unless the democratic nomination goes to a centrist, brace yourself for another 4 years of this horror show..

    That’s the biggest load of horse manure I’ve heard since the last time I heard the Orange speaking. In 2016, Trump was thought to be the least-electable presidential candidate ever and Hillary Centrist Clinton was going to utterly trounce him. Then the election actually happened and we saw what happened there.

    We need to ditch the idea that “electability” (which seems to be little more than a measure of how right-leaning a Democrat is) is a useful idea at all and start choosing candidates based on their actual merits.

  11. Howard Brazee says

    When they were talking about how old some of the candidates were, I was reminded of the stereotype that the older you get, the more conservative you are.

    But I don’t notice that around where I live—and I didn’t see that with the candidates.

    I have noticed that the older people are, the more like themselves they become. What I mean here is that they stop trying so hard to be what they (or others) want them to be.

  12. binaryfission55 says

    You should listen to your wife. Warren essentially backtracked on Medicare for All with her silly two-step plan, and her funding model for it is awful. Bernie has the actual movement behind him and the correct theory of change to make it happen. Stop playing around, we have one last chance to elect a decent person before the climate bomb goes off.

    @laurian #4 He’s “not a Democrat” because he’s too good for such a corporate party. Also he’s been caucusing with them for years, if you’re so worried about him not playing ball. Your partisan nonsense is not shared by the general electorate; Bernie’s independence would be an asset in the general, not a hindrance.

  13. kome says

    Hard to see how leftist candidates are the ones who aren’t electable when centrists are the ones always losing to conservative Republicans. You want Trump gone, vote left, end of story. Anything else is just the kind of “white moderate” apologetics style nonsense that Dr. King lamented in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

  14. harryblack says

    I understand the appeal of brains in a candidate who is also fairly progressive but intelligence after a certain cut off is not as relevant as policies.
    Im pretty sure the difference between Warren and Sanders in terms of intelligence is nothing special but the difference in their approaches to foreign policy, military funding, healthcare, workers rights etc actually is.
    A smarter person who doesnt try to help Palestinians is not as useful as a still smart person who does.
    Pick the person who best represents your values and try to shed the bias we get built into us that ‘smarter is always better’.
    If Warren does represent your values more then thats a no brainer of course!

  15. Ragutis says

    Biden doesn’t have a chance. Like him or not, the seeds have been planted for months and months now. Impeachment be damned, the doubt will sprout if he wins the primary. I’m for Warren. IMHO, the smartest candidate we’ve got. Ideologically, I like Bernie, but I just don’t see him having a realistic chance. Klobuchar is too centrist for my taste as well, but she is one smart, tough candidate and could probably take it to Trump. I’ll miss Kamala for those same reasons, and I’d like to see Booker in a couple more debates. A small part of me wants to see Buttigieg elected just to revel in all the pearl-clutching and head-spinning over a gay president, but he hasn’t shown me any substantial reason to consider supporting him and he’s provided a few good ones not to. The billionaires can just fuck right off. There’s a good idea here or there, but just nope.

    Then again, I’d take the woo-woo lady over Trump. Deepak Chopra can be Vice Quantum President.

  16. says

    Sanders did something rather annoying in the debate last night. He was asked a question about the lack of people of color on stage and deflected to talk about global warming. Rather than addressing the lack of representation he decided to talk about how global warming should be the most important issue facing people of color because they will probably feel the worst effects by being too poor to properly adapt. It’s not like he’s wrong, it’s just that when someone implies that as a white man you might not best represent the concerns of people of color, changing the subject to what they really should be concerned about kinda proves the point. I don’t think Sanders has a good response to the question, and his supporters response has always been, “His programs will be the most beneficial to people of color!” So if you’re a person of color, don’t worry about what you think your problems are, old white dude has the real answer.

  17. DanDare says

    I know Americans like obsessing about whos president but what happens about the house and senate? They seem kind of more important. Which presidential campaign is more likely to support and bring along house and senate members?

  18. Ragutis says

    David Klopotoski

    20 December 2019 at 3:32 pm

    So if you’re a person of color, don’t worry about what you think your problems are, old white dude has the real answer.

    DISCLAIMER: I didn’t watch the debate. After all the impeachment stuff, I just needed a break. Besides the Pipeline Masters was on. Watched that, replayed a few heats from earlier, then read awhile and went for a walk to look at the neighborhood lights.

    The candidates already complained to Perez and the DNC. Maybe Bernie didn’t want to address it again. Or maybe he was just trying to show that he understood the issues others have. And, like you said, it’s not that he’s wrong. But unless one can find a way to talk Kamala back into the race or at least get Booker into a few more debates, it looks like people of color are gonna have to settle for old and white answers this election cycle and do what they’ve long done, choose the old, white person that has the best ones for their concerns. There can only be one nominee, only one president. I don’t like how it’s played out much either, but I am happy to have seen as diverse a field as we did.

  19. anat says

    Warren supports doing away with the filibuster, Sanders opposes that. Therefore the universes where Warren is elected and gets some of her plans done are more numerous than those in which Sanders is elected and gets a similar number of his done.

    As for being ‘electable’ – in 2008 the conventional notion was that Hillary Clinton was more electable than Barrack Obama. So?

  20. says

    @#4, laurian

    The main selling point of Bernie Sanders is that he is not a Democrat. Over the last 30 years or so, the Democrats have crapped the bed. They managed to sell out to Republican policies — Reagan’s NAFTA and destruction of welfare, Greenspan’s repeal of Glass-Steagall, GWB’s Iraq war, ICE, PATRIOT Act, tax cuts for millionaires, and much much more — without getting anything worthwhile in return, which demonstrates both a lack of moral and ethical standing and a lack of intelligence. To an awful lot of people, the reasons to vote Democratic have become so esoteric and theoretical that it is no longer even possible to make out a positive case for voting for the party at all — and 2016 demonstrated that “vote for us because we aren’t Trump” isn’t the, uh, trump card that Democratic loyalists expected it to be.

    The party is in the hands of the people who screwed everything up, and everybody knows this, even if loyalists keep trying to insist that no, giving away the store at every opportunity wasn’t screwing up. Sanders is your get out of jail free card. Interestingly, your constant claims that he’s “not a Democrat” actually make him a more effective candidate — the people you favor, like Clinton and Biden, refuse to appeal to their own base (because the turnout is so low, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy) and keep trying to steal Republican voters who hate the Democratic Party so much that this will never ever succeed. Sanders, on the other hand, not only actually excites some of the long-forgotten and despised Democratic base but also actually stands a chance of pulling away some Republicans who are sick of “the establishment” and want something different.

  21. rpjohnston says

    vucodlak #10 is right.

    I want Yang to do as well as he can without winning the nomination, though. Of all of them he is the only one who properly understands that, as we’re in the beginning stages of a post-scarcity economy, centering our economic and moral framework around “work” as the unit of value will inevitably lead to disaster. All the others, even Sanders are Warren, are just building levees, but levees eventually fail.

  22. lochaber says

    I wish we could get some younger candidates… Sanders and Biden are just too damned old.

    Not that I’m saying old people can’t be capable, but just that I feel with people in these age brackets are really pushing up against the statistics for serious medical events, and that’s not even taking into account the stresses of the job. I want the candidates to be young enough that I feel confident they will survive 8 years in a highly stressful position.

    Also, Biden is basically Republican lite, he should run as a Republican and try to primary the current orange asshole president.

    Harris wasn’t quite as left as I like, but I felt she would have excelled in the antagonistic environment and dealt with his petty childish insults better than any other candidate. I was disappointed she didn’t poll as well as I expected, but I’m also glad she recognized that and dropped her campaign. If only certain others would follow suit…

    Buttigieg seemed pretty cool at first, a queer vet nerd who seemed pretty nice, but as time goes on, the “nice” veneer has flaked off, and he’s come across as pretty cut-throat-mean at times, and more and more just seems to be another corporate Democrat.

    I have almost no opinion/knowledge of Klobuchar.

    Even Warren is a bit older than I am comfortable with, but I think she’ll be fine. I like how she has pretty detailed plans, and she has a good history with her senate record. Probably who I’m going to vote for, unless there is a Republican primary challenger – I’m unaffiliated, and can vote in whatever primary, so I’d love to spoil orange asshole if I got a chance (I know, I won’t…), otherwise, I’ll likely throw my vote towards Warren, or possibly Sanders. But pretty much anyone aside from Biden and Buttigieg

  23. brucegee1962 says

    I think Warren would do the best job out of all of them. I disagree with her on a number of proposals, but she’s smart, and I trust her to do the right thing.
    But I doubt I’ll vote for her in the primary. Yeah, polls don’t always tell the full picture and they’ve let us down in the past, but they’re still the best evidence-based way of assessing the mood of the country. So when the primary finally rolls around to my state, I’m going to vote for whichever candidate does the best in polling against Trump in the only six states that matter. If that’s Biden, then so be it. Sure he’s an out-of-touch gaffe machine, but they all have weaknesses that the right smear machine will attack. I just don’t think the country or the world will survive another four years of the Orange one, so that’s the thing to be avoided at all costs.
    As for the “Bernie would have done better than Hillary” crowd: wishful thinking. It’s impossible to know about alternate universes for sure, but none of the available evidence shows that to be true.

  24. Ragutis says


    20 December 2019 at 4:37 pm

    I know Americans like obsessing about whos president but what happens about the house and senate? They seem kind of more important. Which presidential campaign is more likely to support and bring along house and senate members?

    I’m pretty confident that the Dems will hold the House. It’s the Senate that’s really going to matter, otherwise McConnell will just continue to ram judges through and bury any legislation the House Dems present. There’s, I think, 8 or 9 vulnerable Republican seats, so it does look doable. I agree that more attention should be being placed on winning it back than it appears is now. Even were Trump to win re-election, a united Dem Congress would be able to do much to hold him in check, and he might even compromise for fear the next impeachment would result in removal or just in order to make his second term look like something more than a complete impotent failure.

  25. says

    Warren? Brains? After being talked into publishing a genetics test that threw ten years of her career into a rather unpleasant light (plastic indianism) by a bunch of dumbass podcast hosts, I gotta doubt that.