Random thoughts about the course of this election

Just what I think, nothing more.

  • It’s alright to detest any of the candidates — Bloomberg was a rich goblin, go ahead and say so. I like Warren, but if you don’t, I’m not going to try and change your opinion. Fire away with your dissent.
  • All of the candidates, current and past, are deeply flawed. If you’re trying to argue that your favored candidate is a saint who will make every segment of the electorate happy and win in a landslide, you are delusional. Own their shortcomings, work to reduce them, preferably by getting the candidate himself to admit to them.
  • We’re not going to get a revolution in January, even if your preferred candidate gets into office. Face the facts: this is going to take a long struggle over decades. Longer with Biden than Sanders, I think, but Biden is the cautious choice that a surprising (to me) lot of people favor.
  • One of the reasons it’s going to take a long time is that changing figureheads doesn’t change the direction of the ship. We’ve got to work on informing the electorate. You’re going to have to win over 330 million people, not just the one at the top. The US has systemic issues that aren’t going to disappear in a single election.
  • To accomplish change, you’ll need to get along with the supporters of the other Democratic candidate, win or lose. There’s a lot of bridge-burning going on. Stop it.
  • That doesn’t mean you stop criticizing the other guy, or your guy. He’s your representative, not your boss. Let them know what needs to change in their approach.
  • Disappointingly, as the field has narrowed, it’s obvious that we’re not going to get a woman or person of color in the oval office. Don’t forget all the other elected positions that we need to fill! Fight to build a coalition that supports your goals, and that reflects the diversity we need.
  • The enemy is Donald Trump and the whole damned Republican party. Fight them with the army you’ve got, not the one you wish you had.


  1. wzrd1 says

    Well, since the figurehead doesn’t matter and obviously, Obama never got anything done, why switch horses in the middle of the race to Make America Grate Again?
    Resistance is futile, God Bless King George!

  2. davidc1 says

    Sorry Doc ,but i think it is too late for America ,when you have a voting public that think’s universal health care
    is communism ,that prayers to the big sky daddy will solve all their problems and that a moron like the snatch snatcher is fit to be POTUS ,don’t know how you are going to come back from that .

    Never mind Britain is going to same way ,MP’s have just voted themselves a pay rise ,and a man living in a tent because of benefit cuts has lost his toes through frost bite .

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’ll vote to keep the lesser of two evils out, but I’m never going to count on democracy to bring us progress again. The average voter is too stupid and greedy to know what is best for them.

    The only way things are going to change for the better is through [REDACTED].

  4. bionichips says

    Very glad to read this. Over and above voter suppression/misinformation one of the fears I have is that evil people are united and the good guys are not. To a large degree I thought this blog epitomized the problems we will have in the coming election – “if I cannot have my candidate at best I will give lukewarm support to the other candidate – or none at all” (remember the Bernie bros who in a pique voted for Trump?

    Let us unite around the winner with enthusiasm remembering that our democracy is at stake in this election – as well as the planet (global climate change, nuclear weapons)

  5. says

    I respectfully suggest that the problem is that too often — not always; Bloomberg’s character flaws deserve direct comment, for example — criticisms are directed in a vicious manner at people and not stupid policies. That’s not productive. It certainly doesn’t make for enthusiastic kumbayas around the campfire in November, after a party has settled on one candidate (Exhibit A: 1976; Ford lost as much because the Reagan supporters, who had lost in the primary, turned their backs as for any other reason).

    So let’s not attack someone for being a neocommie (if we have neoliberals…). Attack the particular neocommunist policies. Attack the presentation of whatever policies there are, specially when they have Titanic-sized holes in them like “who’s REALLY gonna pay for that Wall?” But except when the attack really is on specific bad acts and bad character, don’t hide a policy disagreement inside a personal attack.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’ll vote to keep the lesser of two evils out, but I’m never going to count on democracy to bring us progress again. The average voter is too stupid and greedy to know what is best for them.

    The only way things are really going to change for the better is through [REDACTED].

  7. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    I’ll vote for whatever candidate ends up facing Trump, but I’m less optimistic about there being any progress if it’s Biden. My concern is that his victory would lock is into another 8 years of status quo. Without a strong progressive mandate I don’t see why existing politicians on either side of the aisle would bother changing anything. And then when the progressives are disillusioned that sets us up for Trump v2.

  8. says

    What I’m afraid of is Biden losing to Trump. If Biden is the nominee I’ll vote for him, but if he loses I’ll work to build a third party in 2024.

  9. F.O. says

    When the US gets a cold, the world sneezes.
    Sneezes that we the world got so far:

    Trump said fuck you to the Paris Agreement.
    The prez horse race barely discussed climate but this is FUCKING IMPORTANT
    Trump being elected emboldened the fascists all over the world.
    Real people really died.
    The Kurds got betrayed and are fighting for their lives.
    This is the second experiment (after Chiapas) that shows us that yes, A Different World Is Possible.
    It might be small, and it might not be in your minds, but it is important.
    It exists.
    It is imperfect but it is real.

    Biden will do a lot of normal-US-president horrible shit (he’d at least help the Saudi in Yemen too), but not this high level.

    The DNC gets what it wants as soon as Biden is nominated.
    They are rich, powerful, privileged fucks and as long as Sanders (or Warren?) are out they’re happy.
    They’re not idiots and if they wanted to actually win they wouldn’t been supporting Biden.
    “Not voting for Biden” will not punish them, but WILL punish a lot of real people per the examples above.
    There is no advantage.

    So please do some damage reduction for the rest of the world that doesn’t even get to vote.

  10. says

    McConnell has been stacking the courts so that even if by some miracle M4A passes, it’s going to be squashed by SCOTUS. RBG isn’t likely going to last another four years so if the Hamberdler wins (the electoral college) again, he will get at least one more nomination.

    Too many people seem to be fixated on the presidency when getting control of the senate in this election is equally important, if not more so.

  11. says

    @9 robertbaden
    You and me both bro. Since Tuesday I’ve had a very simple creed. People who love Trump will vote for Trump. People who hate Trump will vote for Biden. People who love Biden barely exist.

    It’s not a formula for success if you ask me. We’ll see in November I guess.

  12. petesh says

    Quick reminder: People on this comment section, just like every other comment section, are not representative of the American voting public. Be very careful about generalizations; not to pick on one, but there really are people who love Biden, you just don’t know them. Trump’s approval is underwater by 10 points. His policies are not popular. He is very beatable. Now, his replacement won’t be that great, it’s true (and would be true were it Warren or Sanders or anyone else). In practice, given congressional and judicial constraints, there will be limits on the possibilities. But we can do a lot better. We have in the past and we will again. Don’t Panic.

  13. ksiondag says

    After some thinking from some of yesterday’s interaction in the nightmare thread, I’m still not going to vote for Biden in the hypothetical wherein he’s in the general.

    This comes down to a few things, but it’s basically a matter of how it feels personally and how much it matters in actuality.

    On one hand, yes, if everyone followed the advice of “vote for the least bad party of the two main parties” then theoretically the Democrats would just win, and then we could focus on fixing stuff (process, leadership, and candidates) from within the DNC. Unfortunately, this isn’t reality. If it were, we could see the truth of the given statement, as well, which would probably inform one’s decision in this primary process.

    We could also, given this principle, focus on fixing the issue of losing House, Senate, and local government control whilst a Democrat is president. Which was one of my hopes that were dashed when Hillary Clinton ended up not winning in 2016. And work towards just fixing the system in general (ranked-choice voting, everyone votes, no lines for polls, etc).

    If Biden doesn’t end up winning, it seems pretty clear to me that we have a cart before the horse problem. We need to clean house in the DNC (or replace it as one of the primary parties) and actually establish it as the obvious-to-everyone least-bad party.

    As for not voting in the general: I live in Washington. Biden is going to win it anyways. If I were in a close state, or even a red state, I’d more heavily consider it. I won’t fault anyone whom Biden has not won their vote for not voting for him though. It is his job as candidate to do that. I will vote downticket.

    In fact, that’s why this sort of thing irks me. The individual can be held accountable, sure, but when populations are “making the wrong choice”, you should be holding the system or the leadership accountable. You also can’t hold the enemy accountable, because they’re the enemy, and won’t do anything about it.

    So, I s’pose my personal time and money past voting will go towards changing the system and/or changing the leadership, wherever I think my efforts will get the most value. So, I guess after Bernie Sanders is out of this election (hopefully that doesn’t happen until he’s president), I will look into what systemic things I could volunteer towards. I have heard interesting things about Voters Not Politicians. Maybe I can explore towards some sort of Washington equivalent (or wherever I end up).

  14. brianevans says

    An election analogy:
    I prefer Coke.
    I still go to places that serve only Pepsi because the other things are good.
    And Pepsi is better than piss.

  15. garnetstar says

    I think that a lot of people see beating Trump as the #1 priority, and that accomplishing that while dragging some unwilling people through a revolution at the same time may not be possible.

    I also think that part of the vote for Biden is the wish for the pace of change to slow, or even stop. After the daily non-stop chaos that is Trump, people start to want slowness, “normality”, and no more change, even if “normality” wasn’t very good, and even if change would benefit them. Warren (I like her too) or Sanders may mean more change.

    OTOH, I read (sorry I can’t find and link it) that some very large percentage of Biden voters (in the last primaries) want Medicare for All. And, if a very large percentage of voters want something, the democrats are not yet just like the republicans, the democrats have to be responsive to their voters. So the widespread popularity of Sanders and Warren as serious candidates and the widespread dissemination of their progressive ideas has helped and is helping. Candidates for all offices who follow cannot but notice that Sanders got a very large percentage of the vote, and can go from there.

    So, progress is happening in the very wide discussion of and growing normalization of progressive ideas, and in the success of Sanders’ last two candidacies where he was seriously close to the nomination.

    It’s after a very bad, but very dull presidency, like George W.’s, that the most voters will be ready for some wild new kind of change. That’s how we got Obama. Not that he was progressive, but he actually was black, a huge change that I don’t think we’ll see again very soon. Next time people are hungry for change, it’ll be for progressive candidates.

    Meanwhile, the democrats have to follow the only path to success that they’ve ever, ever had: unite or die.

  16. says

    The enemy is Donald Trump and the whole damned Republican party. Fight them with the army you’ve got, not the one you wish you had

    I’m still bothered by all of the people who don’t seem to recognize that this is a fight. That even when we win, we actually have to keep fighting.

    I worry that we’re going to win the Senate and then the idiots are going to reenact the filibuster rule, lay off on investigating and prosecuting the Trump organization, delay statehood for PR and DC, because, you know, kumbaya and reaching across the aisle and healing and shit.

  17. rpjohnston says

    @11 Yeah that’s huge. If Trump wins a second term he’ll get nearly the entire SCOTUS and there will be nothing stopping him from going Full Fash and potemkin democracy. There is no chance any progressive movement will get another chance. We will all die. That is an absolute endgame scenario that must be avoided at all costs. If it’s Biden (which I hope to gods it isn’t) we can at least keep a chance in the future.

    @14 The elections are compromised. I don’t know if they’re fully rigged or just tilted, but the bottom line is this: If there’s any chance at all, it will be by overwhelming the polls so hard that rigging the vote for Trump would be impossible. If there’s a 53-48 “real” margin in favor of Biden, they can tilt that slightly Trump and have him “win” without being assuredly caught. If the “real” margin is 65-35, the hack would be too obvious to attempt. Your vote for Biden will add to the overwhelming landslide necessary to overcome the compromised election. Your vote is vital. (Again, though, hoping it isn’t Biden anyway).

  18. canadiansteve says

    Anyone voting in a primary should read this first….

    Canadians are suffering collarteral damage from Trump (as is the rest of the world) so despite the fact I think Biden is terrible, I hope whoever becomes the not Trump candidate wins a landslide. The down ticket races may also be far more important than the POTUS as well…

    I would like to think that if Biden does become the nominee that he will choose a progressive running mate as an olive branch to progressives, but my instincts tell me that will not happen. The VP might become critical considering the age of the potential nominees.
    One thing worth considering is that the DNC corporatists are skewing very old. This might be the last primary election that the DNC corporate establishment can reasonably hope to win as many of their supporters die off. (assuming the next one is in 8 years)

  19. hemidactylus says

    The enemy is Donald Trump and the whole damned Republican party. Fight them with the army you’ve got, not the one you wish you had.

    Holy hell…did PZ just flip a Rumsfeld quote against the GOP? 🤣🤣

    BTW I wonder how many hours elapsed between my heartfelt Warren vote in FL early voting which won’t count yet and her decision to end her campaign. A gut punch but still proud of my choice.

  20. says

    @13 petesh I’m not panicking, I’m resigned to failure. There’s a difference. After seeing Gore Vs Bush, Kerry Vs Bush, and Clinton Vs Trump, I have a hard time being enthusiastic about an establishment candidate. That’s me, personally and mine own opinion, but I guarantee the Trump camp is way more motivated than any Biden camp. Biden means we’re going to rely on the anti-Trump demographic to beat the pro-Trump demographic. Biden doesn’t excite people like Bernie or Warren. That’s a problem.

  21. psychomath says

    It’s kinda funny that there is so much argument and soul searching over what to do with one’s individual vote. Casting your vote is, almost literally, the least you can do. When I hear people struggling with themselves on whether their ethics will allow them to vote for a lesser evil, I just have to question their basic strategy on politics. If you can get one like-minded person to vote who wouldn’t have, you’ve already made your vote less important. If you put in 20 hours volunteering to phone bank for your candidate and get 12 people to vote, you’re really leveraging your effort in a positive way. If you post your convincing argument of while people shouldn’t vote at all, you might influence hundreds or thousands in one direction or another. If you help build an organization to influence voters and politicians you might influence millions.

    What I’m trying to say is that if politics affects you to the degree that you experience despair and fear over it, maybe think about what you can do besides deciding your own vote. Volunteer to phone bank, drive people to the polls, work at your preferred candidate’s campaign office, join the local party and become a precinct captain, join an interest group and help them lobby, run for office yourself, build your own organization. There is so much a person can do to change things for the better, and deciding who to vote for is the tiniest of all the options.

    The kind of changes most of the people here want aren’t going to happen because on one election. It is a long fight. Fight now with the army you have, sure, but also build the army you will need to eventually win.

  22. Stuart Smith says

    “Disappointingly, as the field has narrowed, it’s obvious that we’re not going to get a woman or person of color in the oval office.”

    Bernie has said that his criteria for a VP pick are a young, progressive woman. And he is pretty old…

  23. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Disappointingly, as the field has narrowed, it’s obvious that we’re not going to get a woman or person of color in the oval office.

    This is a problem that did not start with this election. It’s an institutional problem with a party that did not bother to do the necessary recruitment and talent development to have a properly robust selection of candidates. The average age of the Democratic house leadership is 71 for crying out loud, and if it wasn’t for AOC, who was the youngest person ever elected to the House, and the handful of other young people who were elected during the 2018 midterms, Democratic lawmakers would still be over a decade older than their equivalent Republicans on average. Even the election of those exceptional individuals wasn’t enough to bring the average age of the Democrats below the Republicans.

    This is a leadership problem, not an electorate or candidate problem (except where it overlaps with the leadership).

  24. Allison says

    I may be a “Vox in deserto clamantis,” but I want to emphasize that the down-ticke races are at least as important as the presidency. Trump would never have gotten as much evil done if it weren’t for the fact that the Senate, and to some extent the House, were willing to go along with it. (In the case of the Senate, actively abetting it.)

    We are where we are because the radical right-wingers got together a few decades ago and spent many years getting their guys (mostly guys) into office at every level. It doesn’t matter how “progressive” a person we put into the White House if the rest of the government, at every level, is run by bigots and fascists. The encroachment on the right of abortion has happened almost entirely on the state level. The same for LGBT and minority rights. Not to mention gerrymandering, voter suppression, and outright election fraud — all perpetrated by state and local governments.

  25. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    I’d just re-emphasize what Allison said about the down-ballot races. Taking back the Senate is crucial. Controlling state legislators so that we can prevent the sort of ratfucking we saw in 2010 is crucial.

    Keep in mind that the top of the ticket may influence how down-ballot races come out.

  26. KG says

    Pepsi is better than piss. – brianevans@15

    A debatable point! (I’d say the same about coke.)

  27. KG says

    My own random thought about this election: I don’t think many people, here or in the media, yet realise the extent to which this is going to be the “coronavirus election” – unless, contrary to expectation, either the epidemic dies down by itself (some viruses at least spread less easily in warmer weather), or, even more unlikely, the US government proves capable of containing it as it appears the Chinese government may have done. Assuming neither of these unlikely outcomes occurs:
    1) One or more of the main contenders for the Presidency may die of Covid-19. Trump, Biden, Sanders are all over 70, if there is an uncontrolled epidemic in the USA, all three are likely to get it, and the death rate among the 70-80 cohort may be 8% or so, according to figures I’ve seen.
    2) Deaths are likely to exceed 1 million, cases needing intensive care several million. The gaping flaws in the profit-driven American health system will be revealed, and indeed, will increase the number of deaths.
    3) There will be enormous social disruption – including, without a doubt, a lot of scapegoating of vulnerable groups, particularly migrants. (Of course there’s no evidence the virus was brought to the US by migrants, but when did bigots ever need evidence?)
    3) Election events such as rallies, and voting itself, will be seriously affected. My hunch is that the epidemic will make it easier for Trump and his rich backers (in the USA and Russia!) to make use of lies, of vote suppression, and of direct corruption of the electoral process, but his incompetence and that of those around him may change that.
    4) The economic effects are likely to be severe. Trump’s favourite measure, stock prices, has already turned against him, but the share price falls will be followed by less easily reversible changes such as business collapses, particularly in sectors vulnerable to a reduction in travel and tourism (in the UK, the fall in flights has already been the last straw for a troubled airline, FlyBe). But other businesses will be affected by uncertainty, staff absence, etc. The share price falls will in turn lead to investors (including those with future pensions dependent on the stock market) reducing consumption, and people thrown out of work will do the same. If enough people die, property (real estate) prices would presumably fall. The central banks have little room to apply monetary stimulus, and the lingering dogmas of neoliberalism may prevent many governments, including that of the US, borrowing and spending large enough amounts to make a difference. Trump has dishonestly claimed credit for the stock market rises, job creation, etc. – can he avoid blame for the effects of the coronavirus? (The world may even get caught in a deflationary spiral, as businesses cut prices to increase their share of a shrinking market. But that’s a longer-term issue.)
    5) Internationally, fascists and other far-right riff-raff will take advantage of the epidemic to spread hatred against their favoured targets – indeed, they already are. Refugees from war and poverty will be treated even worse than previously. But paradoxically, a pandemic may actually dampen down the wars in the Middle East – armed forces will be as vulnerable to the disruptive effects as commercial businesses, if not more so. I realise events abroad usually have a limited effect on American elections, but – say – the collapse of the EU, which was already under severe strain, could be an exception – it would favour Trump, presumably. The pandemic ought to demonstrate the urgent need for global cooperation against threats to all (cough climate-change cough), but I’d say the chances of that are slim.
    6) Finally, is it at least possible that this event – particularly if China contains the disease and the USA does not – could wake from their slumbers the millions of Americans who maintain the dream that they are rugged, self-reliant individuals, only held back by the trammels of government and the “theft” of taxation? Even if this awakening occurs, of course, it will be no compensation to those who die or are bereaved or bankrupted – but it might reduce the chances of similar disasters in future.

    What all this adds up to in terms of likely results is completely unknowable at this point. One more reason why anyone who thinks they know the outcome is a fool.

  28. KG says

    sigh MIsnumbered the list-items @29 – call the two “3”s 3 and 3a – the latter was originally going to be part of the former.

  29. greg hilliard says

    Akira Mackenzie at #4 said, “The average voter is too stupid and greedy to know what is best for them.”
    All of the candidates have missed this opportunity, as they did in 2016. They need to address the voters’ question, “What’s in it for me?”
    For the Democrats, the answers are multiple: Universal health care, tuition and debt relief, extensive family and child care, expanded voting rights, increased equality, progress against global warming, stronger international alliances, etc., all paid for with higher taxes on the richest.
    For the Republicans, the answer has been retrenchment against most forms of progress. Oh, and the packing of the courts and a big tax cut borrowed against the future.
    The Democrats up and down the ballot need to emphasize that a better life and a better society also can satisfy the voters’ selfish instincts.