early, but wading in

07 May

The first primaries are ten months away. There are, as I write this, TWENTY-TWO contenders currently declared as running for the Democratic party nomination for 2020, with, seemingly, more jumping in every day. Debates start at the end of June, and there are so many qualified folks that the first one has to be carried over two consecutive nights so that everybody fits on the stage. It’s very early in the process, and information is still gushing in as if from a fire hose.

Nonetheless, my congressperson endorsed Joe Biden last night, already.

I’m still kind of processing how I feel about this development. See, I generally like my Congressman, Don McEachin; he’s generally in the right place on the issues I care about (i.e., he hits the right progressive buttons, particularly on the environment), and he’s actively engaged in his home district, always holding local events and is very accessible and responsive with constituents.

That said, I’m not sure about the endorsement this early, especially for current establishment/moderate darling, VP Joe Biden. At this point, I haven’t honed in on a candidate yet, though Biden isn’t really the direction my search is taking me.

It’s tough, too, because I really like Joe Biden personally. He’s gregarious and personable in the way so many people from the part of the world he and I came from (Northeastern Pennsylvania) are, and he reminds me of a lot of people I knew from that part of my youth. That said, as much as I liked those people, I liked them in that “loveble slightly inappropriate sorta-drunk uncle at the Fourth of July picnic” sort of way, which, while weirdly endearing, even in a meme-worthy Vice President, is not necessarily what sort of personality we need in a chief executive in today’s America. Besides being somewhat troublesome in terms of his interactions with women (although I think that’s mostly overblown, given my experience with people like him, although certainly still inappropriate; and indications are he’s at least trying to improve there), gaffe-making, and his ties to the big banking industry, He’s a product of the 20th century, and while the past isn’t necessarily a bad place, going backward, even in a sort of left-leaning way, isn’t where I think we necessarily are anymore, even if it means missing out on some of his great experience and foreign policy chops.

Part of it is, I know, a generational thing; as a middling Gen-Xer, I’m used to getting passed over – the Boomers won’t move out of the way, and the Millennials are coming up hard behind; there just aren’t enough of us to make a huge impact (although we’re doing a great job, I must say, keeping the lights on without excessive drama while the cohorts on either side of us make their noise). Obama (technically Generation Jones) is, it seems, the closest we’re likely to get to having one of our own in the White House, as the new big stars are all, admirable as they are, of the Millenial generation. It’s not unexpected, but still sort of frustrating to this Xer.

There are, however, several folks in the race that aren’t entirely of the “old boomer white guy” milieu, and, in part because of the frustrations in the previous paragraph, are the ones who are grabbing most of my attention:

You’ve got folks like Kirsten Gillenbrand, Beto O’Rourke, Julián Castro, and Kamala Harris who slot in with my generational cohort, and, for the most part, aren’t lily white and male (well, Beto is, but he’s a bass player, so I give him a pass). Even if they aren’t as progressive as I’d like (most of them), the fact that they shared broad common foundational experiences with me says something: that they might approach problems in the kind of ways that make sense for people like me; and, as people of post-Boomer generations tend toward less selfishness and “F you, I got mine” thinking, their approaches are more likely to benefit a broad swath of the population and take all those different demographics’ needs into consideration.

Outside that, you’ve got folks on either generational end, like Elizabeth Warren, who amazingly wonky in a swoon-worthy way, publishing position papers on all kinds of issues; she’s immensely qualified and is really setting the tone – even if she doesn’t win the nomination, her detailed policies are going to end up in the party platform. Then there’s “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, the charismatic mayor of South Bend Indiana who’s under 40, but speaks to a lot of concerns of the younger (and maybe less younger) folks, and as an openly gay man (which is causing surprisingly little concern among, well, anybody), is a big deal for many. Hell, even Bernie Sanders, who I’m less high on than a lot of folks out there, brings new and interesting ideas to the table, and even though he’s the oldest guy running at 77, inspires many with his unique anti-establishment energy.

As I said, I’m not sure how I feel about Congressman McEachin’s early endorsement of VP Biden; his reasoning is that Biden is “the one that can beat Trump”, which is the primary motivator for almost everyone (and also inspires at least a dozen different answers to the question of who that “One” is). Should Biden be the nominee, I’ll happily vote for him; he’s a solid pick with great experience, and will likely do a great job, even if, in my opinion, would likely pump the brakes on some necessary reforms and changes many of us would like to see in the name of maintaining “third way centrism that dominated the 90s; it’d be infinitely better than the current situation.

As to where I am right now, my current ideal would be the tenacity, energy, and attitude of Senator Harris, advocating for many of Senator Warren’s policies; that just hits my sweet spot. That said, there are a lot of ways to get there at this point; I like Buttigieg’s optimism and O’Rourke’s attitude. Senator Cory Booker managed to woo the lovely, talented and politically engaged Rosario Dawson (who campaigned for Sanders in 2016), which has to count for something in terms of what he’d bring to the table, even if he’s not currently setting the polls on fire.

So yeah; it’s early. We’ll have innumerable debates in the next ten months before a single primary vote is cast and the pack starts to narrow; I’m really looking forward to seeing what the results of those debates are before really settling in on “my” candidate; it just feels too early to bet it all on a horse, especially one so potentially troublesome.

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