The State of the Democrat Primary, part III
by Todd F. Brook
While in the previous two installments of this series we looked at candidates in the Democratic primary who have a serious, if not slight, chance to actually win the nomination, today we will look at three candidates who have virtually no chance of winning (unless some unforeseeable, drastic event occurs) but are still interesting and worth mentioning for a number of reasons. These candidates are Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang and John Delaney.
Tulsi Gabbard is undoubtedly very popular among readers of this site, but unfortunately this is totally meaningless in the Democratic Primary. In fact the same aspects which make her popular here — e.g. her willingness to go against the Democrat establishment on foreign policy issues, her strange bipartisanship on some issues and refusal to compromise on others, her rather conservative family background — are actually totally inconsistent with the Democrat zeitgeist in 2019. I imagine Gabbard realizes this too, and the simplest interpretation of her campaign would be that she’s running to spread awareness about the U.S.’s foreign policy misdeeds, and the need to reform it as a whole. She’s mostly been successful at doing this, but she hasn’t been able to keep this messaging clear and consistent. While other single-issue candidates, such as Jay Inslee (environmentalism) and Andrew Yang (universal basic income) have made these issues the extreme focus of their campaign — i.e. to the point where they basically refuse to talk about any other issues — Gabbard has made her skepticism of American foreign policy subservient to her holistic worldview, which may be preferable for autistic ideologists like myself, but isn’t really that appealing to the American public as a whole. The unfortunate fact is that most Americans don’t have the IQ to totally question everything the two-party system has been telling them (about foreign policy and other issues) for the past three decades, and are certainly not capable of revamping their system of beliefs in order to support Gabbard. Thus, for Gabbard to move forward, it would make sense for her to start laser-focusing on foreign policy, as her defining issue. She should explain why her foreign policy beliefs are getting such blowback from the DNC, and if she can explain this in a competent, easily digestible way, she may have a chance of moving forward in this primary.
Yang’s candidacy, like Gabbard’s, has attracted a lot of popularity among not just the type of people who read this site, but also generally among edgy zoomers, socialists and other outsiders who are either unsatisfied with or apathetic to the way the country has been run for the past few decades. This is virtually the same group of people attracted to Gabbard’s campaign, and I’m willing to bet that if Yang dropped out of the race tomorrow, almost all of his supporters would gravitate to Gabbard and vice-versa. However, Yang’s key issue in this race is universal basic income — he wants to have the federal government give every American adult $1000 every month. That being said, he’s never polled above 2% in a nationwide poll, probably because this policy is not really popular amongst any segment of the population besides (sorry for using this term) entitled millennials who want free money. Beyond that, there’s a huge attitudinal problem within the core messaging of Yang’s campaign. While Obama ran in 2008 on “hope and change” and Trump ran in 2016 saying “only I can fix it,” Yang’s campaign takes the opposite approach — his message is ultimately very bleak and hopeless (automation will replace us, there’s nothing we can do about opioids, etc.) and he admits that he has no ways to solve this bleakness besides giving everyone $1000 per month to bribe them into not rising up. This may seem trivial, but in the long-run these messaging/branding issues tend to affect voters, the majority of whom, unfortunately, are simple-minded NPCs who will vote for whoever makes them feel powerful when they vote for them. Kamala Harris attracts identity politics nutcases who feel powerful when they’re helping the First Black Woman President™; Elizabeth Warren voters feel powerful when they’re pushing forth the person who most disgusts straight white men; Bernie Sanders supporters feel powerful when they believe that they’re bringing about the historically inevitable transition form Capitalism to Socialism through their preferred candidate, and so on. Yang voters on the other hand, only feel powerful to the extent that their candidate is largely a product of their own (formerly ironic) memes. Unless Yang can find a way to message his candidacy through anything other than “we’re fucked, here’s a thousand bucks,” he will be doomed to obscurity.
Eggman, A.K.A. John Delaney, makes it on to this list because for some reason he’s refusing to drop out of the race after not making it to the third debate. To be honest, I’m not sure what his play is, besides possibly coalescing all the politically moderate donors after a potential — but, as of now, totally unforeseen — collapse in Joe Biden’s polling numbers. Indeed, Delaney has made a name for himself by being the centrist foil for candidates like Sanders and Warren, whomst he attacked for being too far-left and unrealistic in their policy proposals. This strategy has been largely unsuccessful for him in my mind, since it’s mostly resulted in viral clips of Sanders and Warren dunking on him, which is never a good look; however, I’m not the target audience for this — it’s the Democrat donor base. Maybe there is a group rich donors who want a moderate Democrat nominee who won’t go extreme on identity politics and won’t tax them to oblivion while taking away their healthcare — but among the Democrat base, this stuff hasn’t been popular for at least 20 years now. So it’s looking like except for the novelty factor of being the most centrist guy in the race, Delaney isn’t going anywhere. Egg status: Cracked.