Checking In

After a weekend in Paris, Lisa & I are currently back in London.  One more week in the UK and then it’s back to the United States.

I’ve made it a point not to regularly check for any news about the 2020 Presidential election.  To do so would defeat the purpose of being on vacation.  So, it wasn’t until about an hour ago that I learned that, on Saturday, Joe Biden finally won his first presidential primary when he swept the contest in South Carolina.

I don’t even like Joe Biden but I’m breathing a sigh of relief.  Though there’s still a long way to go, this victory at least suggests that a Sanders nomination is not inevitable.  It also signals that the crazies have not totally taken over the Democratic Party.

As I’ve made clear here, I don’t consider myself to be a Democrat.  For that matter, I haven’t considered myself to be a Republican since 2016.  I think Joe Biden is a moron but the fact of the matter is that the Democrats have a good chance of winning in 2020 and, even if Trump wins reelection, we will still eventually have another Democrat president within my lifetime.  As much as I dislike Biden, I’d rather have an idiot in the White House than someone who, at the age of 79, is still making excuses for Castro and the Soviet Union.  Even if Sanders is nominated and loses, just winning the nomination will normalize an authoritarian outlook that shouldn’t be normalized.

I guess the next big contest is Super Tuesday.  We’ll see if Biden can keep his momentum going or if South Carolina was just a momentary hiccup in Sanders’s march to the nomination.

I also read that Tom Steyer withdrew from the race.  He spent millions and didn’t win a single delegate.  For all the talk about how democracy is for sell, it seems like those who blatantly try to buy it always end up failing.

Ross Perot Is Gone But His Legacy Lives On

Ross Perot, who ran for President in 1992 and 1996, has died at the age of 89.

My father voted for Ross Perot twice.  I was too young to really pay attention to the election of 1992 but, by the time 1996 had rolled around, I had started to get into following politics and elections.  I can still remember watching Ross Perot accepting the first Reform Party nomination while former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm and Ed Zschau (the Congressman who would have Lamm’s pick for his running mate if Lamm had won the Reform nomination) stood in the background and tried to figure out what had just happened.

Perot was one of the first presidential candidates to campaign on the idea that he was so rich that he wouldn’t be beholden to special interests and his success undoubtedly led to many other nontraditional candidates looking at the presidential race and thinking, “Why not me?”  Perot was big into fiscal responsibility and he didn’t have any of Donald Trump’s personal baggage but it’s still easy to draw a line from the national anger that propelled Perot’s 1992 campaign to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016.  Perot and Trump’s voters both felt they were being screwed by the system and that Washington D.C. had no interest in the lives of regular Americans.

(Donald Trump’s first official foray into elective politics was when he briefly ran for the Reform Party presidential nomination in 2000.)

On the same day that Perot died, billionaire Tom Steyer announced that he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Steyer may not have wide name recognition or a base of support.  He may be entering the crowded race late and he’s already missed the first debate and it’s doubtful he’ll be invited to the second.  But what Steyer does have is two very important things:  a belief that, despite having no political experience, he can do a better job than the people who do and  a personal fortune to spend on his campaign.  Ross Perot may be gone but the legacy of his campaign lives on.

Eric Swalwell Is Out

Eric Swalwell, braving the New York winter to get a cup of coffee at a location not owned by the Trump family

If you had money on Eric Swalwell being the first Democratic presidential candidate to withdraw from the race …. well, you lost.  That honor actually goes to former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, who announced for President in November of 2018 and then dropped out in January, long before Swalwell even announced he was running.

(If you’re asking, “Who is Richard Ojeda?,” you’ve pinpointed the reason why his presidential campaign only lasted a month and a half.)

Eric Swalwell is, however, the first candidate to drop out after the first round of Democratic debates.  Ironically, Swalwell didn’t do that badly at the debates.  Though he was overshadowed by Kamala Harris, he was the first candidate to suggest that it was time for Joe Biden to pass the torch to a younger generation.  Swalwell may not have set the stage on fire but he still did considerably better than Beto O’Rourke or Michael Bennet.

As a candidate, Swalwell focused on youth and guns.  That approach previously helped him build up a following online but it never made much of a dent in the polls.  Swalwell was best known for claiming that the Democrats were the Avengers and the Republicans were the Hunger Games, which always led me to speculate that he hadn’t seen either film.  On the right, Swalwell was notorious for telling a pro-2A activist on twitter that a civil war over gun control would be short because the government has nukes.  While Swalwell was obviously trying to make a joke, bragging about being able to use nuclear weapons is never a good way to win a debate with someone who claims that the government can’t be trusted.

Swalwell’s withdrawal is not a surprise.  After the first debate, he said that if he didn’t start to poll higher than 0% in the polls, he would probably have to drop out and run for reelection to the House.  Since Swalwell’s district is in California, he’ll probably have his seat for a while to come.

Swalwell was first elected to the U.S. House in 2012.  Interestingly enough, he was elected over another Democrat, 20-term incumbent Pete Stark.  (Because of California’s jungle primary, the top two vote getters in the primary move on to the general election, regardless of party.)  At the time, Stark accuses Swalwell of being a member of the “Tea Party,” which is even more humorous when you consider the efforts to which Swalwell went to shore up his woke credentials during his presidential campaign.  It is true, though, that many Republicans were happy to see Swalwell defeat Stark, who had a reputation for being one of the biggest pricks in Congress.  (Stark famously called one female colleague “a whore” and referred to a Jewish congressman as being “Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel army.”)

Swalwell leaving the presidential race brings the number of “major” Democratic candidates down to 24 but rumor has it that billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer will be announcing his candidacy tomorrow.