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The Problem with Pete

There are a lot of attacks coming in on Pete Buttigieg on Left Twitter lately, and it makes sense. He’s polling very well in the (very white) states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Pete started out the race running more as a progressive, but over the course of the primary season, it’s become clear that he can’t compete with Warren or Bernie in that lane, and it’s also become clear that Biden is not an unstoppable force as a moderate. So Pete changed his approach and is now trying to appeal to moderate Democrats. We can argue all day about why the moderate Democrat approach is nonsensical and we need progressive solutions, but that’s not this article. You can point out that Pete seems phony or that his arguments are in bad faith (like saying we can’t support free college because then rich kids might want free college, which A) the Ivy League ain’t free and that’s where they’re going; and B) we support all kinds of public works that the wealthy can use and no one complains), but again, that’s not this article. Pete is trying to win votes in a primary election and is strategizing to get them.

The problem with Pete is that he’s a poor candidate for a general election. Pete is the guy if you think that all it takes to win the general election is a few hundred thousand white voters who have soured on Trump but would switch back to a Democrat as long as they don’t do anything radical like suggesting the USA should join the rest of the developed world and give its citizens healthcare. However, there are two massive issues here.

The first is that Pete polls terribly with black voters. He’s struggling with the black electorate, and that electorate is essential. Pundits worship at the altar of the white working class male, and I’m not saying those votes are unimportant, but those are the reach votes. The votes you have to get first are black people. They are the Democratic base and they will win you an election (just ask Doug Jones). We can talk all day about suburban women and college-educated whites and so forth, but if you don’t get black people to turn out for you, you’re toast, and Pete is doing horribly with black people.

The second issue is experience. Even if Pete can somehow get to the White House, he has no experience with the federal government. It will either be a crash course on the job or the donor class will just tell him which levers to pull. Is a donor-controlled Pete better than Trump? Sure. An overflowing toilet is better than Trump. But Pete doesn’t appear to have enough experience or an agenda. The reason there’s backlash against him right now is that he seems an empty vessel for the donor class who would still very much like their tax breaks and little regulation, but would prefer it if the President wasn’t a loudmouthed idiot.

But again, I don’t think Pete will even make it that far even if he can pull out a win in the primary. I think Pete supporters seem him as another Obama–an inspiring outsider who connects with middle-America–but he’s not that guy and even if he was, it’s not 2008 anymore. Our country is facing serious crises and needs big solutions. There’s a part of the country that doesn’t see those issues because it doesn’t really affect them all too much, so incremental change is fine. But that kind of approach is inspiring to no one, and the black community already appears wise to Pete’s act. Pete may think that if he can run the table in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, let Biden take South Carolina, and then beat him in a longer primary. It’s a strategy. But it’s a strategy that won’t beat Trump and if Buttigieg or Biden win the primary, I expect our national nightmare will continue for another four years.

Saturday, November 30th, 2019 Uncategorized No Comments

Sandy Hook

When I wrote about the Aurora shooting, I noted how that gun violence continues to happen whether we note it as massacres or ignore the single or double-homicides as if those crimes aren’t worthy of putting a spotlight on our atrocious, borderline non-existent policy on gun control.  Gun violence wasn’t going anywhere, and there certainly wasn’t going to be any legislation.  Sure, a bunch of people died because they had the audacity to see a blockbuster movie at a midnight screening, but what could we do?  It was an election year, and the gun lobby is bulletproof.

Now the murders in Newtown have happened, I just feel sick and outraged.  With Aurora, I was shocked, saddened, but now wholly surprised.  These kinds of massacres went into high schools, college campuses, places of worship, and all kinds of locations where we should feel safe.  But we didn’t want to imagine where the next horrific massacre would strike.  We all knew it would.  We knew it wouldn’t be too long to wait.  We just didn’t know where.

There were other massacres after Aurora, but Newtown is unforgettable.  And yet I feel outrage that we will forget.  It will blow over like every other massacre.  We’re already going through the motions:

– Confusion over the death toll

– Focus on the killer’s background

– Names of the victims

– Tales of heroism

– Stories of the victims

– Wait until the next horrific massacre.

In between, we have a “conversation” about gun control.  In the 21st century, we take to our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds to share a link or a 140-character comment, and then move on with our day.  We’ll also be sure to note how our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones, as if that means a fucking thing to the victims and their loved ones.  Every parent who lost their child will forever be broken.  That scar will never heal.  Prayers and thoughts won’t provide any measure of solace.

There are no words for this, and yet I have to write and share my outrage because I just want to scream about how sick this makes me.  About how I can’t stand this anymore.  About what’s even more horrific about the massacre is how we allow it to happen again and again and again and again and again.  It’s an unnatural disaster that we continue to accept.

Of  course, who can take on the NRA?  We all should because they support the murder of children.  Guns aren’t a right, and even if they were, there’s no right worth having that allows someone to freely purchase weapons capable of mass murder and kill children.  The NRA, an association that could just as easily support gun control as it does gun “freedom”, supports the murder of children.  When they say nothing and when they do nothing, they say that it’s more important that people own guns than making sure that a madman can’t get a gun and murder children.

The NRA supports the murder of children.  It is that simple.  And in our silence, in our complacency, and in our fatigue, we share that responsibility.

I don’t know the exact answer to this problem.  I’ve also heard cries that we need to do a better job of identifying and treating mental illness, and while I agree, we can’t legislate mental illness.  We can legislate the tools that turn mental illness into a destructive force.  But we don’t.  We go through the motions.

Barack Obama has the chance to break the cycle.  To say that this is the last straw.  That maybe we shouldn’t wait until another madmen goes into a fucking nursery and creates another incomprehensible horror.  But I don’t know if that’s in him.  It’s likely no other President in history has been so aware of  a possible assassination attempt.  We are all incredibly blessed that such an attempt on his life hasn’t been made despite the vitriol and hatred that has come from his opponents.  But it’s scary to go after the guys with the guns, because they don’t keep the guns for decoration.  When they say that they’ll have to pry the gun from their cold, dead hands, it’s because they’ll be cold and dead after dying in a shootout.  Someone with a gun-fetish only sees the resolution ending a bloodbath rather than reasonable compromise.

Again, I don’t have any answers but looking at the situation only makes me sad and sick and angry, and this post was the only way to maybe lessen that distress because I can’t listen to anyone else talk about “hopes and prayers” or recite the same statistics anymore.  And I’m scared not only of the next massacre.  I’m scared of how quickly we’ll forget this one.

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments
 

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