These Candidates Should Just Take the L and Go Home for Thanksgiving

Please stop.

by Matt Taylor
Nov 26 2019, 7:34pm

This isn't your year either. Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker in 2016. Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call

It's almost Thanksgiving, which means millions of Americans are getting ready for nightmarish flights that, with some luck, will allow them to spend time with deeply flawed blood and non-blood relatives alike.

But the coterie of middle-aged and elderly people running to replace the cranky old man currently serving as president of the United States may not get to do any of that. Instead, chances are they will be glad-handing at coffee shops in Ames, Iowa, or taverns in Manchester, New Hampshire. They might be addressing union halls in Las Vegas or house parties in Columbia, South Carolina. They will tell the same tired jokes, recite the same bromides about the national character, and harp on the same milquetoast policy proposals.

The thing is, none of them are going to be president. You know it, I know it, and they know it. And you can bet your ass their spouses and children know it, too. So even if hanging out with strangers at bars in places that aren't your mother-in-law's house is surely an appealing prospect to some of these (mostly male) pols, they need to do the right thing and go home.

Who, exactly, am I talking about? In the grand tradition of a funny and smart blog post on the Cut this summer, I will tell you.

The Second-Tier Billionaire Climate Activist

Well, let's start with Tom Steyer, a billionaire whose quest to translate his long, admirable interest in climate activism to a career as a politician looks more forlorn by the day. Thanks to his personal fortune, he managed to spend enough on ads to get himself past 0 percent in the polls and into the last Democratic debate; it didn't do him any good. Flat, stale, boring—whatever derogatory and vaguely loaded term you want to use for an oldish (if perfectly nice!) man, he was it. And with Mike Bloomberg, the more popular (at least among certain elites) climate-activist billionaire, now in the race, Steyer literally has nothing original to his name. He will not be president, nor come even close to being the Democrats' nominee, and should go hang with the fam.

The Fine Centrist from the Midwest

Then there's Amy Klobuchar, a popular U.S. senator from Minnesota who has long been hyped as a potential first woman president. There's a lot to like about the legislator, but almost nothing to like about her campaign for president. Her policy positions seem to largely amount to "let's pass some stuff that we tried to do during the Obama years but couldn't because Republicans," and also, "let's not be radical or let our desire for structural change make us too wacky." Centrism has its merits among Democrats in relatively moderate states in the Midwest; it is not of remote appeal, sans billions in personal wealth, among rank-and-file Democratic voters. Her story about her ex-boyfriends funding her political ascent is charming, if a bit stale; her current loved ones, male or otherwise, might benefit from her calling it quits.

The Too-Nice Jersey Boy

How about Booker, the progressive U.S. senator from New Jersey who made his name as a dog-saving, snow-shoveling mayor of Newark? He seemed at various points over the last year or two to be primed for a potentially halfway serious run, what with his bold, detailed plan for weed legalization and some standout moments in congressional hearings. But the fact is that a vaguely rhetorically gifted guy who is by disposition unable to engage in any kind of populist broadside—much less convey actual anger at elites like himself—isn't going to get very far. Even Joe Biden can get mad. This guy just gets anxious. Perhaps his parents (or Rosario Dawson's family) might prove soothing.

Generic White Dudes Galore

Dear Steve Bullock, Michael Bennet, and John Delaney: You are really just being jerks with this whole presidential run thing. There's no excuse for this besides possibly meeting new rich people (donors) or just wanting a pretext to binge on takeout at South Carolina soul food spots or whatever. Sure, Delaney managed to use the occasion of some new candidates jumping in the race to release an NYU undergrad art film-style clip of himself jumping up onto a table a bunch of times (and demonstrating the abyss of late-middle-aged masculinity, I guess?). But really, please stop.

Now, you might be thinking, what about all the other also-rans in the Democratic field? It's true: there are plenty more candidates who have no shot at winning. The newest entrant in the race, Bloomberg, for example, could spend a billion dollars and still get nowhere. But no one actually believes this man has loved ones who want to be with him for turkey and gravy, which he probably does not eat, right? Likewise, we could dismiss Tulsi Gabbard, except she actually is occupying a unique, Assad-Isn't-That-Bad lane in the race. Someone doing that seems fine, if occasionally disturbing. Meanwhile, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang are both special people with special qualities, and visions of politics that at least aren't entirely anodyne.

In fact, those also-rans' spouses, kids, and cousins might even be enjoying this moment in the metaphorical sun. They should go right ahead.

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Cory Booker
amy klobuchar