Love and electability – the candidates come a-courting

2016dancecompYou know you’ve felt it, the glaring double-take from friends who can’t believe you are pulling for Bernie Sanders. “You know he’s unelectable,” they say, referring to his independent affiliation in Congress and his longstanding identification as a Democratic Socialist.

Eight years ago, those were the people saying the same thing about Barack Obama.

And like 2008, they are pulling for Hillary, of course, because she is a conventional candidate. But you’re a rebel, and you and others like you are pulling for Bernie for the exact opposite reason. He’s not only unconventional, he’s calling for a “political revolution.” Plus, his populist policies are great for the middle class, great for America.

I watched the first Democratic debate of the 2016 cycle on CNN, Tuesday night, in a tavern full of party supporters and activists. Most already had expressed a preference from among the list of candidates, and it’s safe to say that the debate really changed no one’s mind, except the occasional surprise by those who found themselves agreeing with Bernie Sanders more than they thought they would.

In fact, Google’s analysis of searches done during the debate showed that “From start to finish, it was Sanders” who people were interested in finding out more about.

We have heard from most of the Republicans and Democrats who say they want to be president, as they embellish their accomplishments and wax about the policies they would present to Congress. We’ve had our first virtual socials with the viable and the unviable, so now it’s time to let our friends in on our candidate crushes.

On the right, they have the brash one, the quiet one, the cute one and the legacy, along with the mean one and the leader in search of a group that would have her, plus the religious ones. There is no tolerant one.

On the left stand the pragmatic one, the passionate revolutionary one, and the earnest one, along with the disciplinarian and the over-eager one (bless his heart).

Let’s start with Donald J. Trump, who many Republicans, and even a few independents, fawn over and adore. He is the brash, bad boy. He’s unwilling to bend to conventions like political correctness, for example, because it “takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort,” as he told NBC News, Wednesday morning. But if he chose to acquiesce to political correctness, he said, he would be “more politically correct than anybody you’ve ever interviewed.” Of course he would say that. It’s very Trump-ian.

Ben Carson is a Christian Right darling. Smart enough to be a brain surgeon, but dumb enough to believe in fairy tales, like Noah’s Ark, or if my grandparents had guns, maybe they would have outlived Hitler. Trump says he’s “nice.” I don’t think so.

Below those two on the GOP side, it’s a statistical mashup of the boyish Marco Rubio, the confused Jeb Bush who is having trouble loving his brother while trying to distance himself from his legacy, and Carly Fiorina, who will just get more and more stern until her authority is respected. Then, of course, there’s the intolerable Dominionist, Ted Cruz, the bully, Chris Christie, and the also-Rands.

Maybe your darling, the one you’re ready to fall in love with, if you haven’t already, is in the class that presented itself in Las Vegas, Tuesday night.

Will Saletan, posting at Salon, believes the populism voiced in Vegas is where most Americans are:

“Democrats are putting together a case for jerking the leash on capitalism. It’s moral, pragmatic, and smart. It fits the spirit of the times. Republicans had better come up with an answer.”

The pundits say that Hillary crushed it, but maybe you don’t concede to their consensus. Maybe her promise to “rein in the excesses of capitalism so that it doesn’t run amok” misses the point of the social contract of the type Bernie is pushing or Martin O’Malley endorsed. Or, despite Sanders magnanimously sidestepping the topic of Clinton’s “damn emails,” you believe it is a legitimate issue.

There is nothing wrong with swooning with anticipation over who you want on your arm when you come to the Great American Homecoming Dance, next November. Committing to Bernie, say, is great. Give him money. Work on the campaign. But don’t be disillusioned when your traditional parents put the kibosh on your crush because they are looking out for what, or who, they think is better for you in the long run.

And please don’t let the dreadful experience of attachment and disappointment keep you from being enthused about the dance, even if you’re not dancing with the one that brought you. We still need you to show up and actually dance, because democracy abhors wallflowers.


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