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Living in Society

Freak Out Monday by the Lake

With Elizabeth Warren at the Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, Iowa.

I’ve been saying for some time that Super Tuesday — the day 14 states, American Samoa, and Democrats Abroad hold presidential primary elections and caucuses — is the decider for who is viable and who is not in the Democratic presidential primary race.

After mixed results in four early states, the field is down to four main contenders: Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. After today’s voting we’ll see if Bloomberg and Warren remain viable. We’ll see if Bloomberg’s late entry coupled with spending hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money will get him in the game. We’ll also see if Warren’s ground game of political organizers is relevant to our modern politics. The expectation from national media and polling is the race will sort into a confrontation between so-called establishment or moderate Democrats backing Joe Biden, and the non-Democrat progressive Bernie Sanders. I suppose readers know all of that by 4:20 a.m. on Super Tuesday when I’m writing this. I hope there is a clear winner after votes are tabulated.

My plan for Monday did not include dealing with friends and neighbors freaking out over the possibility of a Sanders nomination. What I’m hearing in Big Grove Township is mostly fear that if nominated, Sanders would lose the general election, that he wouldn’t gain the support needed to prevail. Folks were urging support for Joe Biden, who is an equally flawed candidate. My chips were all on the table long before yesterday. The Iowa Caucuses are over and I stood with Elizabeth Warren with no regrets. I made another financial contribution to Warren’s campaign last night and drank a shot of whisky over ice cubes made from the Silurian Aquifer. What a day!

If we review who’s left in the Democratic primary, the top tier is comprised of septuagenarians I ruled out early in the process. I felt we needed new faces to breathe fresh air into the meandering beast the Democratic Party had become. Regretfully, none of the new faces who entered the race had staying power. Some of them, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke, rallied around Biden last night in Dallas, Texas.

In addition to it being freak out Monday by the lake, a number of high profile Biden endorsements were released in advance of today’s voting, including Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Susan Rice. Biden is winning the endorsement game with eight current U.S. Senators, 21 former senators, and more than 50 current U.S. Representatives. A question we have to ask ourselves is how much do endorsements matter in 2020? They certainly contributed to the freak out phenomenon going on around here.

When asked, my friends said they would support and work for whoever is the Democratic nominee at the national convention this summer. If it’s Biden or Sanders, they are concerned about losing the general election. Nontheless, to a person they will support our nominee. I don’t know if I talked any of them off the ceiling yesterday because this freak out is not about reason or logic.

What was disappointing was the statement one person made that this was not the year for a woman to win the presidency. If not now, then when, I asked. If we don’t nominate a female for president, there will never be a female president. Their arguments, based on fear of losing the general election, did not hold water.

Maybe Trump was right to focus on Biden in the first place. If that’s who we choose over reasonable and serious objections, Republicans have a well developed plan to win against him. That’s not a case for nominating someone else, I’m just saying.

Today voters will decide who moves forward. It’s now or never for Bloomberg and Warren, assuming Sanders and Biden have reasonable showings. The worst that could happen is the electorate is not of a single mind about who should be the nominee. That would drag the process out for the rest of March when we could be consolidating around a candidate. That’s a flaw in Iowa going first: in 2016 and 2020 we did not produce a clear winner.

I’m ready to get beyond Super Tuesday as soon as the votes are counted. There’s a lot to be done in the coming months and we need to get after it. Hopefully the freak out will abate and we’ll know where we stand. Perhaps that’s too reasonable a wish in the new era of politics.