The Race for Entertainer in Chief

With the dust now settling from the first set of debates for the hoard of Democratic presidential hopefuls, we are beginning to see the initial reactions to the first debates subside. On debate night, the viewing public and the professional pundit class review the drama-infused question of “who won” by assessing who scored the most perceivable imaginary “points”. The media – in their unyielding pursuit of a “story” to sell to consumers – builds up the hype that “winning” a debate is crucial for the future of a campaign. Truth be told, the debate “victory” is only absolutely critical for the campaigns receiving little to no attention in the mainstream. Based on that measure, the soap opera winners of the debates so far were Senator Harris and Former Secretary Castro, with Harris stealing the show out of the two combined nights.

Castro managed to be the dark horse candidate of the two nights because he managed to permeate the circus of the first night with his sincere advocacy for humane immigration policies. Harris – a brief establishment favorite from earlier this year before Beto stole her thunder – became the most aggressive participant over all as she lashed out primarily at Biden; the primary target of everyone on the second night stage (except Bernie, who did his best to stick to the issues, even when he pushed back against Swalwell’s “generation” argument). The biggest moment of both nights was when Senator Harris attacked Former Vice President Biden’s stance on bussing. Her most powerful moment came when she noted that she was a young – history-making – beneficiary of the programs Biden had opposed as a matter of national policy. It was widely portrayed as damaging for Joe Biden.

Over the next week – as the pundits were swooning over their rediscovered champion – Kamala Harris walked back her scathing critique of Biden and it came to public attention that the viral moment of her attack had been a prepared cheap shot made for printing T-Shirts. While planning an attack in a debate is hardly new, the fact that they had a shirt design ready to go within hours left a sour taste in the mouths of many. As a result, the bump for Harris was limited to a few points in the polls whilst Biden took a slight plunge. What’s frustrating about all of this is that this dramatic “horserace” is all that the media focuses on, issues be damned. Again, this is nothing new, and it is why the current success of the revolution forcing an issues-centric campaign is understandable and why its ultimate victory is vital.

One thing to note about the race so far is that every time issues are forced to the forefront of the circus act, it is likely one of a number of progressive issues which emerges as the point of conversation. All Democratic candidates not named Bernie who discuss issues go out of their way to emulate Bernie by adopting policies which he has promoted in the past. In some cases, they have even gone further to the “left” to out-flank him; like with Castro’s very “radical” idea of decriminalizing migration (something we should all get behind). While it may seem that this is part of a coordinated effort to push Bernie out of the picture it is actually proof that his 2016 campaign and his current – still viable – campaign this time around are forcing the party to pay attention to issues which matter to the working class and the voiceless over all. That means we – the revolution – are winning and the establishment knows it.

The ongoing victory of our progressive revolt via the issues is the most important thing to remember in this campaign, but we aren’t just winning the policy arguments. For everyone watching the first debate it was clear from start to finish that the dominance of progressive issues throughout was connected to the long, wild-haired shadow of one candidate: Bernie. His name was the ONLY name of any Democratic candidate not present at the first night which earned a mention. While candidates like Castro, De Blasio, Warren, Tulsi, and even Booker did relatively well for themselves that night, it was obvious from the get go that Bernie Sanders was on their collective minds and they were all scrambling to catch him by latching onto his coattails all night long. Yes, Bernie won that debate in spirit, because the standard he has set since 2016 led the way and was never successfully rejected on either night.

Harris may have appeared the strongest candidate on either night, but she never even attempted to contrast herself with Bernie (most serious candidates avoided doing so, in fact). Instead, she made an appeal to be the favorite character in the soap opera. In terms of entertainment, she won both nights. On the issues-oriented comparison, the victory belongs to the revolution and its favorite champion, Bernie Sanders. From watching the debates it was clear only where one candidate stood on every issue as everyone else danced around the questions about which they were most uncomfortable.

The one moment of weakness for Bernie came to the viewer’s attention when moderator Rachel Maddow presented Bernie with a challenge to address his stance on guns, but the ONLY candidate who attacked Bernie with the red meat the moderators gifted them was Congressman Swalwell who harmed his case by presenting and beating up all of his opponents with a politically-suicidal and unrealistic proposal of forcing citizens to give up the weapons they already own. Make no mistake, Bernie has a real problem in confronting this issue – at least in terms of his past statements and votes in Congress -, but the establishment attempt to bludgeon him with it fell flat. The reason is that there isn’t a single candidate on that stage who hasn’t “evolved” on a wide variety of issues, and they know it. At this moment and ever since 2016, Bernie has taken a solid position on guns and has run on being more pro-active in addressing the root causes of the gun violence crisis, in spite of the NRA. Since we are not a cult of blind followers, we can acknowledge where Bernie made mistakes in the past on this and pressure him to be better. Out of everyone, we know Bernie is listening to our criticism and that he will be better here and elsewhere with ample public pressure.

In assessing the state of the race, it is clear that the vast majority of candidates on the Democratic side have chosen to adopt a piece of the stances long upheld and recently popularized through Bernie. It is also clear that everyone not named Bernie has taken it upon themselves to try and out-perform everyone else on the stage in the political show being broadcast by the mainstream media in partnership with the Democratic Party’s elite. It is a contest not to demonstrate to the working class who will best serve them, but a scramble to become the party’s chief entertainer. One of the gravest mistakes in this model is to – again – underestimate Donald Trump come November 2020.

Donald John Trump – for what it is worth – is the most entertaining president in the history of our country. To go further, he is the most entertaining political leader in the history of the world (I challenge anyone to dispute that). The ability to entertain the audience (i.e., victims) is how every con man has been successful, because the show distracts from the crime. Especially at this moment, it is essential to avoid gambling with putting Trump up against a mere standard political entertainer. The only way to assure defeat of the con is to contrast it with the genuine article, and everyone reading this should be clear as to what that means. It means we must scrap the soap opera and bury it with the issues if we hope to overcome the Trump Era and the best candidate at our disposal for that mission is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Avatar

Daniel H. Crawford III

Daniel Crawford is the proud father of Austin (born in 2006) and Madison (born in 2008), uncle to seven nieces and nephews, brother to three younger siblings, and the surviving son of his late-mother – Starla Kay Hunter -, whom passed away at the age of 49 in 2012 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Government with Minor Degrees in History and Public Administration in 2013 from Ashford University. A long-time activist, Daniel first got involved in politics when he was 18 in 2003 by frequently contributing to a progressive blog called Democrats.com under the pseudonym “dem4christ04”. In 2005, he created his own blog through Xanga at http://democratforchrist2020.xanga.com/ and still contributes to such from time to time. In 2004, Daniel began volunteering with his local Democratic Party in Licking County, Ohio and soon thereafter helped to build the Licking County Democratic Club; in which he later served as the Club’s Second Vice President in 2016. From 2006-2008, Daniel was a vocal advocate for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney for their numerous offenses, giving numerous, lengthy speeches at his local City Council meetings in promoting a resolution to pressure his members of Congress to hold the administration accountable. In 2014, Daniel again saw the need to advocate for impeachment, but this time for President Obama, for his overreaching use of executive powers, as well as a perceived continuation of many abuses under George W. Bush, warning that the continued circumvention of Congress – regardless of the intent - was a usurpation of legislative powers and a dangerous precedent for the separation of powers. In 2011, Daniel formed a local chapter of “Occupy” called the “99% of Newark and East Central Ohio”. The group’s members came together for numerous reasons, but soon concentrated on the issue of money in politics as the foundational issue which needed to be addressed first. From 2014 through 2016, the group’s small membership managed to make history in Newark by successfully placing a citizen’s initiative on the ballot to create an educational event – called “Democracy Day” - centered around the money in politics issue with special emphasis on the Citizens United ruling. The initiative – which narrowly failed, sadly – would have created this event and would have demanded that our members of Congress support a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United. In 2017, despite the failure of that initiative, the group – which became a subgroup of the Licking County Progressives, an organization formed in the wake of the 2016 Election – hosted our first “Democracy Day” event, seeing that we needed to do more to educate the public on the matter. Also in 2016, Daniel was appointed to the Board of the Freedom School of Licking County – a nonprofit which promotes education for the purpose of empowering average Americans in society and the workplace -, and was elected to a term as its Chairman that summer. Daniel has also authored a number of books – created and published through an Amazon service called “CreateSpace” -: a manifesto entitled “The Pillars of Unitism” and a novel entitled “The Politician: Crisis” (the latter is the first part of a planned trilogy). His undying devotion to the cause of empowering the people via a strengthened democracy is what drives him each and every day. While his children inspire the bulk of his determination to build a better world, he learned to be indiscriminately compassionate from his mother, as she sought – through to her dying day – to see every mouth fed, every back clothed, and everybody housed…so long as she could help it. Why – it must be asked – is this compassionate vision for the world so controversial in the first place? In Daniel’s mind, challenging the status quo of rugged individualism and inspiring the rejuvenation of a collective spirit is his life’s work.