I haven’t—as you’ve noticed—been writing about my Party’s nomination contest. I have had very little to say about it, honestly. If you are interested in handicapping and odds, there are all kinds of people doing that—qualitative, quantitative, analytical, rhetorical and wrong. I haven’t felt the desire to add to any of it.
And I haven’t felt the desire to convince anyone of anything. Think you can predict which candidates are electable? Support one over another for that reason, or despite that? Think you can see a path to the nomination for this guy but not that one? You are as likely to be correct as I am, and even if you aren’t, rock on my friends with your participation in the whole self-government thing!
In part this is because I genuinely feel like there have been eight or ten perfectly cromulent candidates that I could happily support in the general election, and the ones that I haven’t felt confident about being able to support in the general election were (I felt) very unlikely to be the nominee, and if I were wrong about that, then I would have been wrong about the support thing, too. So: I have consciously thought that I was not choosing a candidate, not ranking candidates one-to-ten or one-to-twenty or whatever. Kamala Harris? Deval Patrick? Bernie Sanders? Pete Buttigieg? Joe Biden? Joaquin Castro? Amy Klobuchar? Kirsten Gillibrand? Jay Inslee? All good, all good. I have had no interest in pushing one to the detriment of another. And I feel pretty strongly that it’s foolish (OK, maybe not foolish but sub-optimal) to take sides early in the primary season. The way I’ve been putting it is that rather than thinking of the primaries as a way to choose the best possible candidate, we should think of the primaries as choosing the forward path of the Party, and then binding a perfectly good candidate to that path. Getting emotionally invested in a candidate—in a Leader—is not the way.
So, having very deliberately chosen not to rest my hopes on one particular candidate, I find, now that we are past the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire Primary, that I am powerfully, emotionally disappointed that Senator Warren is Through.
Now, saying that she is Through does not mean that I think it’s impossible for her to be the nominee. Every nominee has a moment when the candidacy is Through. The ability to guide a campaign past that moment, recover from it, and continue to compete is an important marker of a good general-election candidate, and that’s one of the ways in which our awkward drawn-out system does usually settle on perfectly cromulent candidates. But of course most candidacies are Through when they are Through, even if the candidate and the campaign are terrific and there doesn’t appear to be any particular reason for it. In the nature of the thing, there will be only one nominee, and while it might be Elizabeth Warren, she is right now a longshot of longshots. In other words, she’s Through.
And I find that I really don’t want her to be Through. It turns out that I had in fact invested my emotions in a candidacy, without wanting to, and that it was hers. I don’t really know why—I mean, yes, there are lots of reasons why she’s an inspiring candidate, but so what, there are reasons why any of a dozen of ’em were inspiring candidates. But they’ve mostly gone home to paint their garages, and I haven’t minded a bit. This one hurts.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,