On Monday, a depleted Cory Booker dropped out of the presidential race, three weeks before the Iowa caucus. He had been running for president for nearly a year. The senator’s departure leaves a dozen Democrats still in the race. In the incredibly silly yet arduous process used to sift through presidential contenders, sixteen Democrats who were running have already failed.
Yes, they recruited campaign staffs, solicited donations, spoke at rallies, sought friends in wine caves, and pontificated on debate stages, only to gnash their teeth in despair over low statistics gathered through doubtful methods but taken as proof that they wouldn’t catch on. The reasons remain mysterious, but the polls “say” that these candidates are not what the American Tigger likes.
So Marianne Williamson, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Beto O’Rourke, Steve Bullock, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bill de Blasio, Eric Swalwell, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Tim Ryan, Joe Sestak, Richard Ojeda, Seth Moulton, Wayne Messam, and now Cory Booker, have all dropped out—beaten before even a single vote has been cast.
Meanwhile, likely voters (and donors) are being looked to determine what the Democratic Party needs. The Democratic National Committee is being decidedly hands-off when it comes to the all-important matter of picking a standard-bearer who can beat Trump. Given the divide that has opened up between progressives and moderates, the candidate who wins the nomination will fatefully determine the tilt of the entire party.
It’s left to the voters to judge the vast assemblage that has shown up in response to what is essentially an open casting call. The debate stage is an audition for the presidency (a crude test, given what being an effective president actually involves). Not surprisingly, many voters are holding off in picking a favorite, until they can see what other people think. Who is a winner? This is what ordinary voters expect someone else to decide.
Am I a typical voter, I who could imagine voting for Sanders, or Steyer, or Bullock, or Bloomberg? Even very well-informed voters may well yet be holding fire. Which makes me wonder about the meaning, at present, of those all-important opinion polls that sites like FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics keep track of for us, and which have caused so many interesting Democratic talents to drop out.
Image: from this source.
Joseph Keppler’s 1884 “An Unpleasant Ride through the Presidential Haunted Forest,” shows Uncle Sam and Dame Democracy riding in terror through a woods haunted with the ghosts of some twenty “dead” presidential hopefuls. Click to enlarge.
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