Xavier Becerra for vice president

A lot of veepstakes talk in the air. Personally, I’m hoping Hillary picks Xavier Becerra. It’s true that Liz Warren (my second choice) would help bring some of the angrier Bernie voters on board. And it’s true that Corey Booker (my other second choice) is a helluva man. No kidding. Rescued a man from a burning house, literally. Hard to top that. But both he and Warren are senators, and we need every senator we can get. And both are also future and exceptionally qualified presidential candidates, and being veep is rarely a path to the oval office without somebody getting shot first. So I’m loathe to pluck someone out of the Senate. It doesn’t help any that both Massachusetts and New Jersey have Republican governors who would not replace either with a Democrat.

Corey Booker’s base is solidly Democratic and already vote at a higher rate than anyone else in that Democratic base….including nice white middle class Democrats. (Indeed, boomer/gen-x black women have the highest rate of voting of all Americans.) And to pick Liz Warren to draw Berniecrats seems a little unseemly. Most of them are going to come over anyway, and a fifth will vote for Trump whether or not Liz Warren in on the ticket. There’s no doubt that selecting the eminently qualified Elizabeth Warren would be interpreted, unfairly and wrongly, as pleading for Bernie votes. Still, that is how many would interpret it, Hillary pleading for votes. Begging even. And a presidential candidate should never beg. Jimmy Carter begged the voters once. He never recovered.

Xavier Becerra, though, not only rewards one of the key components of Hillary’s winning coalition, but it would dramatically increase the amount of Hispanics who will vote on election day, always a weak point for the Democrats. There were already record numbers of Hispanics registering to vote in the primaries this year, such was their fear and loathing of Donald Trump. With Xavier Becerra on the ballot, the son of Mexican immigrants much like a certain Indiana judge, versus Donald Trump, who has called everyone from Mexico to potential rapists and degenerates, the number of Mexican American voter registrations will sky rocket. This would not only help the Democrats beat Trump this year, but would have profound long term implications for political power in the south west. If Hispanics began voting at the same level as whites, a lot of crazed Tea Partiers and redneck sheriffs can kiss their political asses goodbye. At last there would be a price to pay come election day for all that Republican nativist ranting.

Becerra could turn the southwest into an electoral vote nightmare for the GOP. The increase in Mexican-American voters coming out for a second generation immigrant a heartbeat away from the presidency will deliver Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico to the Democrat column, turn Arizona into a swing state and even force the Trump campaign to spend its limited resources in Texas, where the Hillary campaign will make a huge effort if only because the Republicans will have to spend so much money fighting it (Texas with its seventeen media markets is very expensive for statewide TV advertising.) Becerra on the ticket will give an increased edge in Illinois, make things that much harder for Trump in Florida, and dramatically increase fundraising in California. And above all, it puts Trump’s vicious anti-Mexican bigotry (and his prejudice in general) in the front row seat all campaign long. With Becerra on the ticket, Trump will be a racist 24/7.

And besides all that, Becerra is thoroughly qualified, smart as hell, and a nice guy. He was our congressman for years, and come to think of it, he actually knocked on our door once. As did his brother. The man walked the precincts, old school.

Yeah, Xavier Becerra for vice president

End of pitch.

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Two huge universes full of people who would like to punch each other in the face

(February, 2016)

Since everyone so long ago unfriended everyone whose politics differs from their own, right now you have millions of passionate Trump devotees–the kind who would not object, he says, if he shot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue–and millions of passionate supporters of Bernie Sanders, and yet each could scarcely name a handful of people they know personally, I bet, who are supporters of each others candidate. Maybe in real life they could, guys at work, or family members they never agreed with anyway, but on Facebook they see none of each other’s posts, memes, blog articles, and puff pieces. Two huge universes full of people who would like to punch each other in the face if they ever met on Facebook, but they don’t. Instead both are surrounded overwhelmingly by people who feel exactly like they do, who all like the same memes, agree with the same bloggers, believe the same conspiracies. And each side, the Trump people and the Bernie people, is convinced that most people in America, the good people of America, think like they do, and support their candidate. Each sees itself in a revolution, an overwhelming tide of history that will sweep their enemies before them. And each sees a vast media conspiracy to deride their candidate and spread lies because the media is in the hands of the establishment. Continue reading

Democrats and Donald Trump, or how social media is changing the way you think and act and fear

I cannot figure out what the hell it is that makes Democrats want to obsess over Donald Trump, but I think now might be a good time to ask yourself just how much of your fears and fascinations are being driven by Facebook, Twitter and cable news. Because if you are a Democrat then Donald Trump doesn’t mean a goddamn thing. He is running for the REPUBLICAN PARTY NOMINATION. And unless you are Republican, then what the hell are you doing wasting time even thinking about him.

Stop being a victim of viral campaigns. What’s worse is that these are not even being directed by anyone. It is just social media changing the way you think and act and fear. I can never remember seeing people’s thought processes so controlled by the Internet before. If you take a step back and look and listen, this is some really creepy shit. People have lost control of the medium. It is taking over. It is feeding on your emotions, paranoia, and hatred. When all you Democrats were watching the Republican debate like it was the most important thing in the world I felt something crack.

You might want to step back and take a deep breath.

Convergence

Wow. Twelve declared Republican presidential candidates as of today, and another four expected. Sixteen total. That’s seems nuts.

But thinking back to my college days when I had dreams of being another Theodore White and read every campaign history I could lay my hands on, I remember doing a rather long paper on the 1976 presidential election campaign. It’s probably stuffed in a box around here somewhere. That was the first election after Watergate, and the Democrats had blown the GOP to smithereens in the previous midterms. Watergate, you’ll remember. If you were a Democrat and breathing you were elected that year. And as 1976 approached, the excitement was too much for many Democrats and fifteen of them declared themselves candidates for president, and another sixteen considered but decided against it, which means at one point over thirty Democrats were picturing themselves in the Oval Office, signing bills and giving orders. I’ve seen no list yet of the Republicans who were thinking about running this year but changed their minds. But if the last four Republicans expected to announce this year do join the herd, they will have officially beat by one candidate the Democrat’s total in 1976, which I believe was the most ever. That was a helluva campaign on the Democratic side, the 1976 nomination race. Fast paced, fluid, full of surprises. The histories–I remember reading two of them, though the titles escape me–read like fast paced novels. The underdog, a peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter, won in a happy ending that made Americans feel warm all over. It was the most exciting election since 1968, the histories of which (An American Melodrama was one) also read like a novel, though a tragic one, full of death and betrayal, the ending just sad. Continue reading