Hey! Do You Know Who Is ‘Electable?’ Literally All Of The Democratic Candidates!
I'm gonna share a story with you, America. One morning, in 1996, I woke up for school, came downstairs, toasted some rye bread (we can reasonably assume), and turned the on the television to MTV. And I see this music video featuring a bunch of ladies in halter tops and leotards, singing some pop music with the most trite sounding lyrics I had ever heard in my life — nary a musical instrument to be seen.
"Whell, this will never catch on," thought I. After all, even most of the music on MTV then was either R&B, hip-hop or the more radio-friendly alternative/angry chick folk rock. Everyone I knew was, at that time, totally denying they'd ever listened to New Kids on The Block or Paula Abdul. Even the preppy kids were mostly listening to stuff like Dave Matthews, Barenaked Ladies and Hootie and The Blowfish. The only pop that seemed to be around was Madonna, and even she was putting shit out like Bedtime Stories that could hardly be considered bubblegum. And I thought I had a good grip on the way things were and what people were into.
And it was probably the most wrong about anything I have ever been in my life.
It was then that I first started to understand that not only can you never account for taste, but that people's tastes often depend less on what they are intrinsically and naturally drawn to than on what they are being sold and how effectively that thing is being sold to them. If you pay attention, you can see it happens all the time — with music, media, fashion, food, and, yes, even political opinions and causes.
It is with this in mind that I would like us all to look at the results of the recent Quinnipiac poll showing Trump versus every Democratic candidate.
Bloomberg beats Trump 51-42
Sanders beats Trump 51-43
Biden beats Trump 50-43
Klobuchar beats Trump 49-43
Warren beats Trump 48-44
Buttigieg beats Trump 47-43
Now, sure. This does not take into account the electoral college. It doesn't take into account third party challenges. It does not take into account the fact that a lot of people don't so much know what Mike Bloomberg is about, other than his commercials that he has bought with his buttloads of money that he has. But if it shows any damn thing, it shows that there is not one magically super electable Democrat in the running, and that they basically all, at least, have a chance to be electable. With the right marketing.
To borrow a phrase from Martha Stewart, that's a good thing.
It means that we can all just vote for the people we genuinely and sincerely like the best, instead of trying to use our psychic powers to try to vote for who we think other people will vote for. Just as we might all be wrong about people going all in on our most beloved candidate, we also might be wrong that they won't. My theory has always been that people should vote for the candidate that speaks to them the most, because that's really all we have to go on. If someone really rocks your world, why assume that you are some special unique snowflake and they won't be able to do that for anyone else?
The problem with voting for someone based on their perceived electability and only their perceived electability is that one small thing can knock them off their game, and then what do they have to fall back on? If they have policies and stances that people want (like really, really want), those setbacks are so much more survivable. Trump was not wrong when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and would not lose any voters, because people care more about the stuff they feel he will do for them — outlaw abortion, be super horrible to immigrants in a way that makes them feel good about themselves, lower the bar for acceptable human behavior etc. — than they do about anything else he does. He's got a buffer. It's a gross buffer, but it's there.
Trying to do the "practical" thing here is not actually practical. It is not "practical" to believe you have psychic powers and know what everyone else in the country is going to do. If we learned anything from 2016, it should be that polls and what we think of as "electability" are really not to be trusted.
Vote for who you actually want, because "Eh, I could give or take" is not what we need right now if we're going to beat Trump and his legion of freakishly devoted followers. Trust that if everyone does that, the most "electable" person will win, and that whoever wins, we will all find a way to sell the shit out of that candidate. And the best chance we have of being able to do that is if there truly is a strong contingent of people who truly believe in them.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse