New Hampshire Ends Campaigns Of One Candidate You've Heard Of, Plus Two Others
The New Hampshire Democratic primary is finally over and so are the presidential ambitions of several candidates whose campaigns only really existed when directly observed. The first to fall Tuesday night was Andrew Yang. The lead vocalist for the Yang Gang was in no way qualified to serve as commander in chief, but we won't hold that against him. We're going to be nice.
Yang was a complex, tie-less figure. He excited the Left with his proposal for a universal basic income, but the Asian-American entrepreneur also appealed to the alt-right. No one ever said the alt-right was intelligent. More traditional conservatives also liked him. National Review Never Trumper Jeff Blehar said he believed Yang was the only Democrat running who "didn't hate him and want him to suffer" because he was a Christian conservative. He must be terrified now. Sorry, Christians, but Bernie Sanders doesn't recognize safe words.
The other day at the "Our Rights, Our Courts" forum in Concord, New Hampshire, Yang made the sound argument that Supreme Court justices should serve only 18-year-terms, but then he later suggested that we need to get back to the point where "nobody is celebrating an abortion." It is annoying whenever I'm stuck in traffic during yet another "I just had an abortion" parade. He said he supported a woman's right to choose but if the choice is abortion, it's a "tragedy." That's pretty regressive rhetoric from someone who was otherwise so forward-thinking.
But Yang was a pleasant, inoffensive guy, someone you'd probably want to hang out with if you owned an electric car. We'll miss his youthful optimism. I also respect that he didn't want to continue accepting donations from his supporters when it was clear he had no path forward.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet also dropped out last night. I'd forgotten he was running, which tells you all you need to know about his campaign. He met the qualifications for only two of the 4,000 debates. It was a good week for him if he polled in the single digits. Nevertheless, he persisted (wait, I think that's someone else). In a recent profile, the LA Times made him sound like a Stephen Crane character.
And, yet, driven by some combination of stubborn belief in his own argument, hope and the unique form of gratification public figures get from expressing their ideas to a crowd, Bennet soldiers on, the epitome of the back-of-the-pack candidate who insists that he's just one lucky break from cracking through.
"It's been tough from the very beginning," Bennet said from the driver's seat of a rented minivan on a recent swing through the state.
Bennet had long pinned his hopes on a strong showing in New Hampshire.
BENNET: I'm going to spend a lot of time here. The way I'm going to win is by being in the living room after living room after living room after living room.
That's his problem, right there. I counted just four living rooms. I think he only managed to close the owners of one of them, a Bruce and Harriet Nyborg, and they didn't come through for him.
However, I still owe Bennet a Klingon life debt for yelling at Ted Cruz on the Senate floor. If he'd just streamlined his platform to universal mockery of Cruz, he'd be the presumptive frontrunner right now.
There were briefly some reports circulating Tuesday that billionaire Tom Steyer had dropped out, but that was just an unreliable anonymous tip from someone named "Moe Smiden." Steyer lives on to spoil the South Carolina primary.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is also expected to formally drop out of the race today. Like the movie Cats, it was unclear why his campaign existed at all. During Patrick's New Hampshire town hall last week, he reminded voters that he's a "man of faith" and complained that Democrats are sometimes "really squishy about the language of faith." This isn't true. Democrats won't shut up about religion, but I guess that's what you have to say when you're competing to win last place.
Patrick was probably qualified to do the job, but that doesn't seem a pressing consideration for Democratic primary voters this year. He was the last black man standing. Our only representative now is Joe Biden. This leaves Tulsi Gabbard as the only remaining "Democratic" candidate of color, because God hates us.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).