Presented here is a short list of some of the most ridiculous statements, absolute gems really, from some of the hopefuls for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President. These are all either verbatim quotes from speeches, interviews, or official Twitter posts from the candidates. After I was initially rendered catatonic by examining the collective ignorance, I got it together to provide some clarity and rough translations to try and tease out the not-so-hidden agendas of each politician.
There was a lot to choose from, but I specifically picked each of these remarks because they are all exquisite examples of each candidate’s specific brand of delusional ideology and idiosyncrasy distilled down to their bare essences.
Unlike most campaign double-plus-good speech and blather where nothing of any significance is uttered, most of these instances unintentionally display veiled truths as well as display astounding naiveté and immorality, and shine an extra bit of light on each candidate’s personal quirks, beliefs, and foibles. These quotes unintentionally illuminate each candidate’s depravity and the modus operandi of neoliberal economics, and capitalism more broadly. They reveal how every vice is paraded as virtue, how class is never addressed meaningfully, how rhetoric is used to cover up the immorality, the endemic rot and corruption, the omissions, distortions, and obfuscations, basically the general Weltanschauung of late-capitalist culture.
Each quote here either unconsciously or deliberately attempts to obscure deeper issues and cover up the failures of our economic and political systems, yet backfires spectacularly, because it is so painfully obvious what the deeper implications are. My interpretations here are simply the brutally honest versions of their own words, taking the logic of their arguments, life choices, policies, and ideological beliefs to their final conclusions. Let’s dive in.
Kamala Harris: “Yesterday I announced that, as President, I’ll establish a student loan debt forgiveness program for Pell Grant recipients who start a business that operates for three years in disadvantaged communities.”
Translation: “How can I maximize the appearance of doing something good while in actuality helping the least amount of people without anyone noticing? No one’s actually going to crunch the numbers on this, right? My billionaire donors are totally not OK with canceling student debt or really anything that won’t line their own pockets, but I need to appeal to pseudo-progressives who can’t be bothered to research for two minutes and realize this program would help about ten whole people in the entire country.”
Pete Buttigieg: “I did not carry an assault weapon around a foreign country so I could come home and see them used to massacre my countrymen.”
Translation: “It’s totally OK to massacre innocent people halfway around the world, but please, just don’t do it here. I literally see no connection between our foreign policy and mass shooters in the United States. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”
Elizabeth Warren: “We don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one. My plan will improve our service members’ readiness and safety, and achieve cost savings for American taxpayers. Together-we can fight climate change-and win.”
Translation: “Have you always wanted to see a solar-powered drone rain death upon those scary terrorists? I’m your gal for a sustainably genocidal globe-spanning 21st century military! Ever wondered what a biodiesel tank would look like? I have all the best plans. Pick me in 2020 and help us build an eco-friendly empire!”
Andrew Yang: “I understand the spirit and appeal of a wealth tax. It makes sense that those who enjoy vast fortunes should pay back into the system, particularly given the concentrations of wealth in our winner-take-all economy. But the implementation would be impractical and problematic.”
Translation: “My only friends are venture capitalists and wealthy business owners, so it would be impractical and problematic for me to piss them off: I really don’t want my three billionaire friends to stop liking me and donating to my campaign. I am smart enough to know better, but I just can’t bring myself to back a common-sense solution as it goes against my own class interests. Plus, do you know how many jobs entrepreneurs create? Nothing gets me going more than being a total wonk with fellow entrepreneurs to discuss how to create new business opportunities and grow the pie for American families. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of our economy, don’t you know. I have lots of fake statistics that prove it. Have I mentioned how much I love entrepreneurs? I may have a few progressive ideas and good intentions, but I’m basically a slightly left of center, techno-libertarian version of Milton Friedman, who also supported UBI.”
Beto O’Rourke: “Man, I’m just born to be in it.” (Referring to the 2020 election race.)
Translation: “There is no reason for me to be in the race anymore as I have no chance of winning, no original ideas of my own, and my whole campaign is predicated on vapid PR centrist bullshit. I was well off before marrying into money, but now I can really let my sense of privilege shine and spread my wings of entitlement. I can’t just be a normal rich asshole having a mid-life crisis who buys a third home or gets a mistress, I don’t have the self-awareness to just go away, so I’ll have to bore you all to death with my insipid blatherings in the media. I’m kind of a poster-boy for a bougie generic type of gen-X slacker, except not even the semi-interesting kind who joined the Peace Corps or lived in Europe for a bit; I’m more of an aimless dilettante with delusions of grandeur. Before I was a Congressman I attempted to sell-off parts of El Paso to gentrify the city for my sleazy real-estate developer father-in-law. Actually, I’m a lot like George W. Bush, another rich Texan with daddy issues and past problems with alcohol. Did you know I was in a punk band? Punk rock is a lot like politics, actually, you have to be authentic to succeed, and my DIY credentials are unparalleled, man.”
Joe Biden: “I remember when we had a president our children could look up to.”
Translation: “I’m not referring to children of undocumented immigrants who saw their parents unjustly deported under the Obama administration. I’m not referring to children whose parents have been locked away and immorally jailed for non-violent crimes all so I can pander to a regressive center-left and center-right and placate my elite reactionary, authoritarian donors. Nor am I referring to the countless children killed and even more who’ve been terrorized by endless wars and constant drone bombing stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Central Asia. Brown kids are just as bright as white kids, but they’re going to grow up to either steal our jobs or become terrorists or both and we can’t have that. Even though I’m a doddering fossil, my handlers will ensure I’m able to fake the appearance of competence and pander to a return to the good old times when America was united. Make America Normal Again, am I right?!”
Amy Klobuchar: “When you’re out there on the world stage and dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, yeah, you want someone who’s tough…you want someone that demands the answers and that’s going to get things done, and that’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
Translation: “The rumors you’ve heard about me are true. I may be a stone-cold psycho who throws office supplies at my staff, berates, takes advantage of, and verbally abuses them, but America, you’re going to need me to deal with all those big Boogeymen and scary threats we are facing as a nation. See, unlike Trump, when I treat people like dirt it’s because I earned the right to do so by getting things done. That’s how our meritocracy works after all, right? I was exploited and abused when I climbed the corporate and political ladders, which helped me learn to demand answers and made me tough, so this justifies the hurt I now inflict on others, which I derive a sick form of pleasure from. My insane and sociopathic use of using leverage on the less powerful, my coercive behavior and bullying my employees in my campaign office will work great for dealing with fellow world leaders…that’s what makes America exceptional, after all, humiliating and forcing others to do your bidding against their will.”
Tulsi Gabbard: “In short, when it comes to war against terrorists, I’m a hawk. When it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.”
Translation: “First, notice the counterproductive. See, I want our nation to get back to launching productive wars of regime change. Despite my professed anti-interventionism, I’m not intelligent enough to understand that regime change was always predicated on and justified by the appeal to a ‘war on terror’, and that the military-industrial-intelligence complex will always label foreign leaders or groups who they want destroyed as ‘terrorists’, whether they pose an actual threat or not. There is no indication from my background that I would have the backbone or strong anti-war belief system to stand up to the national-security state. This is why many moderates and ‘independents’, as well as liberals, find my superficial isolationism appealing: it covers for the same noxious nationalism and malignant imperialism endemic to our politics. When it comes to Islamic religion and culture which I’ve regularly demeaned and slandered as promoting ‘radical extremism’, I’m a hawk. When it comes to my wonderful friend Narendra Modi, I’m a dove. There’s nothing weird about that, right? No contradictions to see here.”
Cory Booker: “When discouraged, choose hope. When criticized, choose humility. When hurt, choose forgiveness. When dreams are dashed, dream again.”
Translation: “Let me be clear: yeah, I really do talk like this all the time. I’m your very earnest, cheesy, woke slam-poetry candidate. Look, I know many of you see me a pompous windbag full of platitudes and oozing pablum, but let me dissuade you of that notion. I know you’re discouraged because we chose ‘hope’ in 2008 and it didn’t work out so well, but trust me, this time it’ll be different. When I’m criticized for being a sellout, I always think back to my billionaire donors on Wall Street and in the pharmaceutical industry, and it humbles me because I know I couldn’t be where I am today without them. I may have gotten hurt by taking too many shots to the head playing college football, because I often quote W.E.B. Du Bois and MLK Jr. without any deep understanding of their actual political beliefs, but I know you’ll all forgive me for Disney-fying their legacy. I know many people’s dreams have been dashed by our economic system, but my dreams, like the dreams of my ruling class buddies, are so completely enveloped by our affluence and vainglorious drive for power that we are ready and willing to dash your dreams again.”
Bernie Sanders: “The Maduro government has waged a violent crackdown on civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election many observers said was fraudulent. The economy is a disaster and millions are migrating.”
Translation: “Here lies proof that neoliberal thought infects everyone and everything, and it’s no surprise that this includes reformist social democrats like me. I supported the Sandinistas, Cuba and Castro, but I parrot State Department propaganda on Venezuela to a T. It would be so easy for me to gain genuine, stalwart socialist allies if I reached out to people, and they could help me see through the disinformation swirling around Maduro’s government and various foreign policy issues, but I am either too stubborn or prideful to acknowledge their existence and learn from them.”