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Democratic Primaries and Harry Potter

May 27, 2019

Even if you’re not a fan, Elizabeth Warren is a sitting US Senator, former university professor with numerous publications, and currently cranking out policy by the truckload.  Pete Buttigeig is a mayor, former student and offers more platitudes than policy. 

And who has the reputation for being “the intellectual”?  Not Warren. 

I am not original here.  In a similar fashion, CNN reporter Nia-Malika Henderson  noticed and comedian Trevor Noah did as well.

Again, Elizabeth Warren has written books.  Pete Buttigeig likes books.  (Admittedly, his favourite is Joyce’s Ulysses, perhaps the greatest 20th century novel.  Yes, he’s got good literary taste.)

I am not out to disparage or praise any contender for the US presidency.  Perhaps both of these candidates would make a good President, but maybe neither would. 

Buttigeig, Beto, Biden and Booker are running campaigns arguably more about them and their personal values than policy.  Warren, Harris, Klobuchar and Gillibrand are running campaigns about issues.  (Gillibrand is arguably a one-issue candidate, but at least she is about an issue.)

Yes, the previous, gendered distinction is not iron-clad. 

Sanders seems to be in the middle; it’s all about him and the issues.

Still, overall, the men run on emotional, soft values and the like whereas the women run on policy, numbers and analysis. 

So much for the “men rational and women emotional” view.  Kick that to the curb.

It also seems that 2020’s Democratic Nomination race is replaying 2008’s.  Obama ran on a vague, soft-value and feel-good approach: “yes, we can”.  Clinton ran on policy, numbers and issues.

Or consider 2016: Clinton’s policy, numbers and issues were defeated by “make America great again”.

Pretty difficult not to conclude that sexism played a colossal role in all this.  

If you want a good example of the contrast check Buttigeig’s site for what he claims to be policy and then look at Warren’s site for what she claims to be policy.

I am not saying that Warren offers good policy and that Buttigeig offers bad policy. 

Indeed, Warren has been both praised and taken to task for her policy positions.  But at least she is offering something that can be critiqued and either rejected or embraced on rational grounds. 

From what I see, Buttigeig is not even offering policy; rather, he offers goals, aspirations and a personal story of overcoming adversity—lots of which are great and interesting, but that is not policy.

With the serious issues of global warming, economic difficulties and forced migration, the world needs more facts and analysis than vague, feel-good slogans.  We, the electorate, must demand more thoughtful considerations from politicians.

The 2008 and 2020 Democratic races remind me of a Harry Potter novel.  Hermione does all the homework, answers the questions in class, in short: the keener.  But charming Harry is still the chosen one.


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