Today is the last day of the WordPress week and I’m right on the brink of having a record number of weekly views. Sort of. The highest week I’ve had yet has been 210 and this week’s total is currently 182: I need 28 more views before midnight tonight to pull this off. I doubt it — this post isn’t going to be one to rake in views and I know it — but I’ve been praying in my own atheistic way to get some cosmic hope on my side.
I’ve said before that I’m done talking about politics here. Years ago the plan was to bitch about the most recent stupid thing Trump had done, and as an example, his handling of the coronavirus outbreak could possibly amount to ten easily written blog posts. Sadly, the thing with Trump is 1. he continually does shit to complain about and 2. everyone else is already shitting on him to a pathetic degree. Consider the countless “Twitter roasts Trump over [insert topic here]” posts and ‘news stories’ that you see shitting up social media. Good for the denizens on Twitter I guess, but these stories haven’t changed anything in the past three years and won’t change anything going forward.
So to hell with politics, at least writing about it. Lately I’ve been utterly fascinated by the Democratic primary process to an unhealthy degree. Honestly this is the reason I’m on my phone for literal hours in the morning. Most of us are aware that staring at a screen in the wee hours of the morning is a great way to fuck up your circadian rhythm, but I cannot pull myself away from my phone. Checking polls, reading Reddit comments on r/politics, pondering fivethirtyeight’s latest projections for the primary, waiting to see who Elizabeth Warren endorses, etc. The list is pretty long.
A month ago I ordered Hunter S. Thompson’s book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, a collection of his stories and reports from the Democratic primary and general election from, you guessed it, 1972. I’ve been loving the book so far. Initially I was hesitant to read it because it’s a book about politics (boring), but seeing as 2020 is an election year it sounded fitting in a way. Thompson’s writing is always so descriptive, dynamic, honest, and hilarious. if anyone could make an election interesting it would be him.
Most interesting about the book is the many parallels I see between the 1972 primary and the current 2020 primary. While things don’t mesh perfectly, the old saying is that history might not repeat itself but it does occasionally rhyme, and boy does it rhyme. In 1972 there were a handful of “safe” Democratic candidates such as Hubert Humphrey and Ed Muskie that were expected to be the nominee without any doubt; an underdog that no one actually gave a shit about, George McGovern; and good ole George Wallace from Alabama who famously stood in front of a school as black students were trying to enroll.
While 2020s George Wallace seems (thankfully) absent, the other three sound strangely familiar. McGovern sounds just like a Bernie Sanders and even seemed to share the far-left/antiwar/youth vote that Bernie commands today. McGovern won the nomination due to an impressive ground game and impassioned supporters that loved to campaign for the guy. Humphrey was the Democratic candidate in 1986, and Ed Muskie was I guess just really popular with the party. I’m thinking these are the Pete Buttigeigs and Joe Bidens of today. Sounds kinda familiar, huh?
Humphrey and Muskie commanded the “establishment” vote, most notably Thompson calls them party insiders, career politicians, and union bosses. While the union power is nearly a non-issue today, I think it has been replaced by the “big business/corporate” vote. The entire “party insider” deal sounds the exact same in 1972 as it does now in 2020. You know, candidates who want to slightly change things but not shake the boat too much.
There apparently was a large “ABM movement” — Anyone But McGovern — in 1972. As McGovern locked up delegates prior to the convention, the party insiders/bosses tried to work around actually electing him. This is clear today with most moderates and Democratic insiders flocking to Joe Biden to stop the “radical” Bernie Sanders from actually winning. This also happened in 2016 with Democratic superdelegates backing Hillary Clinton even before the primary process started. Today, as was in 1972, the party has it’s own vision of what it wants and needs to keep its power and sees some potential candidates as a threat to their interests.
This also happened famously with Donald Trump in 2016. The Republicans didn’t even want the unhinged bastard to win, but just couldn’t get their shit together long enough to back a strong Anyone But Trump candidate. Jeb!? Rubio? Fucking Ted Cruz? John Kasich? Lacking superdelegates, there was no way for them to steal the nomination from Trump. More rhyming…
We’re still early in the primary process and looking forward is foggy. I don’t know how many parallels will continue, especially since Joe Biden totally wiped Bernie on Super Tuesday last week and looks to be in a fantastic position to lock up the nomination in a few weeks. George McGovern went on to win the parties nomination despite party insider’s attempts to rob it from him. Will this happen to the 2020’s McGovern: Bernie Sanders? I don’t know. It looks bad for him going forward, but it has been a strange primary this year, and a strange year in general. I wouldn’t count out some ridiculous scenario in the Universe’s plans.
Even bleaker to think about is the fact that McGovern lost in a massive landslide to none other than Richard Fucking Nixon in November 1972. We all know what happened to Nixon after 1972 and similarities between the legal issues Trump is having (whether you think they’re justified or not) makes you wonder. I’m nervous about seeing Sanders this way if he did win the nomination; would he be another McGovern? And would we have another four years of 2020’s souped up version of Nixon: Donald Trump?
It’s a great book, check it out if you’re interested in Hunter S. Thompson, politics, and especially if you’re interested in both. Try not to be terrified at how similar everything sounds though.