“Am I real?”
“Do I exist?”
“Do you see the real me?”
Humans have always asked themselves these existential questions. These days, Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. have more reason to wonder about their corporeal status than most.
Earlier this week, because I felt that I deserved to suffer, I tuned into a political horse-race discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Why, host Joe Scarborough wondered aloud about Joe Biden’s oxymoronic announcement that’s he’s not announcing (“I plan on running, Al, but we’re not prepared to announce it yet”), isn’t the President actually, you know, announcing that he’s running for reelection? The April the year before the election ere, ’tis the season for such communiqués.
Front and center in Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski’s speculation was that Biden wouldn’t have any pesky primaries to deal with before the general election; thus he can take his time before declaring. This would come as news to Williamson and Kennedy, both of whom have formally declared their candidacies for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination and have filed the requisite paperwork.
Given how early in the race it is, Biden’s rivals already pose a surprisingly significant threat to the incumbent: 10% of Democrats say they’ll vote for Kennedy, 4% for Williamson in a Morning Consult poll. Kennedy does even better among some key demographics: women and voters over 65, both of whom turn out in heavy numbers. An Echelon Insights poll shows Williamson surging, now at 10%.
When I sat down with Bernie Sanders to research my bestselling graphic biography, it was June 2015–two months later in the race—and the Vermont senator was polling 1% to 2% of Democrats. Yet he went on to nearly defeat establishment favorite Hillary Clinton; he might have succeeded if not for the DNC putting their corrupt thumbs on the scale. At this stage, 10% each for Kennedy and Williamson is impressive.
Kennedy is political royalty and Williamson is a well-known author and previous Democratic primary candidate. Yet media outlets like MSNBC are lying to their viewers, pretending that they don’t exist and that Biden is running (or might run) unopposed. Resistance is futile. Get used to it.
Unpersoning is the latest tactic of the Democratic Party establishment and their media allies, including MSNBC. If you don’t admit to the existence of a rival candidate, then you certainly don’t have to cover them or their campaign — so voters will never learn about that alternative option. They’re not real, therefore they’re not serious, therefore they don’t get any votes, therefore they’re not serious, therefore they’re not real.
Beautiful, infantile, effective.
Bear in mind: Scarborough didn’t say Biden wouldn’t face a serious primary challenge (which, in any case, is far from certain based on those polls, and Biden’s own poor ratings.) That would be subjective. Scarborough said there wouldn’t be any primary whatsoever, which is plainly untrue.
But this, as you probably know, is nothing new. Bernie received terribly unfair news media coverage—and in such small portions!—when he ran in 2016 and 2020. My favorite moment was MSNBC’s Chris Matthews comparing Sanders’ candidacy to the Nazi invasion of France.
John Edwards, the progressive candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries, suffered the same phenomenon. USA Today’s dismissal of Edwards was typical: “The Democratic contest is a two-person race, dominated by Clinton and Obama. That leaves Edwards, a former North Carolina senator who is a close third, and Richardson, New Mexico’s governor who is a distant fourth, waiting for a stumble or a political earthquake to create an opening for them.” How can it be “a two-person race” if there’s a “close third”?
In 2004 the media piñata was another progressive with anti-corporate message, Howard Dean.
Basic pattern recognition indicates the evolution of an increasingly aggressive approach toward erasing political challenges to the corporate establishment. A quarter century or so ago, third-party candidates like Ralph Nader were routinely ignored, starved of press coverage and threatened with arrest when they tried to attend a presidential candidate as an audience member. Candidates Dean, Edwards and Sanders were insulted (angry yeller, lightweight pretty boy, cranky old commie) and subjected to DNC skullduggery intended to marginalize them.
The unpersonings of Williamson and RFK Jr. elevate old-school shading to the level of Orwell: No one has ever opposed Joe Biden. No one will oppose Joe Biden. Joe Biden will run unopposed—especially when he is opposed.
(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)
Yeah just another example of how we are not really a democracy.
Late comment, but this was MSNBC, the “Corporate Democrat” news channel. They will pretend the moderate, pro-business Dem candidate is the only one until the minute the others do far better, then “it’s a horse race.” It’s all nonsense, but this is the corporate Orwellian way we do things in America.
“Earlier this week, because I felt that I deserved to suffer, I tuned into […] ‘Morning Joe.’” Jesus, Ted. There’s suffering and then there’s suffering. I mean, maybe if you were Hitler, “Morning Joe” would be appropriate.
Remember how the Whigs collapsed? The candidates just got weaker and weaker. Look at the dems. It’s a straight line down. Whether it’s Clinton’s NAFTA scheme to enrich the upper .01% or Obama sitting on his hands with a 60-seat Senate (I’m sure the call he got from his controllers was a model of terseness) or Joe Biden making sure the same students he trapped in a cycle of unbreakable poverty are STILL not being allowed the same relief every single solitary other form of debt someone can accrue is permitted?
Kamala Harris would fit the crucial criterion of being even worse than Joe Biden. But there’s a lot of others who’d fit that bill: Pete Buttigieg looks pretty clueless, Dianne Feinstein would be almost comically inept, as would Nancy Pelosi (who had sufficient cunning to jump ship before it sank). Perhaps the guy who lost to George Santos. I suspect Hillary’s sitting by the phone, waiting for the call. I think it would be a wonderfully perfect blend of kismet, irony, stupidity, and woodenheadedness if, somehow, enough insane people in charge of things at the dnc (I know, I repeat myself) got Clinton running again.