So, Cory Booker dropped out of the race today. And comparing him to the other former frontrunners that have called it quits, I feel like I’m seeing a pattern on the other side of the aisle.
Everyone’s talked about how far left the Democratic Party has moved — and that’s a valid observation. But I think perceived authenticity and likability will prove a greater obstacle for the Democrats than policy itself.
If you know anything about me you know that I love, love, love Ted Cruz. I gave up my winter break senior year to knock on doors for him in rural New Hampshire in the dead of December and January, and wanted to drop out of school to work for him full time, but my mom wasn’t having it.
To me, Ted Cruz was the clear choice because unlike so many others on those debate stages — including Trump himself — he actually had the record to back up his claims.
He wasn’t afraid to go against the grain or stand up for what he believed in even if it was unpopular, and that’s what I loved about him. I thought he was the only person that could really be trusted to keep their word in Washington, and maintain their integrity under pressure from both parties. And in addition to running the smartest campaign, I think that’s why he lasted so long. People that were prioritizing substance over spicy tweets or charming smiles knew he was the real deal.
But people just don’t like Ted Cruz. He’s brilliant and usually right, but he struggles connecting with voters — especially when compared to a candidate like Trump. Before anything, Trump is an entertainer. He knows how to make people smile, he knows how to make people laugh, he knows how to make people listen. It was something that drove me crazy on the campaign trail. I can’t tell you how many people liked Trump and Cruz, but were voting for Trump in the primaries even though they agreed with Ted on the issues because Trump “told it like it was.”
Even when I was campaigning against Trump, I thought he was hilarious. None of the polished politicians in the Republican primary could rival his presence, and I don’t think any of the Democrats will be able to this year either.
Trump 1000% flip flopped on the campaign trail. But that didn’t matter to voters. What mattered was that he didn’t have to pull hot sauce out of his bag, or put on a phony accent in the midwest, or make up stories about a fisherman he met, or dance with Lizzo, or tweet Beyonce lyrics. His personality was 1000% consistent. He was obnoxious. He was bombastic. And no matter what he said, the way he said it convinced voters to take a chance on him.
Maybe Joe Biden had that ability, but he’s literally senile, and I really don’t think his former vice presidency is going to be able to carry him that much longer. Bernie and Yang could arguably pull that off. Maybe Beto could have if he hadn’t fallen short elsewhere. But Warren, Buttigieg, and Kobluchar sure as hell don’t — and Gillibrand, Harris and Booker sure as hell didn’t.
People keep scapegoating sexism and racism for failed Democratic hopefuls, but I can’t help but think it has more to do with disposition than demographics.
If you had a random audiobook narrator reading tweets and talking points from most of the Dem candidates, you wouldn’t be able to tell most of them apart. That’s not because the Left is a unified front. There’s little more uniting them than a rejection of Trump — and candidates are quickly learning that that’s not enough to get them to the finish line.
The reason you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart is because the majority of them are spewing the same generic political platitudes, and don’t have distinguished personalities or voices outside of what consultants tell them to do and say. It doesn’t feel like they’re speaking from truth or experience. It feels rehearsed and it feels robotic. And unless the Democrats nominate one of the few exceptions to that rule, I think we’ll be looking forward to another Trump term — and I’m not mad about it.