A layman's guide to the 2020 clown car (Vol. 1)

How many Democrats does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


Thirty. One to hold the ladder, two to get it fastened, two more to excoriate the building owner and his electrician for failing to install a Green New Deal compliant LED rig, and the remaining 25 to stand on the stage and announce that they’re running for president!


In 2016, the Republican field made for an easy target, in no small part due to the sheer number of candidates (17? 20? 300?) and the spectacle of a businessman best known for hosting “The Apprentice” violently stomping all over a cadre of polished career politicos, but now, we get to apply the ‘Clown Car’ moniker to the other side of the aisle. Despite what the respectable pundit class tastemakers may tell you, there are plenty of Krusties in the Democratic heap, from bipartisan Blue Dogs to Johnny Come Lately True Progressives™. This kooky gang of rascals will have you hootin’ and hollerin’ all the way up to the 2020 convention!


(Editor’s note: John Kasich, Evan McMullin or some retired CIA agent may still attempt to challenge Trump in the GOP primary, but we’re not going to take them seriously. It’s Donald’s party now, and barring impeachment or a bombshell that actually causes him to feel shame, he’ll be on the ballot in 2020.)


The Contenders

Former Vice President/Senator Joe Biden- Broadway Joe, famous for his hilarious portrayal in ‘Onion’ articles during the Obama presidency and representing the state where companies incorporate to avoid taxes, is the odds on Democratic favorite if the primary were to be held today for reasons not really clear to anyone.


Like a longtime backup quarterback in the NFL, he’s one of those guys who’s gained establishment respect mainly for being in Washington, D.C. forever and refusing to leave. I have a creeping feeling that a host of #MeToo stories will surface should he stay at the front of the pack for long, but maybe I’m just basing that on the weird backrubs he gives during public appearances.


Strengths- Everyone knows him, tons of money behind him, projects a blue collar aesthetic (however superficial it may be), may have appeal in Rust Belt states the Dems infamously surrendered in 2016.


Weaknesses- Has voted for a ton of industry handout bills over the years, supported ‘tough on crime’ legislation in the ‘90s, is a Washington swamp creature whose views change with the wind.


Will he run? Yeah, he will. Everyone’s telling him it’s his time. Of the so-called “centrist” Democrats, he probably has the most widespread appeal.



Senator Bernie Sanders- A true political outsider, Sanders, who’s an independent in the Senate and proudly wears the ‘socialist’ tag, nearly derailed the crowning of Queen Hillary in 2016, but then another brash Northeasterner with an unconventional platform finished the job that November.


He’s led the way on most of the issues that are now ingrained into the left wing orthodoxy ($15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, free college and drug decriminalization), and he hasn’t been forced to offer wishy-washy explanations for why he supported Central American death squads or gay conversion therapy until 2006. There are a few benefits to actually having a backbone and standing up for what you believe. Attracting big time donor money/party boss support, however, certainly isn’t among them.


Like Eugene Debs and Henry Wallace before him, Sanders will be peppered with accusations that he’s a Soviet sympathizer (which, by all accounts, he was), and he’ll have work to do if he hopes to assuage questions—in good faith or otherwise—of his commitment to racial justice as he attempts to grow his coalition beyond the stereotypical “Bernie Bro.”


Strengths- Consistent views, widespread name recognition, ability to take on Trump in the aforementioned blue-collar areas and actually present a message that resonates with the poor and working classes the Democrats are supposed to represent.


Weaknesses- Socialist moniker, cost of policy proposals, age, Marquis de Sade inspired writings from the 1970s, intersectional view that an old white man can’t possibly advocate for the goals of an increasingly diverse base, not as hot as Beto.


Will he run? Yes. He’s in, and the knives are already out between Grandpa Bernard and the establishment figureheads who worked for Hillary the last time around (They’re #StillWithHer). I fear that we’re doomed to relive 2016 in perpetuity, or at least until the rest of the glaciers melt and make the planet completely uninhabitable. We’ve got a bright future ahead of us, folks!



Senator Kamala Harris- She’s running. The Senator and former Attorney General of California instantly catapulted herself into the conversation last week when she officially announced on Twitter, and, on paper at least, she’s got the ‘It’ factor.


Harris is youngish, a woman, a minority and an experienced politician who held high posts in one of the most progressive states in the union. But therein lies the issue: there’s never a perfect candidate, and she’s already descending into the abyss of cringe-inducing Hillary 2016 PR stunts (just chilling in Cedar Rapids!) with all of the self-awareness of Curly Howard.


Oh, and she smoked weed to Snoop Dogg and Tupac in the ‘80s—never mind that their music came out in the ‘90s. That’s cool, right? Just admit you’re a nerd, Kamala. Good riddance. 


Strengths- Obama/Clinton-ish, decent public speaker, I don’t know, she just looks like a Democratic presidential nominee.


Weaknesses- “Tough on crime” policies as California AG/cop reputation, lame Cardi B dancing videos, mind-numbingly robotic personality.


Will she run? Yes. She already announced it. Don’t you read?



Beto- Like Cher or Bono, the star of the 2018 election cycle (who still lost a Senate race to human punching bag Ted Cruz) has already cemented himself in the one-name category, and he’s battling out with Harris for the right to claim the prestigious title of “the next Obama.”


He’d be the first Democratic president from Texas since LBJ, and like his predecessor, Beto is known at once as a progressive hero and a heretic turncoat over some bills he voted with Republicans on—although, nothing he’s done registers on the level of the Civil Rights Act or Vietnam. He’s got the professional media class fired up over a few articles questioning his left flank bona fides, and he live streamed a dental cleaning. He wants this thing way too much.


Also, he’s white but goes by a Latino nickname. You will hear this repeated at least five million more times.


Strengths- Looks, youth, used to be in a band, knows how to skateboard.


Weaknesses- Drunk driving arrest, lost to Ted Cruz, thin legislative record, would be called “Beta” and “Fredo” by trolls, lacks deep (or any) knowledge of issues.


Will he run? Yes, once he’s done rocking out at Metallica concerts. He’s currently unemployed and needs a job. Might as well shoot for the moon!


Stay tuned for future installments like “The Middle of the Pack,” “The Afterthoughts” and “Wait a minute, who?” In the meantime, watch anything but the news if you value your sanity.