For as long as I can remember, there have been rock bands. Beatles and Stones and Monkees, oh my. Some grew somewhat organically out of key associations—Jagger/Richards, Lennon/McCartney—that began when band members were in their teens. The Monkees’ origination, on the other hand, was totally synthetic and straight out of Hollywood.
Usually, the bands boiled down to four guys—one on drums, with the rest playing guitar, keyboards, or (in the case of Davy Jones) tambourine. And as their celebrity increased, audience members would often pick their favorite.
And so it is today that the race for the Democratic nomination is looking like the forming of a quasi rock band. Beto, Bernie, Biden, and Buttigieg. Let’s torture this musical analogy and call them the B-Flats.
Clearly, as the frontrunner, Biden will be cast as lead singer, which seems appropriate since he is only a few months older than Mick Jagger. Bernie is on drums, in keeping with his penchant for endlessly hitting things with a stick. Beto, who actually was in a rock band, clearly was made to play dreamy-eyed guitar, holding it low on that lanky frame, while the girls (and some gay boys) swoon.
But what about Buttigieg? Well, despite the fact that he’s gay, I just don’t see him as being cool enough to be in a rock band. He probably would be more comfortable playing Brian Epstein in our little vignette.
In that case, Buttigieg might act as manager and flesh out a fourth “B” to fill that vacancy. But after passing on Booker (he’s probably going to need to get used to that), we’ll stick with a group that, at least numerically, is more Bee Gees than Beatles.
Now, if you haven’t passed out from all that testosterone, there is a second stage where the metaphorical Bangles are playing. Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, and Warren may not (may not?) be receiving all the attention that the B-Flats are getting, but they have at least three things in common. They’re all current female Senators, they’re all used to working twice as hard to get half as much (which is kind of the definition of being a woman in the first place), and not one of them has ever lost a campaign. The last being something not one of the B-Flats can claim.
Even though it is still early in this process, Democrats are looking at the candidates for their policy positions, which will prove to be an academic exercise if the election is lost. The authenticity of the individual politicians is being evaluated, as if “authentic politician” isn’t one of the all-time great oxymorons. And while electability is a valid factor in political calculations involving a homogeneous candidate pool (like all straight white guys), it can easily become something rather insidious when used to examine a diverse group.
At this stage in the game, it seems one of these candidates is going to need to break out like a true rock star for the Democrats to have a realistic chance of winning in 2020. Someone is going to need to work the crowd like Mick Jagger in a pair of skinny jeans.
If that someone looks more like Joan Jett, so much the better.