By Gallagher & Schleicher
So you’re sick of politics and ready to pick a president already? We’ve narrowed the field to four: Mike Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren. In helping you decide, we’ve picked champions as if it’s a kindergarten graduation: Everyone goes home a winner.
Medal for Inspirational Followers: We’ve found a number of Bernie Sanders followers to be inspirational in both enthusiasm and their firm belief that the world can be made a kinder, more egalitarian place for all.
Medal for Frightening Followers: This goes to some of the other Bernie supporters we have encountered who take anything but 100% adoration of Sanders to be blasphemous. Award must be shared with Trump supporters who’ll do anything he commands, defend whatever he does.
Medal for Promoting Peace Through Reducing Income Inequality: The democracy-choking levels of divisiveness and chaos in modern American politics are often rooted in an ever-widening gap between top and bottom of the economic scale. The CIA–via the Gini Index–has for years tracked such stats as predictors for which countries may see turmoil. Twin first-place medals go to Sanders and Warren for what they would do to address the problem. Bloomberg is a runner-up for promising to increase taxes on the very wealthy.
Medal for Authoritarian Tendencies: Trump places a strong first given his willingness to attack the (formerly) independent judiciary, use the Justice Department to dole out candy to co-conspirators and make unpatriotic claims that the Constitution allows him to do “whatever I want.” Second place goes to Bloomberg for Stop and Frisk, post-9/11 surveillance of mosques and the attack on Occupy Wall Street protestors while blocking press coverage of it.
Medal for Seeing the Positive Side of Potentates: Trump knows from personal experience most autocrats simply arose from a handful of minor childhood challenges (e.g., daddy issues, sociopathic narcissism, profound insecurity and an inability to tell the truth). He wins first place here for coddling everyone from Putin to Kim Jung-un to Erdogan to Duterte. No second place, but Bernie gets third for combining his condemnation of their human rights records with recognition that Latin American dictators can be very fine people when it comes to poverty-reduction and literacy programs.
Medal for Campaign Cash: First place to Bloomberg, though he may be down to $60 billion with all he’s spent of late. Trump comes in second. He may not have a billion himself, but he has plenty of wealthy friends who like his brand of socialism. Bernie places third with only a couple of million to his own name, but an impressive ability to turn small-dollar donors into meaningful reserves.
Medal for Infectious Disease Promotion: Of the four candidates, Trump is the only science-denying, conspiracy-peddling, CDC-budget-cutting, kill-the-bearer-of-bad-news candidate who is a perfect recipe for increasing panic and failing to find real cures for this or any other similar public health crisis. His first-place medal comes with a Sharpie to use in redrawing the map of how far deaths from the virus will have spread. The obverse of the medal reads, “Most Likely to Use a Virus to Excuse Imposing Martial Law.”
Medal for Climate Change Heroics: Bloomberg, Sanders and Warren will share third place. All can be expected to try, but it increasingly appears anything that waits till 2021 may be too little, too late.
Medal for Full Disclosure: Sanders and Warren share second place for releasing their taxes but summarizing medical information. Bloomberg gets third for planning to release his taxes. Trump gets runner-up for refusing to hide the fact you’ll never see his taxes, that he runs the country as a family business and that he’ll come after you if you dare to object.
Medal for Mastering of Media: First place goes to Trump for being able to entirely control the U.S. Senate via mobile app (i.e., Twitter). Second to Bloomberg for producing millions of dollars in ads and doing so with a sharp knife made frictionless with a butter coating of humor. Third to Sanders for his legion of followers who come to his defense at the slightest hint that he may not be the Messiah. Runner-up to Warren for spending three hours per event taking selfies with fans.
Medal for Being Very Mildly Like Jesus: The gospels report Jesus was widely criticized for hanging around with prostitutes, with cheating tax collectors and others often rejected by society. Trump takes first here, befriending everyone from porn stars to Russian mafia to teen-sex traffickers. Bloomberg gets honorable mention for appearing (for an unknown reason) in the Jeffrey Epstein “little black book.”
No Real Competition Prizes: Trump alone takes home trophies in categories of Most Likely to Start a Nuclear War with a Stupid Tweet; Most Likely to Pay Millions to Settle Claims of Fraud; Most Likely to Give Rise to Arguments About Whether He Suffers from Dementia; and Most Likely To Do Something Merely Because Obama Did The Opposite.
Consolation Prizes: Politicians never tire of winning, so we’ll add: Museum-Quality Hair — Trump and Sanders; Best New York Accent — Sanders, Bloomberg and Trump; Best Support from Russian Troll Farms — Trump and Sanders; Followers Most Likely to Be Offended by This Column — Trump and Sanders; Most Likely to Scare Down-Ballot Candidates of the Same Party — Trump and Sanders; Most Likely to Be Named in a #MeToo Lawsuit — Trump and Bloomberg (yeah, Mike, we know we should “Get over it”).
Medal for Potential to Win Presidency in 2020: Last but not least, this is to be shared among all four of Bloomberg, Sanders, Trump and Warren. For all those who said Trump couldn’t win or Brexit couldn’t pass, it’s past time to rule out any of these four. The final medal will be awarded by you and your fellow Americans come Nov. 3. When it comes to these candidates, our plea for those fond of democracy is to remember this: One of these things is not like the others.
David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London and tweeting at @TBoneGallagher. David Schleicher is an attorney splitting his time between Waco and D.C., blogging at ContranymTimes.com. This piece originally appeared in the February 29, 2020 Waco Tribune-Herald, where the Davids are on the Board of Contributors.