If you’re someone who’s polling outside of the top six or so of the Democratic Party’s 600-candidate presidential primary, it’s understandably a little difficult to get some airtime, so your message can break through to the masses.
On Saturday, two white men named John—Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado, and Delaney, rich guy former congressman from Maryland—spoke at the state convention of the California Democratic Party, a group which declined to endorse longtime centrist Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bid for a sixth term last year, and whose leadership ultimately endorsed her challenger. Here, the Johns attempted to neg progressive Democrats into supporting them by telling them all of their ideas are bad. Rather predictably, this did not go well.
Delaney took his time at the convention to bash Medicare for All, calling it neither “good politics nor good policy.” He was rewarded by being booed for a full minute by hundreds of people while shaking his head and smiling awkwardly:
Hickenlooper, meanwhile, just went for all of it, attacking socialism, the Green New Deal, and Medicare for All in one speech.
There’s two different possibilities here, and it’s unclear which one is more pathetic.
The first is that Hickenlooper and Delaney went to this convention specifically to get booed, in order to get more attention from the media for their struggling campaigns. (Hickenlooper acknowledged that his message might not be popular in an interview with Politico before his speech.) The media absolutely loves a Democrat who sticks it to the left, and Jennifer Rubin’s glowing column about Michael Bennet simply because he isn’t Bernie Sanders is probably not going to be the last one about no-name centrists in the primary who go hard after the likes of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone used getting booed at the California Democratic Party convention to their advantage, either; Feinstein used a clip of herself getting booed at the 1990 convention for her support of the death penalty in a campaign ad that year. Notably, Joe Biden—who’s completely drowning out every other moderate in the race right now—skipped this year’s convention, a tacit acknowledgment that it probably would’ve gone just as poorly as it did for Hickenlooper and Delaney.
The other possibility is that Delaney and Hickenlooper actually expected to get cheers at this convention for bashing single-payer healthcare and socialism. This might sound ridiculous, considering after all that the people spending their weekend at a state Democratic Party convention are its most diehard activists (not to mention the CDP’s particular reputation). But some of these people, such as Hickenlooper, Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, and others, actually seem to believe that telling “hard truths” is something that voters respect and like in candidates. That’s never really been the case; even Bill Clinton dressed up his Reaganism-lite as a bold new idea.
It’s difficult to tell which scenario is more pathetic. Either way, though, these guys are going to drop out and endorse Joe Biden sooner or later, so you’re forgiven for not paying any attention now.