Some Things Presidential Candidates Could Do Instead of Running for President

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is running for president, joining 22 other people who are running as Democrats. The majority of those people are white men. There are seven senators, three governors, and two Johns.

It is a farce and a shame, a circus of ego; man after man with politics and a policy profile almost identical to his opponents pretending that he thinks he could actually be president in order to boost his boring profile, using the opportunity of running against Donald Trump to secure a future MSNBC gig, or a corporate board appointment, or just higher speaking fees. You thought it was silly for Beto O’Rourke or Pete Buttigieg to run for president? Just wait until you meet Tim Ryan, a man with two first names and no face.

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Let’s imagine a better world in which these people were motivated by anything other than self-interest. Let’s imagine they were inclined to listen to reason, and entertain other options for occupying their time. What could they more usefully do?

1. Run for Senate.

This is an obvious one: With the 2020 Senate odds tipped towards Republicans maintaining control, Democrats need good candidates in Senate races. States like Georgia, Colorado, and Maine represent possibilities for Democratic pickups. If you actually care about getting any of your policy priorities through, you need the best possible Senate makeup you can get.

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Best candidate: Beto O’Rourke. Beto, you absolute moron, you could have kept riding the wave of national admiration for being a popular Democrat in Texas by running against John Cornyn. Instead, you’re polling “worse than ever.” Nice one.

2. Just keep doing your actual job.

Someone tell me what the dang hell is wrong with being governor of Montana? You get to live in a cool-ass Western mountain state that looks like this; you get paid $111,000, which in Montana is like being a millionaire in New York; you get to wear a cowboy hat. And what the darn tootin’ heck is wrong with being mayor of New York? Sure, everyone hates you, but no one is going to like you any more after you run for president. You get a massive house in New York City, too.

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Best candidate: Steve Bullock. You’re probably not terribly busy as governor of a sparsely populated state. You can put on a hat and pretend to be Deadwood’s Seth Bullock in an alternate universe where he goes into politics, all while drawing a salary. You have no idea how lucky you are!

3. Work on politics in your own state.

Interpret this how you wish. You could run for a statewide office in your state if you’re bored with your current job, or work on voter turnout or access, as former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum decided to do instead of running for president. You could get an initiative on the ballot to overturn weed convictions or increase the minimum wage. Anything that builds Democratic power in the states, where it has wasted away for years, is a better use of your time than going on Morning Joe.

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Best candidate: Pete Buttigieg. The minimum wage in Indiana is still only $7.25. Go do something useful.

4. Non-profit do-gooding.

There are literally thousands of Good Organizations doing Good Work that you could join. You could join an organization that provides legal support at the border, or an abortion fund in Alabama; imagine the profile and financial boost you could give to an organization like that. Or, if you don’t care about actual results, you could pickle yourself in a think tank in DC and just get those checks. If you’re John Hickenlooper or one of the other centrists, I bet you could convince Third Way to throw you six figures a year to say the same shit about leadership you’re saying to bored voters in Iowa.

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Best candidate: Amy Klobuchar. Can’t you just see her as the president of a think tank called something like The Mondale Center for Partnership and Solutions? Anything to keep her away from her staff.

5. Become an influencer.

Look, maybe “policy” isn’t for you. Maybe you just love the limelight, and that’s why your life has been building towards running for president. But that’s an outdated notion of what the pinnacle of American achievement is. In 2019, you can command hundreds of thousands of followers on social media for opening boxes of makeup or spouting off on what the haters are saying. You can have an army of fans, endorsement deals, and millions of people hooked on your every Post. Look inside your heart; you know this is what you truly desire.

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Best candidate: Eric Swalwell. He’s Californian; it’s in his blood.

6. Twitch streaming.

People will pay to watch you play video games now. Fortnite is free. It’s a no-brainer.

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Best candidate: Tulsi Gabbard. Guaranteed hit.

7. Pet rescue.

Most of these candidates have pretty decent personal wealth. Certainly, being a nationally known politician opens financial doors that, say, being a blogger doesn’t. If money were no object, I know what I would do: Get super into rescuing cats. You could rescue dogs, or chickens, or alligators, or whatever you like. It’s not an easy job by any stretch, but it is extremely rewarding, people would love you for it, and you get to snuggle kittens and puppies.

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Best candidate: Cory Booker. He already did it once!

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About the author

Libby Watson

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com