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2020 Presidential Candidates, RANKED by How COOL/CHIC/FETCH You are for Having a BUMPER STICKER Supporting That Candidate in Saint Paul, MN
This is the 2020 sequel to Unflattering Assessments of 2016 Presidential Candidates. I realized today that I need to get these in before candidates start dropping out like flies. I admit I am not as mean this year, but only because I refuse to devote enough mental resources to learning about "Jay Hickenlooper" and "Derek Stallwell" or whatever to render a sufficiently devastating judgment upon them.
#SMOD2020: "Just end it already."
This post was written because my family was leaving the New Bohemia in downtown Saint Paul when we passed a car with a "BETO 2020" bumper sticker on it. I pointed and laughed. My wife, who wisely does not follow politics and had no idea who "Beto" was, asked why I was laughing, and I explained that Beto stopped being cool the moment he lost to Ted Cruz. Anyone with a bumper sticker for him must either not care about coolness or be hilariously out-of-touch.
So, my wife asked, reasonably: what presidential candidates have bumper stickers that cool people put on their cars?
Remember: this isn't a list of how cool each candidate is. This is a list of how cool each candidate's supporters are, specifically in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Plenty of uncool candidates have cool supporters and vice versa.
1. Amy Klobuchar - she wins ONLY in Minnesota, but oh boy does she win Minnesota, Nearly everyone in Minnesota, of both sexes, including Republicans, has an irrational love of Amy, to the point where I suspect witchcraft. She's a solid-left Democrat and workplace abuser who has somehow fooled half the state's Republican voters into thinking she's a nice young lady and reasonable advocate for their interests. (My mother blames Amy's dad.) So it's not edgy-cool to have an Amy bumper sticker in downtown St. Paul. But cool people are gonna be like, "Hey, I love Amy, that guy's cool."
2. Pete Buttigieg - hot stuff right now, which is bizarre for me, since I've followed his career since he was just some jerk, long before it occurred to me he could be President. Could stay that way because gay dudes are cool (and it turns out he's gay? I never realized), but more likely Mayor Pete is the New Beto and will soon end up with Beto down at #25.
3. Bernie Sanders - no shock to see him way up here at the cool kids' table after a remarkably strong 2016 run that earned accolades from the coolest people alive (dumb college students), but his stock is falling fast. He used to be the only progressive and, more importantly, the only alternative to Hillary. Now there's tons of alternatives, and the great majority of them are progressives. When Sanders stands next to people who have actual charisma, he is much more obviously an old man ranting at a cloud.
4. Elizabeth Warren - her star is on the rise. She's already the "cool kids' Bernie Sanders," and she will likely eclipse him in mere days, if she hasn't already. I mean, hey, as I said to a friend the other day, "If we could have a president solely for antitrust law, I'd vote for her in a heartbeat."
5. Marianne Williamson - before the debate, I had Marianne way down at #13, rounding out the "obvious protest candidate" tier of coolness. But her debate performance was... extraordinary. Why not give her a dollar to keep her in the race? Be warned, though: "donating to amusing debaters" is exactly what certain Democrats did in 2016... with Donald Trump. So be sure you're okay with the idea of President Williamson before donating.
6. Justin Amash - though not very cool in himself, you get access to several different cachets of coolness points when you put his bumper sticker on your car: the "ex-Ron Paul supporter" coolness points, the "I'm voting third-party" coolness points, the "I've committed to a candidate who's not even running yet" coolness points, the "partisans on both sides really hate this guy right now" coolness points, and the (admittedly almost completely unimportant) "this guy explains all his Congressional roll-call votes really carefully and rationally on Facebook and he is honest with his constituents and does good constituent services so he might be our first good president in decades" coolness points. All these different elements of coolness in a town that liked Ron Paul quite a bit adds up to a sixth place finish.
7. Tulsi Gabbard - Gabbard has an ineffably cool aura, but she is still somehow obscure enough that anyone who knows enough about her to endorse her for president gets coolness bonus points on top of that. However, warning: once she gets some mainstream scrutiny, that ineffability may fade and leave Rep. Gabbard in a Kamala Harris (#12) situation.
8. Mike Gravel - though a U.S. Senator, he cusses on Twitter [search "from:MikeGravel fuck"]. This, I am told, is very cool.
9. Joe Biden - it's always somewhat cool to back the winning horse
10. Steven Bullock - Montana is cool. Simple, inarguable fact.
11. Andrew Yang - it's weird how most businesspeople are coolness kryptonite, but a few of them are beloved cool dudes. Yang is... kinda in the middle.
12. Kamala Harris - should have more suction but the hardline progressives have a (kinda irrational, imho) beef with her, and progressives are the heart of bohemians and bohemians determine what's cool, so... sorry, Kamala
13. Bill de Blasio - de Blasio is so aggressively and violently hated by literally everyone in both parties that it shows major cojones to put a bumper sticker for him on your car in St. Paul, MN.
15. Michael Bennet - Colorado is not as cool as Montana.
16. Seth Moulton - yeah, the Marines are a little cool.
17. Wayne Messam - Wayne himself? Not that cool. But you gotta admire his supporters just for knowing so much about Wayne's record of success in Miramar, Florida.
18. John Delaney - now well into "wow, man, never heard of him but you do you" territory here
19. Eric Swalwell - I can remember literally nothing about this person except that he is in Congress and that I have seen his name many times for vague reasons.
[EDIT: Swalwell dropped out before this piece went to press. I will now always remember him with the thought, "Swalwell that ends well," since James Taranto apparently didn't think he rated a bye-ku.]
20. Bill Weld - all a Bill Weld bumper sticker advertises is that you share the basic moral outlook of white liberals but are too much of a coward to stop voting for Republicans. It's an apology, not an advertisement.
21. Tim Ryan - no other candidate's headshot has EVER spontaneously made the phrase "blindingly white" pop into my head
22. John Hickenlooper - okay, Colorado, Bennet was fine but let's not go crazy here
23. Cory Booker - like Beto, he was cool until he wasn't. But his moment came and went years ago and Cory never noticed
24. Donald Trump - if more Republicans hated him, he could be like Bill de Blasio, his supporters becoming cool by standing by someone so unpopular. But instead he's just polarizing, and this is St. Paul, so your oppositional defiance is not that cool here.
25. Beto O'Rourke - y'know, looking at his record again, I thought, "Beto really SHOULD be cooler, and it isn't fair that he's on the outs with the cool crowd right now." But then I looked at his hair again and recanted.
26. Kirsten Gillibrand - a white New Yorker political chameleon, much like Hillary Clinton, but somehow less beloved. She has supporters, but they are all cold-eyed, flint-hearted pragmatists of anti-coolness. She is the least cool candidate to support.