LONG SHOT

With the Democrats in Iowa now promising to release "50% of the results by 5pm EST" – which sounds exactly like something you say to a teacher or editor when you're working on a deadline you will not meet – it is becoming clear that the dominant memory from this will not be who won but simply of what a mess it was.

Someone suggested to me that declaring victory with 0% results in was a smart thing for Buttigieg to do. My initial reaction was, that is ridiculous. The winner of the caucus will *eventually* be known, and declaring yourself the winner of something you might turn out not to win would be, if not instantly fatal to a campaign, at the very least a source of continuing embarrassment. It would go down with things like Dukakis in the tank or the "Dean Scream" in the annals of ways candidates have managed to humiliate themselves.

The more I think about it, though, there might be some defensible logic to it.

Buttigieg has bet *everything* on Iowa. Everything. He isn't polling well nationally and he isn't polling well in New Hampshire or South Carolina. He isn't making an especially strong showing anywhere except in his fund raising numbers, which are good albeit not stellar, and Iowa. So, the campaign's strategy has to boil down to: win Iowa and then use 'I won Iowa!' as a springboard to get some momentum going into the next few races. Maybe improve how well you do in NH and SC even if you don't win them (it's likely, in the view of the campaigns themselves, that Sanders and Biden have NH and SC, respectively, pretty well sewn up).

What does he really have to lose? Short of winning Iowa – again, a state he threw everything into – his campaign is kinda dead in the water anyway. So I guess the bold play is to use partial data that shows him in a narrow lead to declare victory and…hope it sticks, I guess? I mean it's not a brilliant strategy, but I'm not sure what a brilliant strategy would be given the position he's in. He's not doing particularly well overall – that is, aside from Iowa. And he has statistically zero support among black voters, which is not a real good omen for a Democratic candidate.

So, in short, I think if he ends up losing (finishing anything but first) he will be a laughingstock but so what? If he finishes anything but first his campaign's strategy didn't work and he's probably toast anyway. It's some crazy shit, but why not try some crazy shit when you probably won't improve your odds to win by behaving well and sticking to the traditional script.

"Bold move, let's see if it pays off for him."

LESSONS FROM 2016

I have no objection to the possibility of Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination. But a lot of people do. Since this is all hypothetical and we haven't even gotten to Iowa yet, it feels appropriate to do a thought exercise of how to stop Sanders *if* he starts winning *and* you are of the mindset that that is a bad thing.

Sanders won NH in 2016 and figures to win it again this time. Joe Biden is likely to walk away with SC, the third contest on the calendar. Sanders currently leads in Iowa but the poll data for Iowa has been all over the place; look around and you can find any of four different candidates in a narrow lead. South Carolina notwithstanding, there will definitely be a little bit of trepidation in Never Sanders camps if he were to win Iowa and NH.

The Democrats' options in that scenario would require something they're bad at – decisive, coordinated action as a party – to avoid falling into the same trap that the Republicans fell for in 2016 when someone from outside their party came in and took the nomination. Were I being paid to give my advice, which of course I am not, here's how I'd lay out the options:

1. Do nothing. It's possible, in a Sanders winning IA and NH scenario, to write it off as a fluke from two unrepresentative states. "So what, winning Iowa doesn't mean anything." Wait and hope the Sanders campaign runs out of whatever gas it has over the past few weeks, and hope one of the other more mainstream candidates heats up and starts running off wins. This would involve two risks. One, that Sanders might keep winning. Two, that the large pool of other candidates would not split the wins in other states and allow Sanders to finish as a plurality winner of delegates, not a majority.

2. Rally to one candidate. The fundamental problem the GOP had in 2016 was that while the majority of primary voters were not voting for Trump, they could not settle on one "not Trump" from a particularly bad set of choices including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. Had the party reacted to the first couple Trump plurality wins by immediately throwing everything behind one other candidate they would have stopped him.

The Democratic Party organization would have to take the two most viable campaigns – Biden and Warren – and make a hard but final choice of which one to run with. Big donors, party elites, media personalities, and voters alike would have to come to one consensus choice. Biden would make his "electability" argument and Warren would argue that a wider swath of the party supports her. Since there is no mechanism for a party to force candidates to withdraw, the Democratic Party would have to do a thing it really dislikes doing: politics. How do you convince one to drop out? I don't know. Use your imagination. Sit everyone down, lay out the stakes, and find a way to make one of the campaigns agree to fold in exchange for something they want. Easy? No. Realistic? Barely. Possible? Yes. "Dire times call for dire reactions." Have Obama and the Clintons involved internally. Do whatever is necessary to come to a consensus, however bitter.

The other, smaller campaigns – Klobuchar, etc. – have to be told in no uncertain terms that they are personae non grata in the party if they don't take the hint and fold up after a string of losses. Give a lot of "Be a good soldier" talks and hope it sticks.

3. Mount (or keep mounting) an anti-Sanders campaign among prominent Democrats – This seems to be the current strategy and I don't think there's any evidence it's a good strategy. With an outsider candidate who defines himself as "not of the Establishment," attacks from The Establishment will help him far more than they will hurt him. I am not kidding when I say that if the party insiders want to hurt Sanders, don't have Hillary Clinton slam him; have Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer endorse him and praise him as someone who talks a fiery game but can be counted on to make compromises at crunch time. In the same way that Trump gets strength from traditional media outlets criticizing him, Sanders supporters are not people you win over by touting the endorsement of the New York Times. You're talking about a campaign, and a following, that legitimately thinks it's awesome that Barack Obama is (reportedly) uncomfortable with a Sanders candidacy.

In short, I'd recommend the second option which would be the most challenging but also the most likely to succeed in blocking a Sanders campaign that started racking up wins. The only good play is to quickly and decisively pick one alternative and unite everyone whose vote was divided among the majority "Not Sanders" enthusiasts supporting other candidates. It would take unprecedented politicking behind the scenes, and a party-first attitude from some of the candidates, to make this work. That said, grander and more challenging political bargains have been struck throughout American history, and if the Democratic mainstream really does perceive Sanders as an existential threat then insert cliches about desperate times here.

Lots of politics junkies claim to have a fondness for the old school horse-trading politics of the pre-1968 era. While primary voters will always be a wild card, the powers that be within the party have a chance to prevail upon the field of candidates that a crisis is at hand.

Personally I doubt the people in present party leadership positions (official and unofficial) have the decisiveness and forcefulness necessary to pull this off. But it is what I'd advise them to do, and were it to work it would solve the problem with far more certainty than the other options.

NICE GUYS FINISH

It is fitting that the news of Cory Booker quitting the race was completely overwhelmed by other, pettier news items on Monday. That was the story of his whole campaign after all.

I didn’t think he was going anywhere. “Impossible” is a strong word but a word that applies to someone seeking the Democratic nomination while being a big fan of charter schools and having to wear the label “Betsy DeVos’s favorite Democrat.” Unions aren’t what they used to be as a political force and there are plenty of Rahm Emanuel types among Democrats who are perfectly willing to tell them to fuck off. Teachers unions, though, are still a pretty heavy hitter. We’ve seen countless examples over the past 4 years of teachers unions, even in places like WV and OK, throw their weight around.

That said – and I certainly wasn’t going to vote for him, believe me – I’ve always had the feeling that his views on charter schools made sense in the context of his political career. Imagine spending your life seeing (up close) the state of public schools in places like Camden, Newark, and Trenton. You’d probably be ready to try just about anything to fix them, even “anything” in the form of privatization hucksters with a lot of financial backing and promises they won’t keep but sure sound pretty. You might even, at one point, think that it’s a worthwhile improvement to serve 5% of the student population and write off the other 95% if you start to believe that the current write-off rate is closer to 100%.

His candidacy also shows the ceiling to the “I’m a Nice Dude!” approach to politics. His few supporters are lamenting that he tried to run a “positive campaign” and went nowhere. Being a nice, agreeable, physically attractive, fun Dude will in fact get you very far in life, and as a US Senator it’s hard to argue that he did not indeed go very far. But going all the way to the top is another matter, because eventually you rise high enough that you get to the level at which the most ambitious, the most venal, the most wealthy, and the most driven people are your direct competition. If you’re Nice Dude and the others are bloodless, fake-smiling careerists who would literally cut your throat to get all the way to the top, you are not going to win.

Nobody should shed tears for Cory Booker – or Harris, who’s in a similar position. Both have “Senator for Life” privileges in their home states. They’re going to do just fine in life, and already have. Maybe it’s laudable that they didn’t have the kind of back-stabbing killer instinct that’s needed to succeed at the very top, or maybe it’s not useful to laud people for their inherent personality characteristics. As we are starting to see very, very clearly this week, running for President is not something you can do if your goal, and your default worldview, is to emerge from the process with everyone as friends.

THE CHORES

Invisible Women is, if not the best book of 2019, at least tied for that honor with How to Hide an Empire. Briefly, it covers many ways that excluding women from data and research (e.g., all crash test dummies used by the NHTSA are male bodies, when the mass, distribution of mass, muscle strength, and spinal physics of women are different) has created a lot of real-world problems. To finish the same example, women are far more likely to be injured in a side-impact crash compared to men in the same accident.

One of the book’s most frequently cited statistics raised some interesting ideas for me: that women do 75% of all “care” work – housekeeping, parenting, elder care, cooking, etc. Now, we could drive a bus through the methodological holes in the idea of care work (Is this self-reported? How is that validated? In what society? Now or in the past? But what about XYZ that shows men do more housework than ever?) but this is a good example of a data point where getting hung up on the precision of the figure completely misses the point.

Do women do exactly 75% of housework, and not 74%? I mean, that’s not actually important. There’s no question that, in a two-adult heterosexual household, women are doing more of this work. Whether it’s 55-45, 66-33, 75-25, or 90-10 is of considerably less interest.
One reason I think the exact figure doesn’t matter is that there’s a tremendous range of experience and domestic arrangements people have. You might be saying “My wife and I are 50-50!” right now, and maybe that’s true. In a large sample those kinds of individual differences will average out. The more interesting thing I kept coming back to as this statistic was mentioned is: how much Housework is there?

I’d be willing to bet that, looking more closely at research on the gender breakdown of domestic work there is not only a disparity between how much housework men and women do, but how much housework they think there is.

Take a hypothetical parent who tells their kid, “When you’re done with your math homework, let’s go over it together.” Another parent, the helicopter control-freak type, says “Sit down and we are doing your math homework. OK number one. No, don’t do it that way. No not like that. Here, let me show you.” The first parent spends 10 minutes and the second spends an hour. But here’s the thing: That person spent an hour because they wanted to do it that way, not because they “had to.”

Let me give you a binary example now that Question Cathy and I live together. Prior to this, I spent 10 years living alone, doing 100% of all my housework by definition. So I’m certainly not averse to housework, nor do I ever expect any of it to be done for me.

But consider laundry. Due to the way my previous career worked out, I found myself in the habit of wearing nearly every single item of clothing I own and creating an enormous, almost mountainous pile of dirty laundry that I would then take to a laundromat and do all in one big Laundry Session. I’m talking about saving up 3, sometimes 4 weeks of laundry and then cleaning everything I own in one burst.
QC prefers to do laundry every day, almost. Both of us clean our clothes, but if comparing our “systems” it is clear that hers takes vastly more human-hours of labor. I’d argue that it isn’t entirely necessary to do laundry so often – it’s a choice. What happens, of course, is that we are slowly drifting together. I am doing laundry more often, she is doing it a little less often, and we will meet at some point.

Conversely, QC prefers to do one thorough house-cleaning per week. I’m on board with that except for one thing: the floors. I *hate* dirty floors, even just a little bit dirty. The feeling of crumbs or whatever on the bottom of my feet (who wears shoes indoors all the time?) is super unpleasant. So I sweep every day, and hand-wash the hard floors probably every 3-4 days. Do I “have to” do that? I’d argue no. It’s a preference. I choose to do it, so it would be silly for me to argue “I slave over a mop for you!”

My point is simple: treating “the housework” as a defined, objective amount of labor is a mistake. All available data shows that in countries like the US, the amount of labor required at home has been steadily decreasing thanks to labor-saving devices for over a century (although some of that gain has been eaten away by increased standards of how clean things are expected to be). Whatever the amount of work is, the burden falls unequally on women. Don’t walk away from this with an impression that I doubt that for a second. I’m simply curious, in the process of trying to figure out how much of the burden falls on men versus women, the idea of “the housework” is quantified.

In my adult experience, there is a certain baseline level of work that has to be done. Beyond that, it is what you decide it should be. I haven’t had a dishwasher for a decade, and the amount of labor that created was a matter of…well, how much I was willing to live with some piled-up dishes. Had I done every dirty dish every single day, I would have had X hours per week dedicated to dishes. Instead I did like, X/2 or X/3. It was a choice, with benefits and consequences.

It is useful, I think, for people to keep this in mind. The amount of labor that parenting or housekeeping requires is always a matter, to some degree, of what you make it. “Oh, I have to drop my kids off at school and then wait in the long line to pick them up!” Really? Or do you choose to do that because you won’t let them ride the school bus? Or because you tell them it’s “too dangerous” to walk six blocks to school? Either way is fine! It’s your choice! But recognize that you’re making a choice. Some things are not optional; you have to feed your child and do laundry. But how much time you spend on those activities is…flexible. It is not in any way fixed.

What does all this mean? Nothing, really. It was just a thing that came to mind when the topic was being covered. Data is always a matter of how you quantify and conceptualize your variables, and this is an especially clear example of how hard it is to measure some nebulous concepts. If you doubt me that “How much housework needs to be done?” is subjective, go ask your kids how clean they think their rooms need to be.

RELATIONSHIP STATUS

So another war is starting, and it feels odd to write about myself while that's happening. But I feel like I owe an explanation of where I've been for the past two months.

They say ("they" always say) that if you love something you shouldn't do it for money, because eventually you will grow to hate it. I think that's a bit strong. Now that I make a living writing I don't hate writing. Far from it. It is fair to say, however, that my relationship with writing has changed. That's not necessarily a bad thing; hell, I've been doing this for 15+ years and if you don't change as a person over 15+ years that's pretty alarming.

The fact is that I'm now writing a ton, in multiple contexts and on multiple projects simultaneously. That has dampened my enthusiasm for what we might call Pleasure Writing, which is what this blog has always been. I still love it. I still have things I want to say that have no other outlet. A lot of times I simply find myself…written out, so to speak. Write for six or eight hours, then sit down and try to start writing something new from scratch and see how far you get. There are only so many sentences you can create in one day before the sentences start being forced and stop making sense.

The other issue at play, and this is an ongoing problem, is that blogging is a dead art form. Social media won. People are down to visiting all of, what, four websites? And anything that isn't channeled through that medium doesn't exist. The result is that, when I do feel "Hey I have an interesting thing to say about this!" it is no longer my first reaction to turn here and write 1000 words about it. That was my first reaction for a long time, but the way people consume information and interact with one another has changed. I can't stop that and it isn't up to me.

I've redirected a lot of my "free" time and energy to Mass for Shut-ins, since podcasts are 1) very fun, as it turns out, and 2) the more contemporary format in which people consume the kind of material, content, energy, and subject matter that was channeled into blogs back in the Aughts. Formats change. Vinyl becomes 8-track becomes cassette becomes CD becomes streaming audio. There are things that each new format adds, and things that are lost with each transition. Again, I can't exercise any control over that evolution. Instead I'm enjoying what the podcast format offers in terms of fun, content, and creative possibilities.

I also moved across the country on Nov. 1 and bought a house for the first time in my life. That transition – moving, getting used to a new place, settling in, keeping up with work – has been…time consuming. That's just a practical reality.

These points add up to a change in the way I utilize this format. I do need to get back to writing here more regularly, for the simple reason that the more I write the better. It's a muscle that requires regular exercise. I also continue to have plenty of things I'd like to write about that do not interest an editor and do not become paid pieces to run somewhere else. Some ideas are going to end up appealing mostly to me, which means the self-publishing format is the ideal outlet for them.

I don't think, given the nature of the change in the way people use the internet, that I will ever get back to posting five long pieces here every week. That era has passed, not just for me personally but for this format overall. However, I also want to do better (for myself and for you) than one sporadic piece per month. A couple times per week is a reasonable goal that shouldn't undermine my efforts in any other area – writing freelance, making a podcast, writing samples for a book proposal, etc. It's easy to make excuses not to do any additional writing, but the bottom line is that I want to and I should. Mea culpa.

Thanks for continuing to read this format, if you do. I don't want it to fall into disuse. I can't keep a format alive single-handedly, but I also do not need anyone else's permission or approval to continue to work in it when I feel the urge to do so and when it suits the point I want to make. It is, ultimately, what we make of it, and I think there is still something for us to make of it.

TOO MANY COOKS 2019

The candidacies of people like Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick (potentially) at the last moments of the pre-primary season are answers to questions nobody – and I mean nobody – was asking.

Bloomberg is a Republican billionaire trying the same thing that several other generic Rich White Guy candidates have already done, albeit with a slightly more recognizable surname. The idea that there was something the Howard Schultz or Tom Steyer campaigns couldn't do that Bloomberg somehow can is…well, it's the kind of thing that appeals to pundits desperate to apply their 2005-era Democratic Wisdom to the 2020 race (The path to victory is right down the middle!) Like Schultz, the most likely impetus behind the campaign is that Bloomberg talked to whatever Politics People he knows – fellow clueless elites, no doubt – and they realized they could milk some free money out of him if they told him it's a good idea. He has consultants who are flat-out making things up to encourage him to run, things no professional would say with a straight face and without being very handsomely paid in advance. Things like "Well, you're gonna skip the first four primaries and then win all the rest, because that's a thing that could happen."

This isn't a campaign, it's a handout to the campaign professionals with the least integrity and the best poker faces. I wonder how many election cycles it is going to take before these ultra wealthy egotists who end up getting 2% before dropping out realize that paid staffers have an incentive to tell the candidate who is paying them to continue running.

As for Patrick, the Bain Capital bigwig and former Basically a Republican Governor of Massachusetts, that anyone within the Democratic Party may have encouraged him to run is a sign of desperation. It is possible that he cooked up the idea on his own without anyone in a position of leadership or influence in The Party suggesting this, but he adds little that other candidates do not offer – candidates who are doing pretty badly, overall. He's a nicer Booker (is Booker not sufficiently Nice?) who's going to repeat the "Big business is our friend and better things aren't possible" message already being delivered by Biden, Pete, and Klobuchar.

If Patrick does have some powerful people encouraging him to do this, it's a clear sign that some people in the Democratic Party still believe that message works and they just need to find the right messenger. Imagine being two months away from 2020, being conscious for any point in the last 20 years, and believing that a guy who works for Mitt Romney's venture capital firm is the magic bullet.

MOVING SALE

I'm moving. In an effort to move the fewest boxes possible, I invite you to purchase my remaining inventory of Gin and Tacos flag/tacos t-shirts at a reduced price and with the added bonus of $1 shipping. I'd rather you enjoy them than to pack them up and drive them across the country.

These are six color crew-necks (unisex/men's as well as women's) from Canvas (Bella/Canvas women's). As many of you have noted, the women's Bella/Canvas run small so order up a size if you're unsure. Women's L is roughly the size of Men's M so it's not your imagination, they really are running small. Limited sizes available (see pull-down menu below).

Domestic/US only due to the $1 shipping. Given international shipping rates I'd be paying you to take these otherwise!


Sizes and Options




NORMALIZATION OF DEVIANCE

(the "2" in the url suggests that this is the second post I've entitled "Normalization of Deviance" which I find amusing and alarming in equal measures).

It's clear, as I have written elsewhere, that Trump senses he has screwed up harder and gotten himself in bigger trouble with this Ukraine thing than at any previous point in his presidency. It very well may work out the same as before – that is to say, with no consequences – but the sheer number of excuses they've floated trial balloons for is noteworthy. "Rick Perry told me to do it" and "I'm being set up by the CIA" are not excuses one trots out when things seem like they're going well. Someone's worried, and it stands to reason that indicates that even worse things will be revealed before long (as always).

The strategy, big picture, is the same strategy Trump has fallen back on repeatedly over the past few years, and we saw it when he answered reporters' questions by openly asking foreign governments to "investigate" Biden. He's already admitted he did it, and mountains of evidence will tumble forth confirming that he did it, so his only play is to talk about it openly to make it seem like the most normal thing in the world. "Everyone does it" and "This is just a normal part of my job" are narratives intended to normalize what he did to the point that he can bank on everyone shrugging at it like speeding or being illegally parked – it's against the law but nobody thinks it's a big deal.

That's the goal. Whether it will work is not yet clear. It has worked before, so it could work again. But there is a real reluctance on the part of a lot of Republicans to get drawn into this one so far. That might change. Right now, though, some of them appear smart enough to realize that every time Trump gets himself into these situations, the information that comes out starts with a trickle of bad news and turns into a river. If they are thinking, hell this sounds pretty bad and it's probably even worse than this, the next couple weeks could be crucial.

There's no confidence that Trump will ever face any consequences – now or ever – as he has spent his whole life avoiding them. It's not your imagination, though. This situation is different, at least in how worried it has the people who are once again going to have to defend and make excuses for this guy. If they get the sense that he won't survive this, the stampede for the exits will be on.

WHAT IS WARREN?

I've largely stayed out of discussing the many candidates vying for the Democratic nomination because, frankly, most of them are so indistinguishable that it legitimately does not matter to me which one of them comes out ahead. Mayor Pete vs. Kamala Harris vs. a cup of tap water? Who cares, you'll get the same outcome from any of them. Harris's sole saving grace as a candidate is that it would be fun to watch her yell at Trump in a debate. Her presidency would make Obama look like Trotsky, though. So I can't bring myself to care.

Warren is the one candidate I've expressed support for in the past, and the rash of Thinkpieces about her more recently just haven't been interesting. Mainstream Democrat calls her the Messiah; Leftist criticizes her for not being as Left as some people once thought she might be. It's boring.

With the understand that Biden is terrible and will be an unmitigated disaster should he win the nomination, here is my take on the other two parts of the Three Leading Candidates right now.

I like Sanders' ideas, and while I don't expect him to win anything I think he is crucially important to the Party that he hates and that hates him. Do you think every candidate is talking about Medicare for All today because of, what, Hillary Clinton? Rahm Emanuel? Sanders pulls the discourse away from the center, which is important because it has been drifting toward the center for nearly 30 years. Someone needs to remind these people that the Democratic Party used to stand for some things it no longer stands for, and that it has lost voters because of that. Now they want those voters back, but they are reluctant to listen to the guy who seems to get *how* to do that.

Warren is, in my view, at the most leftward part of the mainstream Democratic Party. She's not a Socialist, she's not some bomb-throwing would-be Independent. She's a pretty liberal Democrat, given a Democratic Party that frankly isn't very liberal at all anymore. She is, again in my opinion, about as far left as any candidate can be without having no chance to win. That's less a compliment to her than an indictment of the Democratic Party.

She has some obvious flaws, namely that harebrained DNA test thing. The best way to deal with that – here is advice she absolutely will not take – is to ignore it. Say "I responded to that back in January and I do not have anything more to add to what I said." Instead she'll probably apologize and explain endlessly, which will cause the media to press her on it repeatedly because getting a response out of a candidate makes them feel powerful.

On the plus side, she seems to have broad appeal to voters who don't care much about policy (they think she's sassy, or whatever, which is great; whatever people need to get motivated to vote I guess). She also will convert more Bernard Brothers than any other candidate. For the 10,000th time, most of them came around in 2016 and (grudgingly) voted for HRC despite what people in Facebook comment sections insist. Are you going to get all of them? Of course not. But compared to, say, Biden, she has a better chance to get them to – again, maybe grudgingly – vote for her.

Grudging doesn't matter if you're a candidate. Voters being thrilled about voting for you doesn't help. Still counts as one vote.

Warren seems like the only one of these candidates smart enough to not completely, explicitly alienate the Left by replicating the 2016 strategy of screaming at disgruntled primary voters that they were obligated to vote for the Most Qualified Candidate Ever. HRC 2016 wasn't really about anything, policy-wise. The campaign was about how bad Trump is and how great HRC is. Warren seems more likely to throw some policy bone at voters she knows she needs. Like, give them one thing you can default to when making the case; "You like _____ don't you? She's gonna do it!" may not be the best argument ever posited but it beats the hell out of "You are a racist sexist Bro, you suck and you HAVE TO vote for her." Objectively it's a better argument.

Hardly a ringing "endorsement," obviously. I've simply repeatedly lowered my expectations about politics to the point at which I recognize the gap between what I like and what is likely to happen. At least a Warren presidency would result in some low-visibility bureaucratic stuff that would be positive (reviving CFPB?) if nothing else. Won't get that out of any of the others, who all seem poised to piss away four hypothetical years on playing nice with Mitch McConnell.

Remember the instrumental nature of voting that I've talked about on my podcast a lot – this isn't an act that belongs at the top of Maslow's hierarchy. This isn't your heart and soul. It's not self-actualization. It's just a process, one in which you make the best decision you can. If you want to vote for (insert candidate), vote for him or her. Whatever. At the end of the day, though, I struggle to see any of these other candidates as someone who will do anything, anything at all, beyond keeping the seat warm and wasting four years. Maybe that's enough for you, but my rapidly plummeting expectations haven't gotten that low yet.