Neither I nor most of America was of the opinion that what the presidential field of Democrats really needed was more mediocre politicians who appeal exclusively to those huddled on the port side of the ship. In a race where the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is credibly accumulating voters on the left wing, it’s time to maybe look at contraction more than expansion.
But alas, the mediocrity keeps accumulating. According to a Thursday piece in The Atlantic, California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, whose accomplishments include, well, getting elected to the House, will announce his intention to pursue the nomination next week.
The venue? “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” because of course.
If you’ve heard of Swalwell — and I know this isn’t all or even most of you — it’s because of his stridency when it comes to gun control. He has advocated for not just banning but seizing so-called “assault weapons” and had an, um, interesting way of dealing with any possible resistance.
Responding to a tweet from former Infowars correspondent Joe Biggs (and really, so many great moments in politics begin with those words) over the possibility of a conflict if the government decided to gun-grab on a massive scale, Swalwell suggested “it would be a short war my friend. The government has nukes. Too many of them. But they’re legit. I’m sure if we talked we could find common ground to protect our families and communities.”
And it would be a short war my friend. The government has nukes. Too many of them. But they’re legit. I’m sure if we talked we could find common ground to protect our families and communities.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018
Yes, I’m sure you can talk something over and “find common ground” with someone threatening to use nukes on you unless you give up your rights. That common ground usually involves you acceding to their demands and them not using nukes against you. As an aside, if Rep. Swalwell thinks that damage done by AR-15s is bad, just wait until he discovers what fallout can do.
Swalwell passed the whole thing off as a “JK” moment, but he’s still pretty serious when it comes to taking your guns. In fact, according to The Atlantic, he plans to make it the central issue of his campaign and will likely begin his campaign with a town hall featuring a Parkland survivor, just in case you were wondering how high the demagogy level was going to be here.
“Swalwell will center his campaign on gun control,” The Atlantic noted.
“Helping him do that will be Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who became prominent in the March for Our Lives student movement.
“Swalwell has written about being inspired by the youth movement in his call to ban all assault weapons, and Kasky was his guest at the State of the Union address in February. Together, they’re organizing a town hall that Swalwell will host in Coral Springs, Florida, on Tuesday. Swalwell announced the town hall on Wednesday afternoon, but made no mention in the public announcement of his political plans.”
Of course, Swalwell won’t confirm that he’s running yet. (Gotta save that energy up for Colbert, after all.)
“We are doing a town hall in Parkland,” Swalwell told The Atlantic. “And I do believe that gun safety has to be a top 2020 issue.”
However, Shannon Watts — founder of the Michael Bloomberg-financed gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, who has recently made appearances with Swalwell — certainly sounded like he was already a candidate when asked for comment.
“It’s a true sea change in presidential politics that the candidates are competing to be the strongest on this issue, which means Americans will have a plethora of gun-sense champions to choose from,” Watts said.
“The calculus on guns has changed, and gun safety is no longer a third rail — in fact, making this issue a priority in your policy platform is how you win. Representative Swalwell has a long track record of being good on the issue of gun safety, and we welcome him to the race.”
Making this issue the only “priority in your policy platform” probably isn’t how you win, even if we’re just talking the Democrat primaries. (I’d also argue gun control is significantly less popular outside of California’s 15th Congressional District and/or the offices of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America than Watts or Swalwell might think, but that’s for voters to decide.)
Then again, the only other issue of note where Swalwell has managed to distinguish himself is Russiagate, where he’s pushed for redundant investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The congressman has twice introduced the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which sought to establish a concurrent Congressional probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election that would run alongside the special counsel’s for reasons unbeknownst to God or man.
He was also willing to get himself dug in deeper than most Democrats when it came to pronouncing the president guilty absent any investigation that said he was. In a January appearance on PBS’ “Firing Line,” Swalwell said that the president was an “agent of Russia.”
“He betrayed our country and I don’t say that lightly,” he told host Margaret Hoover.
For reasons you can probably suss out on your own, that won’t feature in his 2020 campaign.
“I’m not running on Russia,” Swalwell said, “if I were to run.” Yes, and I can imagine why.
Then again, none of this necessarily makes Swalwell a square peg in the presidential race. The only potential candidate who seemed to be moderate-ish and experienced was Joe Biden, who now faces what we’ve all become fond of euphemistically referring to as “a reckoning” involving his over-affectionateness toward women who would have just preferred a handshake.
Bernie Sanders has been a reliable second place in the polls, but no self-declared socialist has ever been a major party candidate and third-party candidates who drifted that far to the left — Jill Stein, Ralph Nader, Henry Wallace — have only garnered token support.
So what then? We have Beto and his skateboard, both of which seem to have espoused just as many concrete policy positions. Kamala Harris’ call for reparations isn’t going to going to go well with voters in the general election — assuming the fact that she was “tough on crime” as a prosecutor doesn’t doom her among Democrats. Warren also has the reparations problem, along with the fact she wants to tax American businesses back to the Stone Age and that ill-advised DNA test, which hangs over her campaign like the ghost of Pocahontas.
One assumes Pete Buttigieg’s Leslie Knope trip eventually has to peter out, although stranger things have happened and apparently being the mayor of the 301st-largest city in America now qualifies you for something. Then there’s Cory Booker’s robotic over-emoting and Amy Klobuchar’s … well, whatever. Andrew Yang’s universal basic income proposal has garnered him a fair bit of fringe support, but just don’t ask him about circumcision.
In short, yes, a four-term representative who hasn’t distinguished himself in any real way aside from saying he wants to take your guns and jokes about using nukes if you don’t comply would ordinarily be a joke. However, in a field so laughable it reads like the character list out of a Christopher Buckley novel, who knows?
Democrats have always been for disposing of our nukes and gun control. Swalwell’s plan may have been proposed in jest, but it could kill two birds with one stone. (As well as a whole lot of other people.)
It would all be hilarious — if it weren’t so serious.
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