The Shadow Endorsement


President Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg leaned against the Resolute Desk and thought long and hard about that Saturday twelve years ago. The night before Super Tuesday in 2020 — the night Barack Obama told him to drop out of the race for the Democratic Nomination. It was a shadow endorsement from the former President, a man unwilling to openly endorse any particular primary candidate, yet dedicated to preserving the status quo of the party. Even if it meant losing the general election.

“Uh look, Pete,” Obama explained, “you’re still a young man. Your time has not yet come, but it will. I need you, the party needs you to step aside and let Joe take this on.”

“I understand Mr. President.”

“The center must hold Pete,” the former President misquoted Yeates.

The words sparked a memory of an essay Pete had written 20 years before.

Politicians are rushing for the center, careful not to stick their necks out on issues 

“I hate to say it Pete, but the country isn’t as liberal as Bernie, or even you or I.”

Most Democrats shy away from the word ‘liberal’ like a horrid accusation.

“You still there Pete?”

“Yes Mr. President.”

“So you’ll call Joe?”

“Right now Mr. President.”

As he hung up the phone, more of his own words rushed to mind. Words he had written about Bernie Sanders, the man he had called “divisive” a few days earlier. The man whose political obituary he may have just written.

I commend Bernie Sanders for giving me an answer to those who say American young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption. I have heard that no sensible young person today would want to give his or her life to public service. I can personally assure you this is untrue.

Mayor Pete wondered if he had just betrayed his own words, or upheld them.

Twelve years later, President Pete sat back down at the Resolute Desk. There were two bills sitting on it. One for free public colleges, another for medicare for all. Next to them was a speech explaining why he would veto them both.

 The President straightened his tie and stood as the press corp invaded the Oval Office.

“Mr. President! Mr. President!” the Greek Chorus of the Fourth Column called out that beautiful constitutional moniker, that final line on his storied curriculum vitae.

President Pete wrapped his heart in the word like a flag as he fought back tears.

The election of 2020 was the most brutal in living memory. The Proud Boys clashed with Antifa on the tear-gas fogged steps of the nation’s state houses as two geriatric baby boomers publicly sundowned in an unprecedented display of vitriolic incoherence. With all the allegations of election interference, voter suppression and outright fraud, historians are still arguing over who really “won” the election that year. A winner was called on election night, but the opposing candidate contested the results in several states, the outcomes of which were ultimately decided at the courthouse. When the “winner” finally raised his hand to take the oath of office the following January, Lady Liberty was still nursing the bruising black eye of that fatal November battle.

The Proud Boys clashed with Antifa on the tear-gas fogged steps of the nation’s state houses as two geriatric baby boomers publicly sundowned in an unprecedented display of vitriolic incoherence.

It’s hard to say when that great, lumbering silent majority of complacent moderates coalesced around the Democratic party as the GOP surveyed the scorched landscape the most corrupt President in American history had left them. But Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg always thought it was the morning of Mitch McConnell’s funeral. Seated next to Texas Governor Beto O’Rourke, then Senate Majority Leader Buttigieg noticed how empty the church was. Many of the late Majority Leader’s friends and colleagues had already taken the long and winding road to meet their maker. Others stayed home, hoping to forget the damage the man had done to the world’s greatest deliberative body.

Former President Donald Trump was golfing in Mar a Lago.

“Great guy, terrific,” was all he said.

As the proceedings came to a close, Senator Buttigieg unexpectedly walked to the dais and delivered an impromptu speech.

“Senator McConnell and I were ships that passed in the night,” he explained, “a handing of the torch between generations. But I’ll never forget the words he told me on the day of my inauguration. ‘Everything I’ve done has been for my country,’ he told me, ‘and I trust that everything you’ll do will be for the same.’ I think of my friends of different faiths every time I remember that conversation. We pray in different houses of worship, with different books in our hands, often speaking different languages. But we all pray to the same God. I have led in another direction than Senator McConnell did. But we both led the same nation, the United States of America. God bless her and God bless the soul of Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr.”

Secretary of Labor Occasio-Cortez called Senator Buttigieg a traitor to the working class and people of color. The Democratic party carried Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg to the convention on their shoulders that year and selected him as their nominee for President.

He worked with young, moderate Republicans to pass clean energy bills and universal background checks. He patched up Obamacare and kept it on life support as Trump court appointees waged war against it. He compromised with advocates of tuition free public universities to fund free “Coding Colleges.” Previously sought-after skills became commonplace, deflating the wages of young people looking to enter the tech industry. The vast swaths of citizens encouraged to “learn new career skills” slumped into a new category of working poor. The 1% retained their grip on the majority of wealth while the rest continued to take on the majority of debt. But the stock market remained stable and exports stayed strong. Thanks to his tax compromise with the GOP, a diverse coalition of voters clawed themselves into the middle class and formed a moderate Democratic firewall to last a generation. But it was President Pete’s foreign policy that won him a landslide victory in his re-election bid.

When Iranian hackers brought down half of the electricity grid on the Eastern Seaboard, President Pete marshaled the support of his former colleagues in the Senate to beat the drums of war. After the fall of Tehran, the United Nations supported his plan to move Palestinian citizens to “land reservations” in occupied Iranian territory. The American media applauded President Pete for finally bringing “Peace” to the Middle East. His only primary rival for the Presidential nomination, Rashida Tlaib, called it the “Silk Trail of Tears.”

His only primary rival for the Presidential nomination, Rashida Tlaib, called it the “Silk Trail of Tears.” 

Pete Buttigieg’s most vivid memory of receiving the Nobel Peace prize was the sight of protestors in Oslo flinging rotten pomegranates at his motorcade chanting “Pax Americana.” As he stepped to the podium to receive his prize, he remembered Bernie Sanders’ speech at the 2020 Democratic Convention in Milwaukee.

“Our multi-generational, multi-racial coalition does not disband tonight. Our vision for a better future does not fade. Our fight against income inequality does not end. Tonight it begins anew.” 

President Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg likes to think he made that vision come true. But in his darkest moments, he knows that his America is a broken mirror of that vision espoused by the man who convinced him to get into politics in the first place. He wonders what would have happened if he had told President Obama “no” that Saturday before Super Tuesday. If he had stayed in the fight or joined Bernie Sanders in his. If Bernie Sanders had become President.

“Mr. President! Mr. President!” the reporters roused Pete Buttigieg from his revery.

“Yes, Ms. Fontaine,” Pete pointed at a young reporter.

“Will you veto these two bills or sign them into law?”

Just as they had that night in 2020, the words of his old essay came flooding back.

Fortunately for the political process, there remain a number of committed individuals who are steadfast enough in their beliefs to run for office to benefit their fellow Americans. Such people are willing to eschew political and personal comfort and convenience because they believe they can make a difference. One outstanding and inspiring example of such integrity is the country’s only Independent Congressman, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

For the first time in decades, Pete Buttigieg experienced an old but familiar feeling in his heart. He felt the Bern.

He felt the Bern.

The President smiled and pulled a pen out of his pocket.

“I could answer that for you,” he explained to the reporters, “but actions speak louder than words.”

President Pete sat down at the Resolute Desk and put pen to paper.

Filed under “Future History.”



Trump is the Dog Who Resembles His Owner

In the age of Trump, the adage that pet-owners often resemble their dogs may prove true in the realm of politics as well. Even a chief executive who fails to garner the popular vote of his constituents seems to reflect the worst aspects of those who most adamantly oppose him. In the wake of the stunning 2016 electoral upset, Boomers, Millennials and the last vestiges of the Greatest Generation have a formed a circular firing squad regarding who is to blame for the rise of a kleptocratic crypto-fascist with the worst Presidential hairpiece since Mr. Washington himself.


The Boomers blame the Millennials for their failure to get out the vote, the Millennials blame the Boomers for their failure to understand the populist sentiment of the electorate and both generations blame the Greatest for their failure to climb over a metaphorical border wall of racist, sexist, bigoted bullshit that seems deeply ingrained in the denture-laden skulls their brains formerly occupied.

In reality, Mr. Trump represents the most despicable qualities of each of our respective generations, making him the Batman that the crumbling Gotham of our Republic deserves, despite our desperate howling to the contrary as we March down the tinsel-lined yellow brick road of 5th Avenue towards the imposing citadel of Trump Tower while complimenting each other on how funny our signs are.

Trump the bumbling businessman who flaunts bankruptcy as some ingenious financial acumen represents the economic ineptitude of a generation of Boomers riding through the raging 80s into the financial comfort of the Clinton years only to squander our surplus with a bundle of inane investment instruments that nearly led the most prosperous nation since Midas’ Monarchy into an economic death spiral rivaled only by the Great Depression.

Trump the attention-deficit tweet machine sheltering himself in a blanket of undeserved entitlement, seeking a safe space from the bullying of anyone attempting to keep him accountable is the melancholy Millennial living in the One Million Dollar Loan of his parent’s basement exchanging an honest day’s work for a tiring tirade of self-pity.

And Trump the grumpy, fat old fuck wandering around in a bathrobe yelling at Fox News about how fantastic things were in the days of segregation and back-alley abortions is our dipshit grandfather who insists on voting yet refuses to die.

This is our family and 2017 has proved to be the bitter Thanksgiving weekend that refuses to end, as we repeat the same conversation over and over again in some nightmare version of Groundhog Day where Andie MacDowell will never fuck us.

So how did our family get here?

Growing up in the liberal echo chamber of the Bay Area during the 1990s, I idolized the Clintons. They were like my political parents. They made mistakes, often disagreed but remained strong enough to continue moving forward towards a common good like a Griswold family vacation to the Wally World of equality. Bill Clinton was the bumbling Homer Simpsons that didn’t deserve a partner like Marge but Hillary was the wise wife that kept his compass true. When they left the White House in 2001 I crudely superimposed a picture of Hillary’s face onto the Terminator’s body in Microsoft Paint with the caption “I’ll Be Back.” At the time it wasn’t a hint or a whisper of a wish, it was a prophecy. It was destiny. If only I had known.

Enter Dubya. The braindead High School gym coach who had us running in circles, insisting that we were either with him or against him and demanding the question, “is our children learning?” Our children is was learning and we is graduated.

Meet Barack Obama. Our cool college professor. He was tall and lanky and bummed us smokes after class. He slid our textbook away with a sly smile and turned his chair backwards. Call me Barry. Mr. Obama is my dad’s name. I definitely inhale.

We came home for Christmas break extolling the virtues of our hip happening prof. Mom was jealous and got a little hot under the head. Listen to me! Not some guy with a name plucked from the list of 9/11 hijackers!

Mom stewed for eight years. Got a little out of touch. We tried to teach her how to use “the email” but she kept accidentally deleting messages and clicking on suspicious links from Russian hackers. Mom. Jesus Christ. Don’t try to zoom in on an Instagram picture, you’re going to make me like it when I don’t.

Then Uncle Bernie came to visit. Weird Uncle Bernie from Vermont. He’s not really our uncle but we call him Uncle Bernie anyway. He’s so cool! Even cooler than Professor Obama! Awesome that an old dude agreed with us on all the stuff mom told us we were stupid for thinking. Mom told us she knew better. Uncle Bernie seemed to be the only one listening instead of lecturing. Mom made up some bullshit that Uncle Bernie was sexist and sent him back to Vermont. Ugh. MOM. What the fuck.

As Mama Hillary bumbled through the email scandal we knew she wasn’t doing anything corrupt or illegal, she just doesn’t know how to use a fucking computer. It was hard not to be resentful. Suddenly Hillary came to represent every incompetent boomer  who makes three times as much as us but doesn’t know how to power cycle the fucking modem. Just retire please.

Well, we got what we wanted. The 70-year-old serial sexual harasser CEO of the company stormed in and fired mom.
And then Mom blamed us for her failure. All of her friends did too. Talk about blaming the victim. Sure, we weren’t exactly the most patient kids but you’re the parent. The buck stops with you. You fucked up. You got fired. Accept your responsibility. This was your job to lose. Forced retirement snatched from the jaws of promotion. Please go home. We’ve got this.

Back to the dog resembling their owner. Maybe the opposite is true. JFK was the glossy-coated Collie that inspired a generation of young people to howl at the moon. Nixon was the grumpy terrier growling at everyone who passed his porch. Reagan the vapid show dog who could prance around the parade ground but couldn’t fetch for shit. Clinton the licking Labrador who tried to fuck a palm tree, Dubya the Doberman whose bark was dumber than his bite and Obama the shepherding sheep dog that led his flock proudly to the jaws of the wolf he swore to protect us from. Now there is a slobbering, rabies-infected Rottweiler eating his own shit and barfing it back on our couch. Every time we walk past the garbage-strewn driveway the Rottweiler guards we think “this is the time I won’t jump like a scared squirrel when he barks.” And then he barks and our heart skips a beat once again.

I challenge you to find a Baby Boomer who won’t weep a bit when you whisper the name “Old Yeller.” Show me a Millennial who enjoyed shooting the German Shepherds in Wolfenstein 3D and I’ll show you a Trump voter. But folks, it’s time for the family to put the dog down — metaphorically of course, not by rifle but through our votes. Things might be fucked for the Boomer’s retirement and the Millennial’s prospect for owning a home but the next generation is still innocent little Arliss. And we can’t let Old Yeller bite him. So it’s time to be the brave Travis and take a rifle to the dog to put him out of our misery (once again metaphorically, I am in no way advocating political violence or any other form of violence). And perhaps let this all be a reminder that we need to focus on something other than a bunch of dogs barking at each other lest we get into another bitter partisan battle like the nightmare of 2016. So mom, dad, aunts and uncles: let’s put the dog down, buy a bag of goldfish and get back to fucking work.