In Memoriam: A Final Farewell to 2019’s Cursed Presidential Campaigns

Plus a goodbye to the Rubber Chicken Circuit!

I’m Chris Erik Thomas. After 30 issues and over 44,000 words, I’d like to welcome you to The Final Issue of Rubber Chicken Circuit. Yes, your favorite weekly election newsletter from Study Hall is ending so the next chapter in political insight can begin. 

Starting next year, I’ll be writing a weekly column for the Study Hall Digest about the intersection of politics and media in the 2020 election and beyond. Interested? Head to the Study Hall Patreon and subscribe to the Digest. It’s simple and frustration-free — the exact opposite of our political process! 

Now bow your heads as I light a prayer candle for all of the failed campaigns and no-name contenders who crashed and burned this year.

The People Who Maybe Actually Had a Shot

KAMALA HARRIS

Of all the candidates to run for president this year, the California Senator had the biggest crash and burn. Exactly one year ago, in December 2018, a survey of women of color political organizers, activists, donors, and party leaders found that “71.1% includes Harris in their top three choices for president.” A month later, she launched her campaign in front of 20,000 people — a larger crowd than Obama had when he announced. 

What a difference a year makes. Beyond one brief moment of BDE (Big Debate Energy) where she took on Joe Biden over segregated busing policies, all of her hype and energy deflated like a popped balloon as her sketchy record as California’s “Top Cop” came under scrutiny and her campaign started sinking like the Titanic. Having a woman of color in the race is important but when over 50 current and former campaign staff members and allies are willing to spill the tea to The New York Times about how much of a dumpster fire of disorganization your campaign is, it’s best to call it quits.

BETO O’ROURKE

Ah, to be young, white, male, and a punk-rock bro. Of all the contenders for the crown of America’s Next Political Superstar, the Texan had the most forward momentum in the lead-up to his campaign announcement. After a year spent winning the internet while losing a Senate campaign that came complete with a flashy HBO documentary about how he’s allowed to be an absent father because America is his children, Beto finally jumped into the race with an even flashier Vanity Fair cover story

It was the social media equivalent of the political media hype crowd that carried Kamala Harris into the race like Lady Gaga in the egg at the 2011 Grammy Awards. Beto, just like Harris, was gassed up as the Next Big Thing. The future of the Democratic Party. At least until Joe Biden decided to jump in. Over the course of the year, we watched the punk rock king that used to make Political Twitter’s panties plummet go from standing on things to falling into obscurity. The good news is that since he skipped out on another Senate race, his open schedule has allowed him to support other Texas Democrats and grow out the requisite beard that all men are required to have when they stop doing A Really Big Thing.

Another great candidate - Sima Ladjevardian @simafortexas - who is our best bet to defeat Dan Crenshaw and represent the 2nd congressional district (Houston). Please support her https://secure.actblue.com/donate/q4simafortexas
December 17, 2019

The People in a Movie Who Have One Line of Dialogue But Still Get Credited on IMDB

JAY INSLEE

The Washington state governor may not have caught on with voters as the Greta Thunberg of the election, but he did leave a legacy — a 218-page, six-part legacy. Remember him for the massive tome of climate change proposals that have filtered into other candidates’ plans and forget that unwatchable seven-hour climate town hall.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

It is an indisputable fact that Senator Gillibrand was the most fun candidate in the race. Sure, her attempt to be the Feminist Candidate never caught on since feminism is a pretty low bar these days, but at least she got to play beer pong, arm wrestle for donations, and swap wardrobes with drag queens.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER

The microbrewery owner and former Colorado governor who thinks hot dogs are sandwiches stayed in the race for an extra month after every senior staffer on his campaign quit and told him to drop his presidential ambitions so he could run for Senate. He at least followed through on a Senate run (unlike Beto) but really.  The dedication! The privilege of living in an alternate reality where he had a chance at the White House! 

BILL DE BLASIO

Rather than talk about how embarrassing and unpopular the NYC mayor was on the campaign trail and at home, I’d like to mourn Little Miss Staten Island Charlotte, the groundhog that died of internal injuries days after de Blasio dropped her back in 2014. Gone but not forgotten, Charlotte.

The People With “Rare Bigfoot Sighting” Energy

WAYNE MESSAM

The poster child for doing the least but still fucking up. His running selfies were more influential than his presidential run and his biggest legacy will be refusing to pay his staff.

JOE SESTAK

The only thing that set him apart from other straight white men was that he looked like a nice elderly man who escaped from the retirement home and was making a fan sequel to the Blair Witch Project, but isn’t that enough? 

RICHARD OJEDA

The former Senator from West Virginia ran for president for three months before dropping out in January, but to quote the immortal words of Keke Palmer: "I hate to say it — I hope I don't sound ridiculous — I don't know who this man is. I mean, he could be walking down the street, I wouldn't know a thing. Sorry to this man."

STEVE SETH TIM ERIC BULLOCK MOULTON RYAN SWALLWELL, FIRST OF HIS NAME.

When I heard the news that the White Male Candidate cloning facility had suffered a catastrophic power surge, I wept. But then, out of the darkness, came Steve Seth Tim Eric Bullock Moulton Ryan Swalwell (the First of His Name). Finally, America had a hero… or so I thought. Unfortunately, this superhuman embodiment of Wonder Bread and Mayonnaise was not the needle we needed to stitch the deep ideological wounds facing America. So now, as I mourn, I leave you with this beautiful portrait of a man person thing cut down in his prime.

If you want to fight that white composite manstrosity, me too. But guess what? The election still isn’t even over! We don’t even have one Democratic candidate! The worst thing about 2020 is that it’s been happening for years. The best thing about 2020 is that you’ll have me there to whisper “Buttigieg is a wine cave goblin” in your ear. 

If you liked what you read and aren’t ready to say goodbye, head over to Study Hall and sign up for the Study Hall Digest, where I’ll have a weekly column. Thank you for supporting serving after serving of Rubber Chicken Circuit and I’ll see you next year for more.

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