“Since Vietnam, every time a Democrat has won the presidency, it’s because Democrats voted with their hearts in a primary and closed ranks around the candidate who inspired them, promising an obvious break from the past and an inspiring vision that blossomed in the general election.” —Peter Hamby, Vanity Fair
I was 17 in November of 1996. Which means that had I been born one measly year earlier, I could have voted in that Clinton versus Dole presidential election. I’m not going to lie to you: it sucked. I sulked. I sulked through the semester of US Government I was taking, where much of our daily lessons revolved around that election. I sulked through being made to watch the debates and write papers on them. I sulked on election night, watching the returns with my father, seeing him grow more and more exasperated, then resigned, as it became clearer and clearer that Senator Dole was being handed his ass on a silver platter. I wanted to vote! I would like to say something melodramatic about not wishing this on anyone else, but of course that’s silly, seeing as millions upon millions of people are 17 every four years. There’s nothing we can do about this societal mishap.
So the first presidential election in which I was old enough to vote was 2000. Bush versus Gore. Given my existential crisis at barely missing the age cutoff to vote in ‘96, you’d think I would’ve been more excited and found the whole enterprise a tad less anticlimactic? But, I was 21, frantically attempting to finish college a year early, hadn’t yet begun the adulting process of differentiating my own political beliefs from those of my large, conservative, conformist extended family (that would begin seven months later), and thus, the automatic presumption was that I’d vote Republican. I did. Obviously I’d like to retract that today, but at the time I gave little thought to going against the grain, and honestly, Al Gore really bothered me. Bill Clinton’s horrific treatment of Monica Lewinsky had a huge emotional impact on many women my age, myself included; perhaps this is unfair in hindsight, but at the time I thought Gore didn’t disavow Clinton and his bad behavior enough. Bush it was.
By the time the 2002 midterms rolled around, I had officially declared myself a political independent, and my voting record reflected that, with votes for Democrats and Republicans up and down the ballot. It would appear that my deliberate vote against Rick Perry for governor has truly stood the test of time.
This brings us to 2004. I didn’t vote. It’s okay to judge me, I judge me. Abstractly speaking, I did desire to perform my civic duty! The problem was that I had ventured to law school in another state but hadn’t changed my residency, which required that I vote absentee, and since I was quite busy as a first-year law student and hideously uninspired by both presidential candidates, I procrastinated and missed the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot. But before that I had decided, with much reluctance and malaise and some amount of vomit, to vote for John Kerry. Fifteen years later, I stand behind the vomit. (God, he was a terrible candidate…)
2008. I was settled in New York with New York residency and everything. I walked to the local high school in my beautiful city neighborhood and happily cast a vote for Obama. It was one of the most freeing moments of my life. By now, my political individuation was pretty much complete, and I identified as a solid liberal, a registered Democrat and everything. 2012? Lather, rinse, repeat. My time in NYC wasn’t all good though. Wedged in were of course the 2006, 2010, and 2014 midterms, where straight ticket Democrat New Yorkers would highly prefer you not mention their votes for Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo. Also, you are NOT allowed to ask whether I lived in Anthony Weiner’s congressional district during that time.
Anyways, I think we’re up to 2016 now, the first election year after I moved to New Jersey. I held my nose and voted for Hillary. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing on God’s green earth that could compel me to vote for Trump, so it’s not like I hemmed and hawed or gave it a second thought even. But I wasn’t the least bit excited about Clinton. I thought she was a terrible candidate who ran a terrible, arrogant campaign, and I predicted her loss way back in 2015 when she first announced her candidacy.
Alright, then we had the 2018 midterms which are recent enough we need not rehash them in any way, and that brings us to today. It’s mid-2019 and we’re staring down the barrel of the 2020 presidential election, yes already, with so many Democratic primary contenders that we’ve all lost count. Now my husband and I are what’s known in campaign parlance as “high information voters.” We follow the news, the polls, the plans, the gaffes. We watch all the debates, probably in the same manner that normal people watch wrestling. Or maybe more like Charismatics watching televangelists, but with a lot more profanity? We *might* have simultaneously flipped off Congressman John Delaney during the first Democratic debates last month.
Back in January, when this whole clusterfuck began, I assumed I’d be Team Harris for the long haul. I’m tired of entitled old people insisting it’s their turn, I’m tired of establishment, milquetoast centrism, and I’m salivating for a woman president. Kamala Harris fits the bill, right? I thought she was a great contender and I liked her just fine (still do), but I wasn’t in love. I vowed not to do that. I have been around enough blocks to know that most politicians and their titanic egos are easily bought and cowed, and the vast majority of Democrats are wayyyyy too eager to give away their power. I promised myself I’d remain skeptical and unemotional through the entire process.
Well folks, I’ve broken my own rule. I said I wasn’t going to do it, but I’ve got to confess: I too have totally fallen in love with Elizabeth Warren. I shouldn’t, right? This is likely futile. So many things could go wrong. Even if she gets the nomination, 2020 will be rigged in Trump’s favor, there’s rampant voter suppression, Speaker Pelosi is alienating the grassroots base, Russians will attack us again – McConnell is making sure of it – and there’s every reason to be doubtful about any positive outcome here.
But I’ve decided to let go and just allow myself a moment, a moment to realize and savor that for the first time in my entire life, I’m actually energized by a presidential candidate. I actually like her. I want her to win the nomination. I want Bailey to be First Dog! The closest I’ve ever come to a true, non-cynical warm fuzzy toward anyone running for president was Obama (I voted for him in the primaries and bit my nails rooting for his win), but after he nominated Joe Biden for VP and acted arrogant in that one general debate, my half-assed enthusiasm cooled a bit (though I’ve always loved Michelle). But for Warren, I am still carrying a rather large torch. She just… gets it. She’s running a smart campaign (HILLARY!), her social media game is on point (HARRIS!), she details her policy proposals (BUTTIGIEG!), she’s idealistic, but she never sounds like a pie-in-the-sky idiot (BERNIE!). She’s disciplined (BETO!), she’s down to earth, and she seems to be attuned to 1) the actual Democratic base (BIDEN!); 2) the real, raw outrage of women (BOOKER!); and 3) the existential threat to democracy and national security we are facing (BIDEN! KLOBUCHAR! INDISTINGUISHABLE WHITE DUDES EXCEPT INSLEE!). I walked in assuming Team Harris was the place to be, but Warren is really changing my mind.
In fact, I actually bought a piece of merch from her campaign. This is huge for me. I have never in my life felt compelled to own an article of clothing or an accessory that bore a politician’s name, and beyond that, I assumed I never would. But look at me now. I have a beautiful navy blue apron with her name and snarky but true writing across the front. My cat tries to attack the strings when I don it. I baked a pie, then a cake, and it’s now covered in flour. I’m sure Warren would approve, but I suppose the real question is: would Bailey?
Strawberry Milk Pie
- 1 9-inch fully blind-baked and cooled pie crust
- ¾ lb fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- ⅓ cup cold water
- 2 tsp unflavored gelatin
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- Sweetened whipped cream and sliced strawberries, for serving
- In a medium saucepan, bring strawberries and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. This will take between 10 and 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture until very smooth. Whisk in cream, milk, and salt. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, just until mixture begins to steam. Do not boil. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, place ⅓ cup cold water and sprinkle gelatin over top. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk gelatin mixture into strawberry mixture until fully dissolved. Whisk in both extracts.
- Pour the strawberry mixture in your pie crust, then pour the leftover mixture into small mason jars or ramekins. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Top with whipped cream and sliced strawberries before serving.