“In the presidential debates leading up to the last election, only four minutes total were spent on climate change, that’s one big reason I’m running: to ensure that doesn’t happen again.” –Jay Inslee
The 2020 Democratic presidential primary chugs along with, despite the recent spate of dropouts, still far too many contenders. Dropouts are good, and I should be happy, but I’m not, because the latest dropouts are not the people who scare the living hell out of me – those people are still running, oh lord – and one particular dropout is someone I wanted to remain in the race a little longer.
That someone is Jay Inslee. It’s true he had no shot at the nomination, and that’s fine. He knew that. His was an aggressive messaging campaign on climate change, designed to center, push, and prioritize this existential threat. In that respect, his campaign has been successful, and I selfishly wanted him to stick around a bit longer.
I want to write about Inslee’s campaign, but I’m not going to discuss climate change. There exists a long list of people who can do that much more ably than me. I’d rather discuss White Male Privilege. I think most of us agree, it has run amok this presidential primary season. White men have had their turn attempting to govern this country – and for several centuries! Multiple excellent, well-qualified women and men of color are running (no, not Andrew Yang), and white dudes simply aren’t necessary this time around. Yet they keep inexplicably throwing their hats in the ring and expecting to be taken seriously. I except Inslee from this onslaught of arrogant white male mediocrity. I think he did a good thing.
He used his privilege for good. Climate change is an ever-escalating, impending emergency, and the political class in America is beyond pathetic in their responses. Republicans spread propaganda encouraging their base to outright deny it, or at least not care, while they busy themselves with plans to profit off people’s displacement and misery. Democrats acknowledge the reality with worthless platitudes while dithering and shrugging at or mocking solutions (“the green dream, or whatever”). Worse than the dithering itself is the Democratic establishment’s underlying hostility to taking this seriously. Whatever is motivating them (too rich to care? Too old to care? Big donations from fossil fuel companies? Still trying to win over Trump supporters? Protecting Biden from his own staggering ineptitude?), it’s entrenched. Tom Perez and his ilk work furiously behind the scenes to downplay this threat and push insipid incremental crap as a serious response. Part of that work entails chastising and sidelining any Democratic contender who doesn’t toe the centrist party line.
Inslee knows that, I think. And he used his White Male Privilege to stand on the front line of the firing squad, tell everyone he was standing on the front line of the firing squad, and dare them to take a shot. In doing so, he gave the women and people of color a shield and a cover. He enabled them to talk about climate change in real terms, to propose the bold, quick, “far left” solutions we really need, and without getting Howard Deaned in the process. There’s strength in numbers, but someone has to stick their neck out first. Inslee, being a white male with a safe, state-level job, had the lowest risk to do just that.
Inslee could take the aggressive stance, he could be the needed disruptor, without really damaging himself or his career. He knows that he can say whatever he wants and the media won’t start tsk-tsking about his “likeability” or hand-wringing over his “electability”. He knows he can say just about anything and the DNC has no real ability to ruin his career. He did this knowing he would never be the actual nominee, but he’s given cover to whomever will. The media and the public take him seriously simply because he’s a white male who showed up and opened his mouth. He’s set a certain narrative on the urgency of dealing with climate change, and other more female and nonwhite candidates can echo his rhetoric and proposals without seeming fringe or scary. That’s why every candidate except Biden is agitating for a separate, single-issue climate debate now.
It remains true that Inslee will never be president; someone else will, and they’ll be taking his climate change notes (except Biden, in which case we’re all just fucked). History will certainly remember Jay Inslee kindly.
Yellow Cake Baked Oatmeal with Peaches and Blackberries
- 2 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats (just don’t use steel-cut)
- 5 cups whole milk
- 2 cups yellow cake mix, homemade or from a box
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large or 2 small peaches, pitted and sliced
- 6 oz. blackberries (raspberries would be great if you prefer)
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x13” baking dish.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the oats and milk. Microwave on HIGH for 5 to 6 minutes, stopping to stir once about halfway through. Let the oatmeal sit on the counter to thicken for 10 minutes, but no longer.
- Once it’s thickened, stir the cake mix into the oatmeal mixture, then add the salt, eggs, vanilla extract, and melted butter. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Drop the peaches and blackberries on top of the batter. They’ll sink a little but it’s fine.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges are set and the center is jiggly but not liquidy. Let cool until warm but no longer piping hot, then spoon into bowls and eat warm.