No, your favorite Twitter celebrity #Resister shouldn’t be POTUS, either.
Remember when balling up a fist and emitting an excited “Yeah!” sound cost former Governor Howard Dean the New Hampshire primary? Or when Michael Dukakis staged the infamous tank photo op that pratically guaranteed George Bush a 40-state electoral victory?
In hindsight, I think it’s fair to say that voters in this country used to have pretty high standards for their candidates (with the exception of George W. Bush). Those standards went flying out the window when a racist billionaire announced his campaign for President by referring to Mexicans as “criminals and rapists” — and then went on to beat 16 others for the Republican nomination.
When Donald Trump shocked the world and won the Presidency against arguably the most qualified Democratic nominee in modern history, the legitimacy of the Oval Office was called into question. And roughly 2 years later, with the weight of Russian interference, Twitter tantrums and daily scandal on our shoulders, many Democrats are desperate for a leader to take on Trump in 2020.
Traditionally, there has always been a microscope placed on rising politicians in the months surrounding midterms. Due to this cycle’s political climate and the surge of activism accompanying it — endearingly known as “the Resistance” — the range of prospective candidates-to-watch is much wider.
Everyone from Washington newcomers (Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Joe Kennedy) to unlikely celebrities — Kanye West, Mark Zuckerberg, and Oprah Winfrey — have been added to the mix of potential contenders. We even have an already declared candidate, Congressman John Delaney (D-MD), but most pundits have labeled him far too unremarkable to be taken seriously (and honestly, they’re not wrong).
There’s no doubt that many of these candidates simply wouldn’t have been plausible 4 years ago, but Trump has lowered the bar so much that we are convinced anyone would be better than him. This culture of disillusionment lends a helping hand to political opportunists who exploit public frustration for personal gain.
One such opportunist is none other than Michael Avenatti.
Avenatti rose to stardom earlier this year after providing legal defense for Stormy Daniels; the actress/sex worker currently suing Trump for defamation and violation of an NDA. His fiery tweets and almost-daily media appearances went viral, and before long, Avenatti surmassed a Twitter following of 685,000.
The Stormy Daniels affair grabbed headlines around the world, and he certainly didn’t shy away from the spotlight. It’s estimated that Avenatti had 108 appearances on MSNBC and CNN over a 64-day period earlier this year. Between court dates and media gigs, Avenatti took to his Twitter timeline to further criticize the President. He even created a poll for his followers to decide on which unflattering nickname best suited Trump — eventually settling on “Don the Con” when the results came in.
In early July, Avenatti replied to speculation about a possible 2020 run by asserting that he would, “but only if I think that there is no other candidate in the race that has a REAL chance at beating him. We can’t relive 2016.”
Honestly, when I first read the tweet above, I rolled my eyes and scrolled on. I’d never been particularly interested in the Stormy Daniels drama and I’d never really taken the time to figure out who this guy was. Polls indicated that most Americans felt the same way, and as one of my friends put it, “literally no one outside of Twitter dot com” was talking about Michael Avenatti.
So you can imagine my surprise when I opened two separate email invitations Friday morning for a local county Dems picnic with….Michael Avenatti. He’d spent the past weekend at a Democratic fundraising dinner in Iowa, and now he was heading to the Granite State for hot dogs and summer fun!
Out of sheer curiosity, I visited his Twitter profile for the first time and…this is the pinned tweet that greeted me.
This dude literally put together a Word document of a dozen random positions….and bragged about not needing a political consultant to help him do it. While the actual content is elementary at best, that sure didn’t stop hundreds of his followers from cheering him on with #Basta (Italian for “enough”) and promises to volunteer for his campaign.
Days later, Avenatti appeared to be throwing shade at potential rival John Delaney in a tweet declaring that “any Dem candidate [whining] about not getting enough press coverage…..should be immediately eliminated.” Delaney had recently criticized the press for “being too busy chasing the latest cable news circus act” to cover his own campaign efforts.
That last tweet didn’t sit well with some folks, who accused Avenatti of “friendly fire” and hypocrisy. Avenatti was probably unfazed. He is a “street fighter” after all, who…*checks notes* blocks critics on Twitter for mildly questioning his qualifications.
Perhaps he has more in common with Trump than he realizes.
I thought I’d had enough of Avenatti for the weekend, until I opened the Twitter app and there he was on the VMA Red Carpet, being interviewed about a potential presidential run.
I wish I was joking.
So he’s been to Iowa. He’s been to New Hampshire. And he’s been to the MTV VMA’s. This man is running for President.
Now some of you may be thinking, “You should keep an open mind. Trump’s not a traditional President, so why shouldn’t we nominate a non-traditional candidate to defeat him?”
The answer is simple: politics isn’t a spectator sport. It’s not a reality TV show, although Trump so desperately wants it to be.
Avenatti is a man who has never held elected office. He’s never run for anything in his entire 47 years of living. That alone is concerning, especially when his run’s sole purpose is to piss off Trump, instead of uniting the electorate behind progressive policies that uplift struggling America. Being good at talking on cable TV doesn’t qualify someone to handle the tasks of a Commander-in-Chief. No amount of retweets could prepare him to tackle foreign policy or domestic poverty.
If Avenatti’s intentions are truly genuine and not filled completely with aspiration, he should be focused on helping Democrats get elected up & down the ballot in November. He should be making phone calls and knocking doors for candidates, not sparring with Congressmen or blocking Progressives who question his lack of experience. His shameless brand of self-promotion could be potentially damaging to our party, especially in a time when Democrats need all the help we can get.
Our Democratic nominee in 2020 should be a devoted civil servant with actual policy experience, not just some attorney turned “street fighter” who rolled out of bed one morning and decided having a lot of Twitter followers qualifies him for the White House.
Michael, if you’re reading this, please don’t quit your day job.