23&WE: The Democrats Debate (With apologies to Chaucer for imperfectly borrowing his rhyme scheme)


From The New York Times:

“Two nights, four hours, so, so many candidates: the first Democratic presidential debates will be like nothing we’ve ever seen. A former vice president on stage with a self-help author. Three female candidates on one night, three female candidates the next — more than have ever been on the debate stage at once. A 37-year-old squaring off against two septuagenarians.”


Now listen, friends, as I unveil the chorus
Of those I’m calling 23&WE.
We’re not discussing folks who came before us;
It’s those who say what this country should be
And how they’ll make enough of us agree.
They’re poised to set out from the starting gate,
And one of them may well decide our fate.

How do they call attention to their vision
And talents that will make them best to lead?
So many voters now voice skepticism
Re: turning those fine words to solid deeds
To build a worthwhile new American creed
That knits together vastly different types
Of folks who harbor vastly different gripes.

The polls agree the leader’s now Joe Biden,
A man well known who was a fine VP.
Experienced in world affairs, he’s ridin’
On hopes he’ll bring us back to normalcy
And thus is safe to take down Covfeve.
But some say Uncle Joe is just too dated,
And can’t forget Anita Hill deflated.

There’s Bernie S., who never seems to waver;
In 40 years he hasn’t turned the page.
He’s moved the Dems on issues gaining favor:
Medicare for all; a $15 wage.
But others now are acting on that stage.
A Democratic Socialist with pride,
If he falters, would he just step aside?

Someone to watch, the pundits say, is Warren,
On each issue she has a plan, for sure.
An ultra-millionaire’s tax could be transformin’
With free child care for all and so much more.
For inequality she has a cure.
But will pro-banker, moneyed folks resist,
Despite her self-description: “capitalist”?

One candidate whose fame has come quite quickly
Is South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete
(Trying to rhyme his last name is quite tricky)
His scholar/military resume is neat,
But politically he fits into a tweet.
Still, he has generational appeal
And messaging that sounds both wise and real.

Kamala Harris, tough in prosecuting
Won plaudits for her querying Bill Barr.
She says in office she’d be executing
Punishments for employers who’re sub-par
In the male/female equity pay bar.
A woman of color, bona fides deep,
She’s on a lot of short lists for the Veep.

Amid the current tones of acrimony,
Cory Booker’s words sound so very nice.
He talks of love, civic grace, and harmony
And exhorts men to protect women’s rights.
And cares a lot to end our urban blights.
This Rhodes Scholar who’s certainly no fool
Has Wall Street ties and supports charter schools.

Amy Klobuchar is praised quite highly
Across the aisles in a once true blue state
She’s also known to view events quite wryly,
And humor’s in too short supply of late.
Some feel her plans don’t carry enough weight.
But one’s important, not just symbolically:
Her push for statehood for Washington, DC.

Beto leapt to fame by losing narrowly;
In Texas that was seen as quite a feat.
His campaign started off quite powerfully
And then began to lose a bit of heat,
Though he engages each voter he’ll meet.
His message is important as can be:
Immigration: with “respect and dignity.”

I’ve long thought that the job of governor
Makes President a ready move to make.
There’s Hickenlooper, Inslee, and another:
Steve Bullock, who will miss next week’s debate.
Each has records touted as first-rate.
And each has worked to combat climate change
With Inslee’s speech most often in this range.

It’s time, say many Dems, to crack that ceiling
Re: healthcare, equity, diversity,
To all these goals the party is appealing
And I believe that voters sensibly
Will weigh their thoughts while seeking to agree
And try to find which candidate’s around
Who’s most likely to find that common ground.

I see I’m in trouble here numerically,
And fear my rhyme is starting to grow weak.
I’ve gone through less than half the twenty-three.
There’s still a dozen more of whom to speak,
And showtime’s coming middle of next week.
But since to verses’ end you’ve still held tight,
You’ll find all contenders’ pitches through this site.


I clearly gave only the briefest attention to the candidates I covered, and none at all to the rest. Here is how they present themselves to voters:

  1. Joe Biden: JoeBiden.com
  2. Bernie Sanders: BernieSanders.com
  3. Elizabeth Warren: ElizabethWarren.com
  4. Kamala Harris: KamalaHarris.org
  5. Pete Buttigieg: PeteForAmerica.com
  6. Cory Booker: CoryBooker.com
  7. Beto O’Rourke: BetoOrourke.com
  8. Amy Klobuchar: Amy-Klobuchar.com
  9. Andrew Yang: yang2020.com
  10. Jay Inslee: JayInslee.com
  11. Julian Castro: JulianForTheFuture.com
  12. Tulsi Gabbard: tulsi2020.com
  13. Kirsten Gillibrand: 2020.KirstenGillibrand.com
  14. Marianne Williamson: marianne2020.com
  15. John Delaney: JohnKDelaney.com
  16. Tim Ryan: TimRyanForAmerica.com
  17. John Hickenlooper: hickenlooper.com
  18. Bill de Blasio: BilldeBlasio.com
  19. Steve Bullock: SteveBullock.com
  20. Michael Bennet: MichaelBennet.com
  21. Eric Smalwell: EricSwalwell.com
  22. Seth Moulton: SethMoulton.com
  23. Wayne Messan: WayneForAmerica.com

I know it’s early, but if you’re committed to the idea that we need new leadership in 2020, these debates are important in winnowing the field, and you may find yourself wanting to support someone who hasn’t yet gained much public attention.

So I hope you’ll watch the debates, review the candidates’ positions as they state them on their web sites, and support the candidate(s) of your choice. Small donations will be vital for qualifying for subsequent debates, so please consider even minimal financial support of candidates as well.



20 thoughts on “23&WE: The Democrats Debate (With apologies to Chaucer for imperfectly borrowing his rhyme scheme)

  1. Anne:

    You’re showing lots more talent than you ever had a chance to display at MedEc.

    But then literary style was never appreciated there. Keep it up. — Berkeley

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Annie,
    I hope you enjoy the debates as much as you have seemed to in putting this post together.
    With so many speakers slinging their stuff in such short time frames, any results will, no doubt, be hard to figure out.
    But maybe we’ll be able to conclude who to include or exclude as being a reliable, viable potential nominee.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Don–

      I know you’ve had trouble getting comments through in the past, so I thought you’d like to know this is the THIRD time I’m trying to respond to you.

      You’re right: I did enjoy putting the rhyme together–until my pleasure began to flag. I figured if that was happening to me, I shouldn’t inflict more on my readers. In retrospect, 23 stanzas was a bit overly ambitious.

      I have the same concern about the debates. With 20 candidates, it will be awfully hard to hold people’s attention with substantive discussion. So to get noticed, they’ll have to try for memorable one-liners.

      And we’re now firmly in the Reality TV era. At the recent Poor People’s Campaign forum, the person who reportedly got the most applause was Marianne Williamson, an inspirational author with zero political experience. I find that troubling.

      But I hope you’re right, and maybe some really good, viable candidates will emerge. We sure need them.

      Thanks for your comment–much appreciated.



  3. All these Dems now battling for election,
    Every one would be a fine selection.

    And while we all would like to see the Oval Office switch,
    It won’t matter much if the Senate is run by Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re pleased with the choices on the Democratic side;
      Let’s hope the eventual nominee’s support is deep and wide.
      But your conclusion seems to me quite clear without a doubt:
      For any bipartisan progress, we’ll need to get Mitch out!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a clever way to summarize the candidates and their views! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and will definitely be watching the debates. I only hope the candidates will be as eloquent as you are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Fran–

      Thanks so much! Unfortunately, each candidate will get a grand total of 10 minutes. That’s not much time to make an impression–especially if they’re not well known.



  5. You know when I started University, I didn’t take my first year of University at the University of Alberta (where most first year classes had at least 200 students) but at a smaller college in Edmonton called Concordia (where the class size was no more than 30 students per class).

    I moved over to the University of Alberta in my 2nd year and graduated with a B.A. Cum Laude in Philosophy 3 years later.

    But the only thing I regretted about starting my 1st year at Concordia is they didn’t offer as a first year English course English 200 (which was a History of English Literature) but only English 210 (English Genres).

    Had I gone to the U. Of A. my first year and taken English 200 or had they offered English 200 at Concordia, I’d have studied Chaucer.

    That’s the one regret I had about my University education is that I never studied Chaucer.

    So I can’t really comment on whether you fit Chaucerian rhythms.

    But I congratulate you for applying them to the Democratic debates.

    It’s a nice poetic summing up of where the candidates stand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not too late, Christopher. With your facile mind, you can read Chaucer on your own. And I think you’d love him; he’s witty, sly, and very bawdy.

      From my father, I learned how to recite the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Middle English. I still love to do it—and translate some lines that I especially love.

      Then in a college Chaucer class, I was ill and couldn’t do the research project in time, so I wrote the story of Chaucer’s poem “The Parliament of Fowls,” as told by the Wife of Bath in the Canterbury Tales. The professor gave me an A and told me he shared it with the English Dept profs.

      The rhyme scheme is ABABBCC for each stanza, but I’m pretty sure each line has 10 syllables, and for some reason I wanted 11 for certain emphases and was a bit clunky in spots. But it was lots of fun.

      Thanks. Speaking of The Parliament of Fowls, I suspect I ruffled some feathers with some of my comments about candidates. But I wrote it as I see it.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Annie.

        I read the 1st several lines of the prologue and wrote tonight’s vampire novel chapter in the form of a “poem written in semi-Chaucerian fashion (with apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer)”.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Annie,
    This is such a wonderful way of introducing people to the candidates!! As a Canadian, I haven’t been following this really closely but I am very interested. In the 13 or so that you covered it sounds like there are some very worthy individuals.
    Thanks so much for all the links, too 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And thank you for visiting and commenting. Hope we’ll hear from you—a citizen of our highly civilized neighboring country to the north—as often as you feel motivated to participate!

      All good wishes,

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice of you to provide the links. I find the large slate and enormity of the challenge of taking back the White House daunting, so I’m upping my deep breathing exercises! Politics is a hopeful endeavor (tough on career catastrophizers). Thanks for your good work here. Keep on.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Another great piece! I seriously don’t know how you do it! I do, however, have a word that rhymes with Buttigieg … edge! Or pledge. I’m late to this party by about 8 months, and now we’re down to what looks like 5+1 (the +1 being Bloomberg who, in June when you wrote this, wasn’t even in the mix). Alas … I fear none are providing the energy, the enthusiasm that is going to be required to topple the current “king of the hill”, but … it’s early days yet.


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