Opinion: Presidents aren’t people we should “want to drink a beer with”

On the eve of 2019, Senator Elizabeth Warren announced her intention to run for president in 2020, assuming she gets through the Democratic primaries first.

This went over about as predictably as you’d expect, with each side beating their chests about one thing or another. Notably, my fellow feminists urging the early nipping-in-the-bud of devaluing a female candidate by dissecting her clothing or likeability (which is, it seems, inextricably linked to her clothing somehow?).

^ This is Connie Schultz, a great journalist and writer from Cleveland. She’s also Senator Sherrod Brown’s wife. Brown is expected to run in the Democratic primaries.

Warren’s first dumb campaign PR move came straight out the gate. A live-streamed video from her kitchen on New Year’s Eve, during which she grabs a beer while delivering this line with all the genuine, unencumbered ease of a billy goat in tap shoes: “Hold on a sec,” she says. “I’m gonna get me, um, a beer.”

This, obviously, unleashed many rotten tomatoes tweeted and reported in her general direction. Rightfully so. It was pandering and disingenuous for many reasons, but what I was surprised to see no one talking about was how lame this trope of a Cool Chill Dude president was in the first place. Why do we allow “Well ya know, I’d like to sit down and have a beer with them” as a qualifier to become leader of the free world?

“There’s an old expression that people would like to have a president who is the kind of person they’d like to have a beer with, and I think Elizabeth Warren was making a very direct pitch to that notion and saying, ‘I’m the kind of person you could have a beer with,’” said a reporter on the NPR Politics podcast episode from Jan. 3.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—from whose playbook Warren’s campaign directly took this move—has shot to the top of the Dem pop charts for doing similar casual beer sipping in her own livestream talks. But because she’s on “our side” and she’s young and we like her, we let it slide… even though the left panned the right when much of George W. Bush’s electability was distilled down to the media-fueled sound bite that, hey, he’s a beer-drinking good ol’ boy just like us (which, sidenote, so flippantly disregarded Bush’s struggle with alcoholism, it’s extra gross).

What’s also weird about Warren doing the beer thing, other than how incredibly uncomfortable she seems with it (they might as well have had her yeeting), is that so much of her political appeal has been her brilliance in calling out / taking down / holding accountable corporate and financial industry greed. Meanwhile, the beer, wine, and liquor industries spend millions each year in government lobbying and has for a very long time. It was kind of icky to see a product like that used as a marketing tactic by someone of her responsible-capitalist, anti-corruption caliber and political fortitude.

Liz. Grrl. You do you! There can only be one AOC but there can also only be one EW! I, personally, am thirsty for a candidate who doesn’t fucking care about pitching me themselves and just tells me what they’re going to fix and how they’re going to fix it. Let’s chalk this up to getting your sea legs, and cut that shit out in all future campaign videos.

And for the rest of us, here’s what I propose: Let’s focus on candidates’ policies and their strategies for putting those policies in place this time around (groundbreaking!). Demand this from the candidates themselves and our media too. Don’t tweet/post about how much you like when a candidate acts like one of us; instead, let’s share the news about their plan or our feelings / thoughts / or questions about the agenda they proposed in that IG TV vid (or whatever’s next). I think that’s how we get closer to a necessary cultural shift of thinking about our candidates and political expectations.

Together we can add the Beer Quotient to the heap pile of “Things We Don’t Give A Shit About Anymore When Picking Our President.” It’ll be great—extra fuel for burning down the last of those pesky pantsuits and investigative reports on whether he inhaled, truly, and, followup, liked it.

I don’t drink anymore, but when I did, do you know who I didn’t want to share beers with? Elizabeth Warren! Because she’s a million times smarter than me and I’d rather her be plugging away at squashing capitalist greed than tapping the keg so she can gon’-get-herself a beer. (Judging by how out-of-place she seemed in that NYE video, I think she’d rather being crunching numbers, too. Or at least drinking some kumbucha and settling down for a long evening of reading The Atlantic by mahogany-scented candlelight to ring in the new year.)

It’s like that scene in “Cool Runnings” (if I had a dollar for every time I said that…), where Coach Irv is convincing the fellas which one of them deserves to be the driver, the leader of the bobsled team.

“The driver has to work harder than anyone,” Irv says. “He’s the first to show up and the last to leave. When his buddies are all out drinking beer, he’s up in his room studying pictures of turns. You see, a driver must remain focused one hundred percent at all times. Not only is he responsible for knowing every inch of every course he races, he’s also responsible for the lives of the other men in the sled.”

You are in the president’s sled!

You and millions of others!

Ask not what beer a presidential candidate drinks for her country!

But what kind of country a candidate asks us to bear!

Ugh, if you must, just use the Beer Quotient for the VP. Vice presidents are the ones you’re better off wanting to have drink with anyway. Except Pence. Because he’s awful. And Mother would lose her shit.

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