The Primary Isn't Over
And maybe white people shouldn't decide everything?
Me too Anchovy me too
It was another big night for Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg last night in New Hampshire. Bernie won by just over one percentage point — close to how he did in Iowa — and he and Pete walked away with the same number of delegates. The story of the night, though, was “Klobmentum”: Amy Klobuchar’s surprising rise from one of many at the bottom to third place.
This is all good and fine, but I’m troubled by the extent to which we let two overwhelmingly white and rural states set the narrative for a party that is more diverse and urban. I’m troubled by the extent to which novelty is turned into a story that trumps consistency, fueling some candidates while undermining those who have had strong showings all along. I get it, this is a horse race, and an underdog surging is part of what makes the process exciting — but media-makers pretend to be unaware that they can certainly give that surge an assist with overwhelming fawning coverage and the establishment of a “surge” narrative.
And yes obviously I am disappointed with Warren’s showing last night. I don’t know if she will recover. And I actually don’t think that having Iowa and New Hampshire go first are what hurt her campaign. But I do think that, whether these states help or hurt the candidate I happen to like, this is a fundamentally undemocratic way of doing things.
Democratic voters really, really care about beating Trump (I suspect a large number of Bernie voters care more about fundamentally altering the country than about electability, but of course they badly want their guy to win and believe he’s the best bet to beat Trump). But that means that, aside from those who have a die-hard allegiance to a particular inspirational candidate — anecdotally, this largely means Bernie or Yang voters — voters aren’t just asking, “who do I like?” but “who will America like?”
“America” looks really different if you’re sitting in nearly all-white Iowa than if you’re sitting in Los Angeles or Houston or Raleigh. The more racially diverse, better-educated, urban-dwellers of America largely vote Democratic. They haven’t had a chance to vote in this primary, but they are reading and hearing about who has done well already. That feeds narratives of who is “electable” and who is worth supporting in later primaries. It shapes who ends up being the nominee — and weights white voices and preferences over those of people of color.
We need to do things differently. Nothing is going to change this year. But the Democratic Party needs to get itself together and come up with a primary system that is fair and representative of our entire party, and isn’t explicitly structured so that white people lead the way.
What I’m Writing
…not that much, because I’m writing a book, but here’s the latest:
What I’m Eating
My friend Jamelle Bouie shares recipes in his newsletter and I love it (do you subscribe to his newsletter? You should). I know I’ve sent out a few of my own before, but he also includes other peoples’ recipes that he’s making, which is just brilliant. I cook a lot at home, mostly (but not exclusively) without dairy, soy or wheat because those things tend to upset my stomach (although I do make an occasional amazing pasta and how can you never cook with butter?). In any case, I’ll share some of what I’m making here.
¼ cup raw sticky rice or 2 tablespoons roasted rice powder (available at Asian markets)
16ounces coarsely ground or finely chopped white- or dark-meat chicken (lean beef, such as sirloin, can be substituted)
½teaspoon hot chile powder, preferably Thai or Lao
4teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
5teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
¼cup slivered red onions
2tablespoons chopped cilantro
2tablespoons sliced scallions
10whole mint leaves, more for serving
cucumber spears, for serving
4cups cooked sticky or jasmine rice, for serving
Notes: If you’re doing a low-carb thing or Paleo or Whole30 or Keto or whatever you kids are doing this days (or if you don’t want rice, or you can’t find sticky rice powder and don’t have a spice grinder), I’ve been substituting toasted cashews. Either grind raw cashews or chop them up and then drag the side of a knife over them a bunch of times to crush them into a powder, and toast on a very hot dry pan until they are golden brown, shaking often so they don’t scorch. I will be honest: I have made this recipe with both cashews and sticky rice powder, and it’s way better with the rice powder. But make your own choices re: balancing flavor / laziness / carbohydrate intake.
I also make this recipe with pork, which is great. Ground beef is fine but less great. If you can get alligator that’s actually really good too.
As you can see from the photo, I served this with a tom khai gai soup. I’ll send out that recipe later this week. Both the soup and the larb keep well for a day or so, and the leftover larb is especially great if you plop a fried egg on it for breakfast.
And finally, it’s extra delicious to top this with a mix of Thai basil and fried things: Heat coconut oil in a small pan, and throw in one sliced shallot (sliced into rings), a sliced clove or two of garlic, and a sliced chili pepper (I use a habanero but I like spicy; birds eye works well too). Make ‘em nice and crispy and put them on top, with hand-torn Thai basil if you can get it, when you serve.
To make roasted rice powder, heat a wok or skillet over high heat. Add raw rice and cook, stirring often, until rice is toasted and dark brown, but not black, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside to cool. Grind to a coarse powder in a mortar, blender or coffee grinder; set aside.
To cook chicken, heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add 2 tablespoons water, then add chicken, stirring constantly to break up any lumps. Cook just until cooked through, about two minutes, then transfer to mixing bowl. While chicken is just warm, add remaining ingredients (except for garnishes) and roasted rice powder. Mix gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Mixture should be tangy, salty and lightly spicy.
Spoon onto serving plate and surround with mint, lettuce and cucumber. Serve with rice. If serving with sticky rice, pinch some off, mold into a small ball and dip into larb, scooping up a little of each ingredient. Or scoop larb into lettuce leaves.
Happy eating, reading, and saving the republic from all-white voters.