The Portal: The Greys are gonna run someone for President in 2024
Someone asked Bobby Kennedy if they should run for some office once. Bobby’s only question: “Do you know you can win?”
The person said he wasn’t sure. In that case, Bobby said, he shouldn’t run.
Kennedys, it seems, only ran when they knew they could win. It must be nice to be a Kennedy.
This is an account I remember from a really good book that was sadly out of print the last time I checked, but I always recommend that people who like political campaigns read it. The book, An American Melodrama, (1968), is about the first election that gave us Richard Nixon and that lost us Bobby Kennedy.
I bought a used old paperback copy and read it with relish years ago, a little before Obama won. Many anecdotes from that account besides the one above have stuck with me.
American elections by and large aren’t just about winning. I’ve known a number of people who ran for some office knowing they would lose because it would raise their esteem, win them business or advance some cause they cared about. U.S. Presidential elections are, however, more about winning than any other kind of election, and so it is important for those who engage in Presidential politics to think carefully about Bobby’s advice.
I’m writing this on a blog, as you can see, and I think the blogosphere / podosphere / blogopodosphere is thinking about getting more political than it has been. In fact, I have a prediction to make.
Prediction: The Grey Tribe will run someone for President in 2024. I feel it building. This bid starts with Eric Weinstein.
In case you aren’t familiar, “The Grey Tribe” is a notion made famous by a classic Slate Star Codex post called “I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup”. SSC is having a bit of a moment right now, as an aside, but this post would have been relevant either way. It’s basically, the tech forward Left.
You know, socially progressive, maybe a bit fiscally complex, probably lives on a Coast. Etc. Etc. They tend to hang with Democrats but they kind of have their own politics. They might be bubbling into a baby culture of their own (baby culture rather than a subculture, as in a living and distinct thing that could become an adult). Right now the mainstream media is focused on the “rationalists,” but there’s also the post-rationalists, an adjacent critique of rationalists pretty much limited to the Valley.
And rationalists take a lot of forms.
But those are the youth.
The older ones, the seniors, are known as this “Intellectual Dark Web,” which is sort of like Weird Twitter, in that most of its members like to say that they aren’t actually a thing but they are definitely a thing. The main difference here is just that the IDW crowd is, by and large, older and maybe a little bit more University-oriented.
And the Dirtbag Left is probably also adjacent here. Its loyalties are unclear, right now.
All these groups are made up of smart, edgy, meme-ready internet denizens who are politically engaged but unsatisfied with the present narratives of both the mainstream Left and Right.
Well Weinstein named the Intellectual Dark Web. He’s a progressive fellow who works for Peter Thiel and runs this podcast called “The Portal.” He calls it that because he wants to create an auditory space in which listeners can escape the oppressive present conversation and talk about real stuff in real ways, with no apologies and verbal ablutions everyone feels compelled to make these days.
I think Weinstein reads to a lot of people as a Capitalist Spin Doctor, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Whatever he is, in this space, I think he’s kind of like Bill Hicks was to standup comedy. Comedians and hardcore comedy fans loved him but the casual listener wasn’t really sure what to make of Hicks.
Weinstein works sort of like that. People deep in these worlds all like him but he doesn’t have that broad name recognition of like a Joe Rogan or even a Scott Alexander (the writer of Slate Star Codex, mentioned above).
But Weinstein in particular is looking past November 2020, already accepting that he’s going to be disgusted by the outcome this year. He spells this out in his essay opening a recent episode, featuring New Yorker writer Andrew Marantz.
(Marantz is also the author of a book I listened to a couple months ago, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, about what social media has enabled in rightwing politics)(I would definitely recommend Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement, from 2009 as a companion).
At the beginning of the episode he makes a call to start building something to make it impossible that our two parties present a ridiculous pair of candidates once again, neither of which are broadly acceptable to a large portion of Americans. The man does not like Vice-President Joe Biden nor President Donald Trump.
But the first time I got hip to Weinstein’s fervor here was listening to his appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience from April where, to my ears, he came right up to the line of asking Rogan to run in 2020 and did not because it became clear it would not fly. Incidentally, I looked it up: Rogan has way more Twitter followers now than Trump had when he declared. For whatever that’s worth. I have no idea how that works out relative to growth of Twitter since.
Meanwhile, as this is being revised for the worldwide web, Weinstein’s brother, Bret, is banging the drum for this Dark Horse Duo idea. He wants two independents, one a little left, one a little right, to team up and run now. It would be very surprising if that happened but the narrative could start a conversation that bleeds over into the next election.
A part of why I am doing this blog is to sort out a larger story to tell about the coolmic brain culture that’s coming together online, but I thought it was going to be an intellectual story (it might still be!), but I’m becoming convinced that it will also be a political and maybe a movement story, in the relatively near term.
If that’s right, I’m calling it: Eric Weinstein will have been the catalyst.
I’m not going to make a call about whether or not the blogopodoshphere can win, and only the Kennedys have the luxury of making decisions like Kennedys. Nevertheless, I am just going to leave this (perhaps unnecessary) note out in the cosmic ether to say: Righteousness doesn’t win the U.S. Presidency; it also takes a plan.