Three cantankerous guys, in their late 70s, all with hair challenges, go to a club. The bouncer stops them, and asks why he should let them in?
"I have an overzealous, flat percentage of feverish fans that support me with their $5 and $10 bills. I'm stubborn as a mule. Just had a heart attack, but see no need to release my medical records. It doesn't matter anyway. I, like everyone else, should be on Medicare. Everything should be free. Costs be damned! Furthermore, the wealthy are running and ruining this country..."
"That's enough, and no need to shout," the bouncer snaps. "How about you?" he says to the next guy.
"I've been saying from the beginning of this race that I can restore honor and decency to government. I have been in politics longer than your parents have been alive, and I don't need any on the job training, and I have the experience to go to work on day one in the White House. Who needs a Bernie bro? I have a Barack bro! These other guys are full of malarkey!"
"Ok, ok, I get it," the bouncer nods. "I'm not sure you're going to be able to hang in this club all night?"
"And you, sir?" the bouncer inquires of the third guy.
"As I'm wont to say, the fact of the matter is that I've switched political parties four times. And the star of my costly ads, Barack, is my bro, replacing W and Rudy, who used to be. Yes, I have been dismissive and grotesque towards people of color and women, and I've apologized. But I'll give you $100 to let me and the other two guys in. And I'll give you an extra $50 if you let me in first."
"Money! Nice!" the bouncer exclaims. "Hand over your coin!"
The bouncer takes the money, unhooks the velvet rope from the stanchion, and lets the three guys in.
"Welcome to Club Primary," the bouncer intones as he shakes his head in disbelief.
Mike Bloomberg, followed by Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, all walk into the pulsing club, where the music, dance moves, dress code, crowd behavior and diversity make them look out of place, out of date, ill-defined, and uncomfortable.
In a society driven and inspired by youth; where youth is celebrated and vainly pursued; where hopes and dreams are placed on the next generation; where technology zooms ahead fueled by Gen X, Y and Z's addictive reliance; where Botox, Peloton, and wearables tamp down aging; where 60 is the new 50, 50 the new 40, and 40 the new 30, how did we end up with three old white men leading the Democratic primary polls at this moment, amidst this youth obsessed culture?
How does a Democratic party that tout's diversity, emboldens people of color, waves the rainbow flag, champions women, and rails on a system of government that for generations has been ruled, controlled, operated and bought by old, white men, find itself with three old white men at the top of so many primary polls?
Out of these three old white men, we have one who is calling for a revolution. Whose "Bros" are gaining a reputation as Twitter thugs. Who had a mysterious heart attack months ago, and who in 30 years in Congress has not passed one major piece of legislation bearing his name.
The next has been in politics for nearly 50 years and has his name on a slew of bills, some controversial that have been detrimental to Blacks, Browns, and women. Who has a record that can be torn apart, manipulated, and maligned. Who has failed miserably running for president twice before, and sometimes comes across as too old, too out of it, or too bored.
Finally, there's the Democrat, who turned Republican, who turned Independent, who turned Democrat, who welcomed George W. Bush and the Republican convention to New York City in 2004 with open and ebullient arms. Who's stop and frisk and "kill it" and "he, she, or it" has infuriated people of color, women, and LGBTQ people, and who buys his way around the norms and rules.
So, is this what the Democratic party will most likely be left with at the end of the primary season? A leadership board with a split percentage of the vote, a confused constituency and a choice of the less of the three elderly evils?
Who wins? Who loses? Who cares? And who goes onto the general election? Then, who can win? Who will get trounced? Who can stand up against a vicious bully? Who will be torn apart by a scorched Earth campaign? Whose record of achievement will stand out? Whose long history in politics will be stamped out? Whose temperament will look preferable to the alternative? Or whose behavior will look just as worse? Who will look more cranky? Who will look less crabby? Do we go with the one in his late 70s? Or do we stay with the one in his mid-70s?
For Democrats, it's going to be about how they make a drinkable glass of lemonade out of the three over-ripe lemons. When the Democratic primary race began, the party had such high expectations for getting a candidate who looked like America. They had hope that a woman like Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren could finally be the first female president. Julian Castro and Corey Booker flashed and then dashed, so no first run for a Hispanic contender or second run for a Black candidate. And then there' s Mayor Pete. Many dreamed for a moment, after Iowa and New Hampshire, that a gay man could remarkably lead the ticket, but the rest of the country will most likely say nay to gay.
What's left will possibly be three white, hair-challenged septuagenarians. When the message of perception counts as much as the proficiency of policy, will Democrats come up short in choosing a nominee that represents and typifies a bright sundry future to combat a president who embodies a dark pasty past?
How did we get here when there was so much possibility to go elsewhere?
For Sanders, Biden, and Bloomberg it's going to come down to money, messaging and moxie. And if it's one of them, will they have the fortitude, resiliency and wherewithal to go all the way? Who will be the last one left in Club Primary?
JohnCasey is a PR professional and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in New York City, and a frequent columnist for The Advocate. Follow John on Twitter @johntcaseyjr.