Socialists in support of a billionaire
An interview with @PritzkerForPrez
In June, a bewildering new political Twitter account stormed onto the scene. Racking up over 11,000 followers (and counting) in just six weeks, Socialists for Pritzker, an account centered around hyping up a potential run for the White House from Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, was rapidly taking over left-wing political Twitter.
Governor Pritzker, as you may know, is worth an estimated $3.6 billion, largely owing to his family ownership of the Hyatt hotel chain — so I was very intrigued that an account that seems to be genuine about its leftist politics would decide to promote Governor Pritzker as a potential primary challenger to Preisdent Joe Biden in 2024.
I reached out to the account owner, highlighting my past hard hitting journalism about deeply online political accounts, and he graciously agreed to set up an interview. The following is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for readability.
Can you introduce yourself?
Oh, I’m just a guy from Illinois who got bored on a weekday and decided to start a Pritzker 2024 Twitter page. I like to pretend I helped drive the newfound national J.B. interest, but mainly, I think I just started the page at the exact right time to ride some momentum.
What inspired you to launch a Socialists for Pritzker Twitter page?
First off, I do consider myself a democratic socialist — albeit a somewhat cynical one, post-Bernie Sanders — and I think 2024 is inevitably going to be a sort of placeholder election for the American left. Bernie is too old and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is too young and currently in a lower office, and we just don’t yet have much of a bench at the federal level.
I could be very happy with a competent left-liberal who actually wants to get things done, so that’s sort of where my Pritzker-posting impulse came from. I think he’s impressed a lot of us with his performance in Illinois, just as liberal who will aggressively use his legislative majorities to do what the base wants. He’s introduced a statewide $15 minimum wage, ended private immigration detention, invested his promised $45 billion for roads, bridges, railroads, universities, early childhood centers and state facilities over the next six years, abolished cash bail, expanded detainee rights, required police body cameras, expanded abortion access with more to come in a special summer legislative session, created paid COVID sick leave for school employees, banned ghost guns, and has basically followed the Chicago Teacher’s Union on most of their education priorities.
It’s unfair to compare Biden to that, since he just has a worse political reality, but it’s also hard to escape a sort of rhetorical lackadaisicalness from the national [Democratic] party right now. And that’s something I’ve never felt from J.B. While the broader left movement tries to focus on down ballot elections particularly at the state legislative level, which is where I think we see the best prospects for progressive policy in the coming decade, I’d be very happy with J.B. for a spell and want to share that point of view. Even if it’s usually with jokes.
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Did you expect the page to blow up as much as it has?
I expected it to gain a little ground, but I didn’t expect to be interviewed for the Washington Post about it 30 days after making the account. I think it sort of struck a chord. Clearly, jaded lefties and Twitter irony posters aren’t the only ones following the page. A lot of liberals are too and I think that speaks to just how fed up with this administration everyone is. Roe being overturned seemed like the final straw for a lot of people — national leaders basically had no response planned outside of singing patriotic hymns on the Capitol building steps. It really was a moment where blue state governors got to be a lot more forceful and assertive than the Biden Administration, and I think people noticed that.
And again, obviously, that could be unfair — you could look at Biden and Pritzker and reasonably conclude that the only difference between them is the size of their legislative majorities. But even rhetorically, a leader is meant to lead, and Sleepy Joe has more than earned his moniker in his responses to most crises. It just feels like even as his goals turn into sand and slip through his fingers, there is no urgency.
Have you been contacted by Governor Pritzker or his team? How do you think they feel about your account? I saw that his campaign manager followed you.
Nope, although that would be fun. I have heard through the grapevine that he and his team are quite aware of the account though. I hope they enjoy it and buy some t-shirts.
As a socialist, how do you feel about Governor Pritzker’s estimated personal net worth of $3.6 billion?
I would like for him to have to redistribute his enormous sum of money. However, if we make him President, I will settle for him passing the PRO Act.
Do you think Governor Pritzker should run for President? If so, in 2024?
I absolutely think so. Biden is currently less popular than Trump ever was, and even if he recovers a bit of popularity, he’s going to have painfully few accomplishments to tout in 2024. And that’s without noting the fact that he’ll be, I think, 82 in 2024 [Editor’s note: this is correct], looking down the barrel of being an 86 year old man as he leaves office. Just physically, can he take it?
[Vice President] Kamala Harris is little better. Her political accomplishments include underperforming other Democrats statewide when being elected in California and dropping out before a single vote was cast in 2020. Joe Biden resurrected her national career after she blew a mountain of cash and all of her glowing media spots and I imagine he’s been kicking himself ever since. She is not a skilled communicator or politician, and if that sounds harsh, just keep in mind that it’ll pale in comparison to the KHive calling in bomb threats to my job if they ever read this and find out my identity.
J.B. is a Midwesterner, too rich to be bought by special interests, doesn’t come off as snooty or overly-intellectual or condescending, and has a real record of accomplishments. All good things for a Democratic nominee.
How do you feel about the general “multiverse” approach to political organizing on Twitter, perhaps first made famous by the Markeyverse? Do you think it can translate into real world impact?
I don’t want to pretend Twitter is real life, but a lot of media figures spend time on Twitter. So your conduct on Twitter can help shape a larger narrative that influential people write about or feature on their television shows. At least a few articles about J.B. Pritzker over the past two weeks came out because some blue check saw a lot of people tweeting about Pritzker on their timeline. I think a bunch of people joining the Pritzkerverse can help this happen.
And it’s important to stay chill, don’t go crazy like the KHive, trying to ruin peoples lives if they disagree with you politically. Even with us Bernie Bros, who were always way more chill than Kamala Harris fans, a bunch of negative press was cherrypicked using a relatively small number of accounts. It’s important to stay positive and not give anyone the opportunity to generate bad press for your candidate.
Do you interact with the other X for Pritzker accounts?
Sometimes! Now there’s a ridiculous number, so it’s hard to keep track. But I hope they keep getting made. We’re building a movement.
What’s Governor Pritzker’s plan to handle people who live in the northern suburbs but tell people that they’re from Chicago?
His benevolent police-state will include chips implanted in everyone’s arms. You’ll be able to scan it and immediately know the person’s city-of-origin. Also, we will have Medicare For All.
Do you think Governor Priztker has read Marx?
If he hasn’t, he should DM me. I know some great book clubs.
Things I Enjoyed This Week
Thoughts On Therapy | The Real Sarah Miller
Hot Air: Postal Experiments | Improbable Research
Abolish States | The Alex Pareene Newsletter
When Private Equity Becomes Your Landlord | ProPublica
Is the United States ready for a second billionaire president? Would the left really convalesce behind a man worth more than Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, and the entire GDP of Belize? These are questions I never though I would consider in 2020, but Biden’s historic under-performance and dismal reputation, combined with the directionless of the national Democratic Party, has left anything possible in 2024.
Thank you again to Socialists For Pritzker for speaking with IBT. Do you have another online profile you want to see interviewed? Leave a comment and let me know.
Thank you as always for reading and don’t forget to check your voter registration.