My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination
by jonweasel, Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 06:04:53 AM EST
Cross posted, with minor edits at "Daily Obama"...
What I want to do here is detail why I'm deeply afraid that a Hillary Clinton nomination, should she manage to win that and a victory in the general election, could be a very bad thing for the long-term prospects of Democrats and progressives.
Please don't get hung up on that word "concern". I think, should Clinton win the nomination, she'll likely beat McCain in the general. This is a discussion of long-term issues. History doesn't end with the next inauguration.
To begin with, my support of and/or opposition to a given primary Democratic candidate has had very little to do with individual policy differences. Though such differences are all the rage in the blogosphere and the topic of endless hair-splitting advocacy commentary, to me all the major Democratic candidates are/were solid liberals who have made mistakes. The relatively small differences among them are a matter of degree.
What's more, I think all of the major candidates will/would have made great presidents who would accomplish much. This goes for Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Richardson, etc.
But now, we're down to two major candidates. And inevitably, one has to pick one. He or she will not be perfect; and no matter who I choose, there will be differences between that person and me on some issues.
I'm certainly not the eldest of Party elders, either here or anywhere else. I've been around about 40 years, and put more than 1/4 of that into active, online political advocacy and argumentation. I've seen politicians and arguments come and go.
What's more, I come from a Democratic family, in a rather traditional Democratic demographic: both my parents are teachers in the Arts with graduate-level degrees. So no big surprises here.
I've seen the changes of the last 30 years, as the right wing has advanced, virtually unopposed. They've moved the national discourse inevitably to the right, helped both by billions of dollars, good organization and a Left wing too divided, too insulated and too electorally tonedeaf to stop them.
When I read Markos' and Jerome's Crashing the Gate, I saw in print many of the things I'd been thinking for years: calling out worthless consultants who get hired again and again despite no real performance (CEO analogy, anyone?); pointing out the folly of ignoring more than half the country in an effort to score bare victories; noting the foolishness of divided single-issue advocacy groups unable to think strategically beyond their own immediate goals; detailing the grassroots-style politics that was now possible thanks to innovations such as the Internet.
And I agreed with just about everything they wrote.
Democrats used to contest every state, and indeed, just about every congressional district. They used to demand and expect electoral performance. And it led to a dominance in politics that lasted for much of the 20th Century and gave us many of the modern hallmarks of progressive American civilization.
But somewhere along the way, we stopped doing that. We saw what the Right Wing was doing, and we couldn't (or wouldn't) get our act together to stop them, and so we began playing defense, seeking out a smaller and smaller portion of the pie. A natural consequence of this was that the Party started moving rightward, following the GOP's electoral strategy, chasing an every-elusive bare victory.
What I dislike about Clinton, and what worries me if she gets the nomination, is that she seems to be practicing the failed electoral strategy of the 80's and 90's. And it's no wonder, considering who she has on her team.
As I noted above, Democrats used to challenge every state and every congressional district. We recently re-learned to do that, and it paid dividends in 2006. What's more, the Internet has made grassroots involvement in politics possible to an extent not practiced before.
From what I see, Clinton is taking a large step back from all of that, threatening to return us to the days of eking out victories (or suffering heartbreaking close losses) with a "50+1" strategy that too often amounts to "49". It's a return to a top-down-run party system that became stagnant, corrupt and unresponsive to the People.
Clinton is a liberal. Of that I have no doubt. But you know what? An awful lot of people out there are. These days, progressives are a dime-a-dozen.
What's important to me is engaging in a winning strategy that doesn't have progressives fighting eternal defense against an advancing right wing.
And so, I'm left supporting Barack Obama, a gifted orator with an admittedly less-than-perfect candidacy. Despite his flaws, he's embraced the 50-state-strategy with gusto, and it's put Clinton's "throwback" strategy to shame.
Currently, I see an Obama campaign taking hits from multiple sources, and I worry that Clinton's superior ability (or greater willingness) to go effectively negative will lead to a split Party and a Clinton nomination via Superdelegates. But most of all, I worry that a Clinton win, should she succeed in scoring the nomination and winning the general election, will be in spite of her strategy, not because of it -- a disproven, outmoded strategy that we can no longer afford. And should that happen, I think it would set the Democratic Party's long-term prospects back years.
Yes, it would be wonderful to have a woman for president. And I think Clinton would be a particularly good president by any measure. But I want more than that. I want to stop staying up election night, no nails left, seeing our hopes and dreams draining away because the results are close enough for the GOP to steal the Presidency.
I want more than that. We can do better.
And you know what? If Clinton were to dump McAuliffe, dump Penn, dump her other DLC/failed consultants and embrace the 50-state, grassroots strategy, it would not only convert me from someone who would hold his nose while voting to an enthusiastic supporter (should she win the nomination). It would, IMHO, also make her pretty much unbeatable.