My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination

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.

Background

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.

The Decision

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.

Tags: 50-State Strategy, barak obama, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton (all tags)

Comments

26 Comments

Take it for what it's worth

I know there will be disagreements on this, and I know some will take this the wrong way.  I'm not hating on Clinton -- I'm disagreeing with her strategy choices, and would like to see her change up.

by jonweasel 2008-03-08 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Take it for what it's worth

I do not believe it is a winning electrol stategy. Esentially Sen Obama is exploiting a loophole in the design of the primary system.The GE is not a caucus and there is no proportional representation. Electrol votes are given to the winner of each state.

by indydem99 2008-03-08 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination

I think she needs both - grassroots tend to engage younger voters in my experience.  It should be no surprise that Obama does well with them due to his grassroots organization.  I would agree that her current strategy is very much like Bill's was, but you need to think of that in context - it worked before and she is successful amongst demographics that respond well to it traditionally.

If she could fuse them, based on polls and just my knowledge of the South and the Midwest, she'll be a dangerous challenger to McCain in the Upland South, Midwest Mississippi States, Florida and possibly Virginia.

by ejintx 2008-03-08 06:15AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination

HRC is a smart politician and has learned from her recent mistakes. She has made changes in her statergy and am sure she will include the 50 state statergy when she becomes the president.

BHO is also going to be a big palyer in the coming years even if he does not become the VP nominee.

by indus 2008-03-08 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination
Obama has capitalized on the foundation Dean began. Good for him!
The question for Obama supporters is - is Obama's grassroots strategy only for a Pres. Obama or for a Democratic president?
Was Obama's push to register Dem voters only for the purpose of promoting Pres. Obama - or the Dem Party?
I ask - because many Obama supporters claim they won't vote for Hillary.
by annefrank 2008-03-08 08:29AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination

This is true.  Of course, it's also true vice-versa, as a MyDD poll from yesterday indicated.

I rather think that most Dems, when push comes to shove and after several months of Dem vs. GOP'er campaigning, will vote the ticket.

Hopefully, Obama's work building party apparatus would be available to Clinton if she got the nod, and hopefully, Clinton would make good use of it.

by jonweasel 2008-03-08 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination

Alot of the pundits, for what that is worth have said Obama could potentially win big or lose big.  After last weeks primaries the doubts about his electability have reappeared. He had the money, the momentium and some say the MSM behind him and he couldnt seal the deal. BTW, a real nice diary.

by Safe at Home 2008-03-08 06:18AM | 0 recs
Clintons learn

I think Clinton is learning. And learning pretty quickly. Negative or not, she ran an excellent campaign in both Ohio and Texas. If she keeps this up in the fall, she will win the Presidency.

by moi moi 2008-03-08 06:28AM | 0 recs
There are many negatives

to a Hillary nomination that Obama is not able to point out himself but hopefully his surrogates will.

Do we really want to relive all the 90's drama again?

I sure don't.

by puma 2008-03-08 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: There are many negatives

What was the drama of the 90s?  Care to remind us?

by Sieglinde 2008-03-08 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: There are many negatives

It was that damn unprecedented growth again!

by ejintx 2008-03-08 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: There are many negatives

22 million new jobs. In Feb America LOST 63,000 jobs. As the Obama supporters are fond of saying, you do the math.

by Safe at Home 2008-03-08 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: There are many negatives

Must be it.

by Sieglinde 2008-03-08 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination

The nineties weren't bad in my opinion, even in the opinions of Democrats voting for Obama over Hillary...

I agree the Clinton Sex Scandal of all independent investigations was the defining moment of Bill's--not Hillary's presidency.
Even now, I still support Hillary all the way to the convention...and McCain, thereafter, if I'm forced to do so.

by Check077 2008-03-08 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re:

LOL@the failed electoral policies of the 90's. Do you want to know the real reason Republicans hate Bill and Hillary Clinton. They don't like to lose and the Clinton's kicked their butt.

Sure we lost Congress but how important is it really? What have Nancy and Harry gotten done except for the minimum wage??? Have they profoundly changed Washington? Is the war over? Nope because in this day and age the presidency is everything.

Also we lost Congress but it was worth the risk. The first two years of the Clinton Administration they really tried to change things and the GOP became the party of no.

The Clintons fought for universal health care

They enacted an economic plan which turned the country around but they paid the price short term

The gays in the military flap. Bill tried, at least he raised the issue but he got blasted for it. Hillary will end it and the country is more open to the idea today than in 1993

by rossinatl 2008-03-08 07:25AM | 0 recs
90's

In my opinion, Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992 not because of the "swing-state strategy", but in spite of it.

Clinton is a rare politician, with rare political skill.  He was also facing a dud of an opponent in 1992, who himself was facing a divided caucus thanks in part to Perot.

I believe Bill Clinton was able to overcome a strategy that overall has been a loser for Democrats for nearly 30 years.  But it's not a ticket for long-term success.

We simply cannot depend upon the strength of political skill and personality alone to win power.  And no matter what some Obama supporters seem to think, I believe he's doing as well as he is not primarily because of his oratorical skills (which are, indeed, formidable), but rather due to the ground-game, contest-every-state electoral strategy his campaign is running.

by jonweasel 2008-03-08 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: 90's

I just want to say i totally support he 50 state plan but i only support it in terms of Congress. However, I can see no historical data that says the 50 state plan is a good model for the presidential election.  And as for Dems winning the white house if you want to talk about a failed model think NE liberal ideology senator running for presdident.  And before it starts NE liberals rock and are an important part of the party.

But they always lose the GE.  McGovern, Mondale, Dukaksi, and Kerry.  And the reason they lose is simple they can not carry Reagan Democracts, period.

Now lets look at Democratic candidates that either won the GE or the popular vote.  LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and Gore.  Now i understand that the BO campaign thinks they are a transforming force and will change american politics but you know the voters have a way of deciding elections and they might not be interested in this transformation.

HRC, on the other is using a traditional model to win the WH.  That is lock down Reagan democratics in the GE.  This is the same model Bill Clinton used.  He won Reagan dems.  

Like it or not the GOP has a real advantage in the electoral college and without OH it is almost impossible for a dem to win the WH and for BO it will require winning CO.  And i gets a little tried hearing about how BO is more electable. BO supporters want me to nominate a liberal senator who's only chance to win the WH is to win CO.  And you wonder why i support HRC.

And one last thing.  The only liberal who has won the GE was JFK and he doesnt win without putting LBJ on the ticket and he locked in Reagan dems.

david

by giusd 2008-03-08 10:00AM | 0 recs
Re: 90's

The JFK comment is so true - he did need Johnson.  It's almost like how Clinton and Obama will need each other.

by ejintx 2008-03-08 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: 90's

WORD,

david

by giusd 2008-03-08 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination

The drama is being waged on the net roots daily.  They think that a successful Obama campaign means destroying Clinton.  Obama has been trying to do that for this whole past year.  It has been Obama who has linked Clinton to Bush claiming that her vote on Iraq was tantamount to marching the troops into Iraq herself, which I dispute.  The self fulfilling prophecy has a bad effect, they become the very thing they decry.  By constant hate filling their own campaign it leaks into the public.  The Obama campaign believes that Clinton will say or do anything to get elected, but it is the Obama campaign that is saying or doing anything to get the nomination.  This hatred may seem like a good idea at the time but when it gets on the public airwaves it lets us see what they tell each other and themselves all the time.
The problem with the net haters is they generate hate.  That is exactly what is happening so that neither candidate seems electable or likable.

Hillary has been reminding people that we need a united party this fall, she has even been open to a combined ticket, but Obama is too arrogant and self centered for that even though he should be thankful for the hand out because as it has become obvious, he cannot unite this party by himself.  She sees that, he does not, hence his conceited statement that he could get Hillary voters but she could not get his voters, what a crock that is.

Obama does not have the necessary experience, that is what he lacks as a viable candidate, the sooner he realizes that the better, if he were VP then he could cruise into the WH easily.  To win the WH a person must have the qualifications.  Obama just doesn't have them, but he could get them if he were to invest in the time and effort to do so.  This is why he should take her offer of VP instead of thinking he could actually win this thing.  In a GE he just can't claim enough gravitas to win.

Typical man who thinks he, by virtue of just being there, deserves it, he doesn't. You supposition that Clinton does not want to pursue a 50 state strategy is not accurate though.  I do think some of both Clinton and Obama's advisers are out of line, not well serving their candidate, but I would not presume to select them for them.

by democrat voter 2008-03-08 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: My concerns with a Hillary Clinton nomination
Agree!
Yes - Obama has done much to divide Democrats - to date.
His underlying campaign theme has been more about "beat the bitch!" - not unity - and this is seen throughout Obamabot diaries.
Even today - he rejects being VP nominee. Very divisive. Obama is shortsighted and thinks a neutral response would be "giving in to Hillary."
And yet - he claims to be a "uniter" - but his actions and responses to conflict say otherwise.
ObamaWay or the highway.
by annefrank 2008-03-08 08:37AM | 0 recs
Plain and Simple

If she cannot win the White House, she wants McCain to beat Obama in the GE.  She's been clearing the ground for him via her confirmation of his being "ready to cross the commander-in-chief threshold" and his "lifetime of experience."

And democrat voter posting above needs to do his/her research on what "experience" entails.  Clinton has next to zero foreign policy experience and no executive experience.  Obama has more legislative experience than she does (FACT).  And she continues to exaggerate, and shamelessly lie, about all of her non-achievements.

by NorthDallasForty 2008-03-08 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Plain and Simple

See, I'm not sure I agree with those sentiments.  While I think some of Clinton's current "kitchen sink" strategy is poorly thought out and is not in the best interests of winning in November, I think she is simply a "to the death" campaigner who wants to win -- and that's not a bad trait in a Democrat.

by jonweasel 2008-03-08 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Plain and Simple

Please - if HRC has no forgein policy experience, then BHO has negative forgein policy experience. A speech he made in 2002 when he was running for the IL senate is not going to get him elected ( even though 60% electorate thinks IRAQ war was a bad idea). He voted exactly the same way as HRC after he nominated. He said in the meet the press in 2004 that he did not how he would have voted if he was in the US senate.

HRC does not want to bring this up in a TV ad but the GOP is surely going to show this - they made Kerry a flip flopper and a war opponent when he was a War Hero.

by indus 2008-03-08 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Obama's Foreign Policy Experience?

WHAT foreign policy experience does Barack Obama have? None. And, when he had the chance to get some, as Chair of a Foreign Relations Sub-committee which included Afghanistand and NATO, he was "too busy" running for President to hold one hearing. In other words--Barack Obama thinks he doesn't need any foreign policy knowledge to be the world's most important leader.

Now, THAT's a problem--both for Barack Obama, and for this country. It's arrogance and conceit magnified.

Hillary Clinton has a lot of foreign policy experience--and it has been posted here in numerous diaries over the course of the past few months. Her foreign policy experience, as recounted by dozens of Flag Officers in all branches of the military, by former CIA analysts who have briefed her, by foreign leaders who have worked personally with her on European issues, African issues, Middle East issues, and today, even Northern Ireland issues. She's on the Armed Services Committee, and she was the ONLY Senator asked to join the Pentagon's transformation advisory board at the Dept of Defense. She's met with world leaders, engaged them on serious and substantive issues of importance to this country.

She's never been the president: That's why she's running for President now. But, it's spectacularly silly to say Sen. Hillary Clinton--who by the way has been a Senator for 7 years--doesn't have any foreign policy experience that qualifies her to be president.

She has far more experience than Sen. Obama, who began running for president the moment he arrived in the Senate in 2005. He has literally NO foreign policy experience, and it showed starkly when he made his dangerously stupid comment about invading Pakistan.

If it's 3 am, I want Hillary Clinton on the other end of that phone call. I want the "nuclear football" in capable and qualified--and mature--hands.

This country should not be in the hands of someone who made SIX "Oops" votes while in the Illinois Senate, when he claims he "pushed the wrong button!" This country should not be in the hands of someone who would have to call someone else to tell him what to do.

Sen. Obama is not ready for prime time.

by Tennessean 2008-03-08 08:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Plain and Simple
See - your twisted comment about Hillary wanting McCain to beat Obama just perpetuates the "beat the bitch!" theme - so prevalent in Obamabots comments and diaries.
Perhaps you're one who will NOT vote for Hillary - under any circumstances! - furthering the Hillary-hate the Repubs began in 1992.
Are you a Democrat or an Obamacrat?
by annefrank 2008-03-08 08:45AM | 0 recs

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