The strength of the Democratic Party is in its diverse and inclusive base. That’s why it’s often referred to as the “Big Tent Party.” Unfortunately, that is also its ‘Achilles hills’ when it comes to getting a general consensus on issues and nothing more has demonstrated this phenomenon than the current presidential race involving former Secretary Hilary Rodham Clinton. After riding high in the polls among democrats leading up to her announcement, she is now barely in the lead in some key early primary states.
For four years while serving as the Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton enjoyed one of the highest ratings of any government officials in the Obama presidency. Her diplomatic travels and accomplishments received critical acclaim. But almost immediately from when she declared her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, she has come under withering criticism on many issues. Chief among these is the email controversy that has not abated and continues to drive down her favorable opinion in the polls. The media has continued to dwell on this issue even though no one has made any case of any particular law that she broke.
In the current political climate, it is arguable that as Donald Trump leads the Republican field, a solid democratic presidential nominee stands a good chance of winning the presidency in 2016. The question is will the party take advantage of this? Beginning last week and in the current news circle, the news has all been about whether vice president Joe Biden would jump into the race or not. He is rumored to be seriously considering the possibility and that the president has given him the green light to run if he so desire. If he indeed enters the race, this will probably have the effect of further diminishing Secretary Clinton’s lead. Some have argued that it is a good thing to have as many candidates as possible vie for the Democratic nomination such as there are on the Republican side; and that this has the effect of making the eventual winner combat-ready for the general election race. While I will concede that some measure of competition is good for the race, but experience has shown that unless the Democratic base are energized as they were during 2008/2012 presidential elections respectively, they don’t usually turn out in great numbers.
Examples of such lackluster performance in contested elections by the base abound. The 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush is a prime example. Then there are the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014. This phenomenon even extends to gubernatorial elections, such as the 2014 Massachusetts and Maryland elections where a predominantly Democratic state failed to elect a democrat to the governor’s office. In the current situation, what really is the vice president going to bring to the table that will really make a difference? There is really not that much of a difference between them. If anything, the VP seems to have fallen to Hilary Clinton’s political right since she has moderated her mostly centrist positions of yester years. And we know that today, progressive agenda is all the craze.
One of the unfortunate characteristics of progressives is the tendency to sometimes posit perfection as the enemy of the good. When that happens, we tend to get into this circular firing mentality where people with minor shades of differences become mortal enemies and we begin to question their liberal/progressive ‘bonafides’. Bernie Sanders, with his avowed socialist bent, has been espousing what most progressives would like to see and I for one applaud him for that. But in the end, we must face reality. This country is not going to elect Bernie Sanders with the list of what he has been saying no matter how many people flock to hear him say that. As it is right now, there is not much distance between him and HRC. Unlike Sanders, however, Hilary is a proven commodity. The so-called email controversy is really a non-issue. No one has made a case for anything or law that she has broken and there does not appear to be one. Just because there are inter-agency squabbles about what and when items are classified does not mean she is hiding anything. Progressives just need to grow some backbone, quit being feckless and throw their support behind her.
The presidency of Barack Obama has done a lot to begin to change this country for the better. Progressives need someone to protect and continue that legacy. We cannot afford the mistake of 2000 where we let a very winnable election slip away. Thanks to Donald Trump, the Republican Party is self-destructing as we speak. So let’s not snatch victory from the mouth of defeat by dividing our allegiances and leaving the base confused. Hilary may not be the perfect candidate, but that does not mean she is not good enough. She is by far, the most electable of anyone running within the Democratic Party and that includes the VP.