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September 22, 2017

Dems Need To Bury The Past and Embrace The Future


Andrew Sullivan has a piece in New York magazine that in my opinion is a must read for every Democrat in the country. It’s titled, “Why Do Democrats Feel Sorry for Hillary Clinton?” and it’s the most brutally honest assessment I’ve seen not only about what happened in the 2016 election, but the current state of the Democratic Party.

Sullivan’s main premise is that Clinton was a lousy campaigner who had no one else to blame but herself for her failures. One paragraph in particular is worth noting:

Clinton had the backing of the entire Democratic establishment, including the president (his biggest mistake in eight years by far), and was even married to the last, popular Democratic president. As in 2008, when she managed to lose to a neophyte whose middle name was Hussein, everything was stacked in her favor. In fact, the Clintons so intimidated other potential candidates and donors, she had the nomination all but wrapped up before she even started. And yet she was so bad a candidate, she still only managed to squeak through in the primaries against an elderly, stopped-clock socialist who wasn’t even in her party, and who spent his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. She ran with a popular Democratic incumbent president in the White House in a growing economy. She had the extra allure of possibly breaking a glass ceiling that — with any other female candidate — would have been as inspiring as the election of the first black president. In the general election, she was running against a malevolent buffoon with no political experience, with a deeply divided party behind him, and whose negatives were stratospheric. She outspent him by almost two-to-one. Her convention was far more impressive than his. The demographics favored her. And yet she still managed to lose!

The only thing I might take issue with is the growing economy line. Yes, the economy was growing, but for approximately one-third of the country that wasn’t the case. A good look at the electoral map should tell you which third that was. Bernie Sanders – that elderly, stopped-clock socialist – sounded the alarm bell long before Adolf Shitler descended down that escalator in Trump Tower. But apart from that, Sullivan nails it.

He even blows up the popular vote argument that Clinton supporters keep invoking by comparing her loss to that of Al Gore, who also won the popular vote yet only lost the electoral college vote 271-266. “Any candidate who can win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and still manage to lose the Electoral College by 304 to 227 is so profoundly incompetent, so miserably useless as a politician, she should be drummed out of the party under a welter of derision.”

As the saying goes, the truth shall set you free, but first it’ll piss the shit out of ya. Right now, a majority of Democrats seemed stuck in the “piss the shit out of ya” mode. To a certain extent, I get it. Losing to Trump hurt a lot. I’m guessing that in the months after the Titanic sank a lot of people in the shipping industry were bewildered too. The point is they got over it; they made improvements to their ships that made them safer and more reliable, and in time, consumer confidence was restored. I see no such epiphany occurring within the Democratic Party. Sadly, just the opposite. This insanity must stop, if not for the sake of the Party, then for the sake of the whole damn world.

Look, I voted for Bill Clinton twice. I voted for Hillary three times (twice for senator and once for president). I do not regret any of those votes, nor should anyone else who did likewise. Bill was a good, if personally flawed, president, and Hillary proved to be a competent and successful senator. I also think that, despite what her far-right detractors would have you believe, she was a damn good secretary of state, and history will back me up on that.

But her time, and that of her husband’s, has come to an end. The Clintons have served their country with distinction, and, as is befitting any family with such accomplishments, they deserve our respect and our gratitude for their contributions. What they do not deserve – and what the Democratic Party can ill afford to give – is yet another bite at the apple. Not only isn’t it fair to any potential future candidates who might wish to dip their toes into the water, the message it sends to the electorate is that the Democratic Party is tone-deaf to the needs of millions of blue-collar workers. And that is the wrong message for a losing party to send.

Even great athletes know when to retire, and in case they don’t, their teams typically give them a hint by “retiring” them anyway. It’s called a youth movement, but the more accurate term is purge. Older veterans are cut to make room for younger, future stars. Democrats need to do that with Hillary. She has twice run for president and lost. Trust me, the third time will not be the charm.

Every car owner knows there comes a point when their old clunker, no matter how familiar, simply costs too much to keep on the road. All the fond memories can’t disguise the dings and the dents. Inevitably, they bite the bullet and get a new car.

The Democratic Party needs to get itself a new car, or at the very least take a few test drives.

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Peter Fegan

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