Electability Strategy


As we travelled across the country I couldn’t help but ponder about the craziness of our world political situation.  As I write this on the morning of the French election it’s obvious that they too are facing rather stunning options for their political future.  However it turns out I’m left pondering the “idea” of electability.

I have read recent opinion pieces about why the Republicans won our election, and about why the Democrats lost the election. In my mind none of them touched upon what I think is a central issue: party strategy.  It doesn’t seem that either party has a “plan” for the future. We find politicians individually coming up with programs to solve independent problems but I don’t hear a dialogue about where this country is going.  The Republicans want to cut the budget — that’s clear.  But they don’t express any goal for where this nation should be.  The Democrats want to care for the weak and the disadvantaged but they have no workable plan for how to finance that goal — in part because enough Democrats and Republicans both are rich enough that any plan to address the deep seated social problems in this country is going to have to come at the expense of the rich.  There simply isn’t money anywhere else than to get people and companies that have been skating through tax loopholes to pay their fair share.

But when I think about this bigger strategy issue I’m left with a curious question.

The Democrats enjoyed 8 years of power in the White House but suffered with a paralyzed Congress.  Now we have a unified Congress and a president from the same party but they don’t seem to agree on what they want, and worse — the only things they seem to want are to undo much of what has been done in the past 20 years.  It doesn’t take many smarts to tear things down;  what we need are people with the intelligence and wisdom to see a future and push in that direction.

Which brings us to the real question….

After 8 years of our first black President who clearly was hated by nearly 1/2 of the country, whatever made the Democrats think that it was the right time to push for another “First” with the election of a woman president?  Could they not realize that the Republican base was so tired of a Democrat in the White House that they would vote (literally) for any idiot on the ballot just to get away from a Democratic president?  I’m all for equality, but it was clear from the days of Bill Clinton that Hillary brought a lot of negative baggage with her. Could they not have said, “Let’s wait 4 years for a woman president and run a strong man who isn’t going to antagonize the Republican base and raise the voter threshold making it harder to get our person elected?”

Timing is everything in life.  We all miss wonderful opportunities because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Evidently there were not enough Democrats who were thinking strategically to realize that on the heels of our first Black President this might not be the right year to push a woman on the voting public?  The problem being that Hillary was big among women’s rights activists but she did not motivate the Party in the way the Republican did.  In this last election the Democrats turned out nearly 10 million FEWER voters than they did in the Obama years.  That many votes would have changed the election.  Instead, the ego of a few people overruled any sensible strategy.  Hillary is getting older — she may not be around or electable in 2020.  No one would admit that someone like Bernie Sanders actually had a vision for the future.  I have no idea whether Sanders could have mobilized enough votes to win over Trump.  It’s questionable.  But could the Democrats find no one with a vision for the future who was less objectionable than Hillary.  Sure, it’s past time for a woman President — but we have got to elect one at some specific point in time and 2016 wasn’t ever going to be that specific point in time:  the Dems needed more votes than Hillary could muster.

It’s clear that the U.S. presently doesn’t have any plan for the future.  The guy currently occupying the White House has changed his mind on so many issues that there’s no way of telling where he will land on any topic, and interestingly enough for a guy who claims to be so strong, most of his flip-flops have been after he has had to deal with the very people he criticized, as for example the Chinese.  His personal opinions are quickly changed when he’s beset by having to actually deal with the people he has verbally tried to bully. Too bad he can’t declare bankruptcy and avoid having to deal with them at all…. < sarcasm intended >  He is the deal-maker.  He is amoral. He doesn’t care what the terms are for any deal — it seems — he only cares if / whether he makes the deal.   Nothing is sacred it seems.  Except money.  In a nation built on principles and ideals, a pragmatist for President falls far short of what we need as a nation.  But, it’s what we have.

Somewhere there has to be a politician with a vision for the United States who can inspire the confidence and the votes of the electorate — and who’s ideas are good enough to get people to cross party lines and line up behind a true leader. He’s welcome to show his or her face any time now.  Goodness only knows we need them on the scene pronto.

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2 Comments

  1. U.S. politics make me crazy. The level of disconnect between colonial constitutional intentions and modern reality is staggering.Obviously Hillary was a mistake. What were they thinking? This Canadian can’t fathom American political disregard for domestic issues of education, civil rights, environment and infrastructure.

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    1. U.S. Politics seem to be making a LOT of people crazy. And it’s not just Canadians who can’t fathom U.S. political disregard for domestic issues!

      There was a time when the Democrat / Republican discourse was about social programs OR a balanced budget. Funny, I hear nothing about balancing the budget NOW. The terminology has changed completely and the true goal of those who are currently in power is quite obvious: a return to racism, and trying to undue all that That Black Guy did. That, and the coming into maturity of unfettered Capitalism.

      The founding fathers could never have anticipated the negative aspects of human nature that Capitalism would bring to the fore given a couple hundred years of development. It’s clear that caring for the needy is not something that will be adequately done solely on the backs of the working man/woman. To achieve a fair society in a society where extreme wealth has been allowed to congregate then social justice can only be done on the backs of the wealthiest — and our society is designed to protect them from such requirements of equal social benevolence.

      The story told by Machiavelli has not changed a wit over the years. The rich still want their power, their privilege — and they will not surrender that power easily.

      It finally sunk to, just the other day, that with a median age of +/- 38, over 1/2 of the U.S. population was not alive in the days of Richard Nixon. They do not know nor remember — firsthand — the angst this country went through the last time we had a similarly unfit-for-power President. So the fact that ousting Nixon too more than two full years — the Watergate scandal started a 26 month long birthing process that culminated in Nixon’s resignation — and the fact that he was forced to resign instead of being thrown out of office speaks to how we govern. He may not have had a Golden Parachute but resignation was a lot easier for him than being stripped of power by the people/government.

      These are very different times than those. I have no idea how the story will play out. To say that we (that is “I”) are weary with the continuing lies and bullying and just plain rude and ignorant behavior in Washington is the understatement of the year. And there is no shortcut to solution. We just have to live through it.

      But now we have a culture of career politicians in a form and in a culture very unlike the politicians who governed in 1972 — and the outcome will be very different. Very Different indeed.

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