Last night I endured considerable babbling from the television pundits about Barack Obama’s first quarter fundraising results. Consensus among the bobbleheads is that all those little people who gave nickles and dimes to Sen. Obama instead of Sen. Clinton must be (a) angry with her because of the war, or (b) still suffering Clinton fatigue. Or both.
I think both are a factor, but I think there’s another factor the bobbleheads are missing.
For the past few bleeping years the pundits have been telling us that Sen. Hillary Clinton will be the 2008 presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. No doubt about it. She’s got all this money, all these connections, a killer political organization — nay, a machine — behind her. Whether the Democratic Party base wanted her to be the candidate was never questioned. She was who we were going to get, like it or not.
After a while, Sen. Clinton started to sound like the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. Frankly, this attitude has been pissing me off.
What’s worse, the Inevitable Candidate talk seemed symptomatic of what’s been wrong with the national Democratic Party for years — their insulation. For a lot of reasons — not all of them the fault of the politicians — the Dems haven’t had anything like a national progressive coalition behind them for about thirty years now. That means leadership positions in the party are entirely filled by people who are accustomed to running (and, occasionally, winning) election campaigns without thinking much about what a progressive base might want. Worse, many Dems have treated us progressives and liberals like disreputable relations; they don’t mind if we donate money and turn out to vote for them, but they’d rather not be seen with us in public.
So, instead of being active participants in the political process, we’re supposed to be the passive consumers of whatever product the party chooses to market. Bleep that, I say.
I’ve asked myself if I would feel the same way about an Inevitable Candidate if the I.C. were someone whose stand on the Iraq War and other issues were closer to my own opinions than Sen. Clinton’s are. Yes, I believe I would. I might support an I.C., but only if the candidate were someone capable of winning my support anyway. In other words, I’d support the I.C. in spite of his being the I.C., not because of it.
There a couple of things I suspect but can’t prove. One, I suspect much of the aura of Inevitable Candidate was wrapped about Sen. Clinton by the Right, because she’s the candidate they most want to run against in 2008. Two, I think Barack Obama is benefiting from some backlash against the I.C. I think a lot of the people who donated nickles and dimes to Barack Obama did so because he’s the only candidate other than Hillary Clinton the pundits take seriously these days.
There’s no one Dem officially running that I support 100 percent for the presidential nomination. It’s a strong field, but no one really stands out for me yet. But it’s 19 months until the election. In theory, we ought to have a lot of time yet to make up our minds. It used to be that presidential nominees were chosen by the party conventions three or four months before the elections. Now, we’re going to have a nominee chosen many months before most people are paying attention to presidential politics. And if the prime criterion for winning the nomination is collecting more donations than the other guys — how does that give us a good president, exactly?
Along these lines — there’s a good editorial called “Running for Dollars” in today’s New York Times.