Tag: 2016 Election

What if Al Gore Ran? I Know, But What If? And What if He Asked Warren to Join Him?

AL GORE - Could former Veep take the Dem nomination?

AL GORE – Could former Veep take the Dem nomination?

In a case of dueling leftist media today, Vox’s Ezra Klein is encouraging former VP and almost-should-have-been President Al Gore to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for the office in 2016 at the same time as Luke Brinker at Salon.com is arguing that’s not such a hot idea.

Frankly, I like the idea. A lot. It might be the one thing that could lure me back into the Democratic Party fold for another run at getting a Progressive agenda adopted. Klein’s arguments are pretty persuasive, though, like Brinker, I think he glosses over the central issue of income inequality as if it were a minor nuisance simply because (apparently) Gore hasn’t been outspoken on the subject. Brinker’s obviously a supporter of Elizabeth Warren, whose positions and proposals on that subject are decidedly progressive.

But what if Gore ran, picked Warren as his VP, gave her portfolio over the economics of inequality, and focused his energies on the existential global crisis? And what if he made a commitment up front to serve only one term, yielding then to a fully qualified and vetted Warren in 2020?

Now that could get my pulse pounding again. That could draw me back into the Presidential fray on the Democratic side of the ledger rather than continuing my long-term change strategy of backing the Green Party candidate, whoever that turns out to be. (Please let it be Jill Stein!)

I doubt this is even remotely possible. First, I suspect Gore sees himself as having more influence now than he’d ever have as President. Second, he probably wonders whether he could be elected even in an era when it’s common political lore in DC that the Democrats own the White House and the GOP owns the Congress for the foreseeable future. And Gore is not without his own baggage (including inexplicably inconsistent behavior on the environmental front and an unpleasant divorce from a popular woman). But I suspect he is electable and bringing Warren onto the ticket would almost certainly clinch the nomination for him. If, as some have suggested (yeah, I’m looking at you, Peggy Noonan!), Hillary Clinton really doesn’t want to run as much as it sometimes seems she does, then Gore’s entry into the fray would give her great political cover for bowing out, particularly if Warren is on the ticket.

Of course, at the end of the discussion, it’s up to HRC. If she wants the nomination, she’ll almost certainly get it. And if she gets it, she’ll almost certainly win. And if she gets it, I’ll certainly stay Green. Because there is no issue or combination if issues of more consequence than the climate and on that topic alone, Ms. Clinton is a complete bust.

 

Peggy Noonan’s Take on HRC Candidacy May Be Prescient

Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, not my favorite writer or a particularly reliable source for what Democrats are doing or thinking, suspects the fight may have gone out of Hillary Clinton before she’s officially announced her candidacy for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination.

In a particularly thoughtful piece that seems to have a bit more personal insight into Hillary than I’ve seen in most of the other speculation surrounding her email scandal, Noonan says:

Maybe she isn’t really hungry enough for the presidency anymore. And maybe she doesn’t have illusions anymore. She’s funded by Wall Street. Her opponent will be funded by Wall Street.

Maybe she’s of two minds about what she wants. But it’s not really hunger that’s propelling her now, its Newton’s law of inertia: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.

Last week when this news broke, I suggested strongly that we might be seeing the end of HRC’s run at the White House. The “scandal” has all the smell and taste and warp and woof of what the American people don’t want right now: entitlement, arrogance and above-the-law behavior.

Noonan, who is certainly both better connected to and more knowledgeable about HRC’s campaign than I will ever be, seems to have come to much the same conclusion.

At a minimum, I think Clinton’s missteps — among which I count her horrible press conference performance — may have opened the door sufficiently widely to encourage other Democrats to seek the nomination rather than simply coronating her. And ultimately that would operate in the best interest of the Democratic Party and perhaps, depending on who walks through that door, to the Progressive wing which I believe holds the keys to the White House in 2016.

 

Counting on HRC to “Restore the Party’s Luster”? You’re Joking, Right?

I read this highly improbable sentence in the New York Times this morning:

As Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares to run for president again, amid much criticism, Democrats across the board are counting on her to restore the party’s luster.

Huh? Seriously??

This statement makes several really silly assumptions, to wit:

First, that the Democratic Party has any luster to restore.

Second, that HRC, with all her historical baggage and current negative image perceptions, could restore any such luster.

Third, that assuming she wasn’t part of the ancient history of the Party, her current bona fides are tarnished at best.

And, last but not least, that the Democratic Party is aware of any lack of luster in need of restoration.

Go, Greens! 😀

Let’s Hear it for the ‘Nones’!

Good piece on HuffPo today about the possibility that both Democrats and Republicans could make some real gains in upcoming elections by pitching a values message to those people in the voting public who characterize themselves religiously as “none”. (Which leads to an interesting play on words when we refer to them collectively as “nones”.) 🙂

The nones, of which I am a dues-paying member (well, I would be if we had dues), are a substantial demographic, accounting for 20-33% of the electorate depending how you define them and whether you look at the younger end of the age range or the totality of it. Having just turned 70, I’m at the upper, upper end of that particular scale.

We are not motivated by party labels or affiliation or history (thus my 2014 switch from a lifelong Democrat to a Green) but rather by the understanding that it may be possible but is a bad idea to divorce politics from personal values. We understand budgets are moral documents, that how you choose to deal with global climate change and income inequality and the death penalty will be based not on your political label, no matter how much you protest that it will be, but on your personal values. Note, this is not a discussion about “family values”, whatever that turns out to mean to any one individual. Even “family values” are held by individuals and are thus individual in nature.

It happens that most of us nones are also progressives. That is due, at least in part, to the fact that we have chosen to investigate for ourselves the religious teachings and traditions of our parents and grandparents and sometimes found them wanting. It is also in part due to the fact that change is anathema to conservatives while it is embraced by progressives. But there are some positions that conservatives take with which we nones can and often do align. Those members of the conservative movement such as Rand Paul, e.g., who dislike the idea that America should go to war at the drop of a hat and become the world’s policeman, are people with whom we can identify, at least on that one issue.

But many nones would embrace a more conservative political label if it were more viable today. If, that is, the Republican Party hadn’t become the TEApublican Party and many (most?) of its prominent elected officials lost their moral compass in a sea of re-election fears. In fact, it would not surprise me if by tapping into the nones who are inclined to adopt some key conservative (but still rational) policies, the GOP could regain its status as a legitimate and badly needed alternative party.

Progressives who view some of the extremist views of the Democratic Party as a bit too big a reach might also help reign in some of its policies to be more accountable on the basis of meaningful personal values.

There is less difference every election between mainstream Republicans and mainstream Democrats. This is in part what has created the right-wing backlash that takes the form of the Tea Party (a “party” that doesn’t actually exist, isn’t on any ballots, has no stated candidates and takes no independent positions). And it is what has given rise to an increasingly viable splinter party group on the Left including the Greens and the Socialists.

To us nones, what really matters isn’t the detail of every policy you stand for, every vote you make. It’s the fundamental principles and values by which you live. As we begin to flex our spiritual-political muscles in coming months and years, we will become a force to be reckoned with. And that will mark the time when America begins to return to some sense of civility and respectability and governance, a situation in which a viable two (or multi-) party system is vital.

Can HRC Survive the Email Scandal?

Americans will put up with a lot from their elected public officials. But one thing that they have traditionally been particularly angry about is when those officials try to conduct business in secret. When the regime of Bush the Younger was ending, the scandal of millions of missing emails nearly brought about impeachment proceedings.

Now Democratic Presidential candidate in every sense of the word other than “official” Hillary Clinton has a huge secret email scandal, one that is far bigger than the one that plagued the Bush White House.

hillary_clintonApparently, while she served as President Obama’s Secretary of State, she used only her personal email account to transact State Department business. That put tens of thousands of emails beyond the ready reach of the public, media, and investigators. Faced with a recent Congressional demand for records related to the non-scandal-that-won’t-die Benghazi, Clinton’s aides went through those emails and turned over something like 300 emails related to those attacks. Earlier, at the request of the State Department, her team turned over about 50,000 pages of emails that had been stashed in her private account.

I’m a little bewildered, not so much at the Machiavellian machination itself as at her apparent belief that she could get away with it despite her long-time plan to seek the White House her husband occupied. I mean, did she think nobody would notice?

This smacks of above-the-law hubris that may set new breathtaking records in American political annals. And frankly it’s a scandal from which I’m not at all certain she can recover, regardless of her popularity, fund-raising, historical connection to the Presidency and the Democratic Party, and money. This revelation adds a significant burden to an already baggage-laden candidacy.

In an era of filthy dirty politics, attack-dog strategies and a 24/7 news cycle featuring tons of right-wing fanatics and Faux News, this new story will dominate the headlines for weeks to come. HRC has always been good at damage control and she may find a way yet to spin this, but I’m inclined to believe that we may have just seen the beginning of a precipitous decline in her political fortunes.

As a lifelong Democrat-turned-Green and supporter of Progressive causes, I can’t find a tear to shed.

 

Me, Too, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Warren, American progressives’ loudest, clearest and sanest voice on the national political scene, says she wants to see what Hillary Clinton wants to do before she decides whether she’s progressive or not.

Me, too, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Warren: A Nearly Lone Liberal Voice in the Wilderness

Elizabeth Warren: A Nearly Lone Liberal Voice in the Wilderness

In response to a question by MSNBC “newsman” Al Sharpton about what Warren would say to those who question HRC’s progressive bona fides, the Massachusetts Senator said, in essence, “I question that as well.” Warren, despite national movements afoot to draft her into accepting the Democratic Party nomination in 2016, has insisted that she will not be a candidate and has said frequently that she hopes Clinton makes a run.

But if there’s a single real progressive in this country who believes for a nanosecond that Hillary is going to adopt any truly liberal positions on important social issues, they must be deaf and blind. She and her husband are both center-right Corporatist Democrats, or what I call Republicrats. She is definitely to the right of President Barack Obama, who is clearly not a progressive in most senses of the word.

I’m somewhat less enamored of a Warren candidacy than many of my lefty friends. For one thing, she’s a bit raw and inexperienced for my tastes; the party got excited about Obama as president but his political naiveté and inexperience have been extremely costly to the nation and to the party. For another, I’m not sure a well-placed Senator doesn’t have more influence over the long haul than a President and I think she might be smart enough to get that.

But in any case, I don’t think she’ll run and barring a run, she doesn’t have a chance in Hades of getting the nomination as a “dark horse” drafted nominee. Hillary will have the convention locked up along time before the party gathers. So as a practical political matter, I don’t see a Warren candidacy and as a practical reality, I’m not sure she’s ready.

But we surely need some pressure from the left on the party and on Hillary if we have any chance of seeing a progressive agenda — even a small portion of it — become law. Warren could, if she chose, supply that pressure but only at the cost of party ostracism which would blunt her effectiveness as a Senator. That’s probably too high a price to pay for too little reward.

 

Could Elizabeth Warren Be the Beneficiary of the New Realpolitik?

warren-for-president-signAfter I wrote yesterday about what I see as the near-term political landscape, conservative new York Times columnist David Brooks penned an op-ed in which he tossed in one of the wild cards I alluded to in my prognostication. In a piece entitled, “Warren Can Win,” he posited that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a populist of the first rank who is also a firebrand and a fighter for what she believes in, could win the Democratic Party’s nomination for President next year.

He concluded his essay with this paragraph:

The history of populist candidates is that they never actually get the nomination. The establishment wins. That’s still likely. But there is something in the air. The fundamental truth is that every structural and historical advantage favors Clinton, but every day more Democrats embrace the emotion and view defined by Warren.

The “emotion” defined by Warren is, as Brooks says, an “emotional register of the Democratic Party [that] is growing more combative. There’s an underlying and sometimes vituperative sense of frustration toward President Obama, and especially his supposed inability to go to the mat.” I can attest to that sense of frustration, though I’d up the fire a bit and call it disappointment bordering on outright anger. And the view Warren defines? Pure populism with a healthy dose of anti-big-finance born from her childhood roots and honed on the battlefields of regulatory necessity.

If Warren can wrest the nomination from the presumptive candidate, Hillary Clinton (who has little fight and no legitimate claim to populism), then she alters the political equation fundamentally. By not being a “Republican Lite” Democratic candidate, Warren might ignite large numbers of previously inactive folks along with those who are fed up with Obama’s lack of progressivism and pull off a win in the General. In that event, the overall situation could look much different than I predicted yesterday. By forcing the Democrats back to their roots and creating a strong opposition to the Republicans’ obstructionism, she could shift the debate and the power struggle back toward the people in ways no other candidate I can see on the scene right now could.

 

Run, Bernie, Run

Looking back over my nearly 70 years on the planet and my more than 50 years of active political engagement, I can see that one word that could neatly sum up my experiences might be “Quixotic.” I run around tilting and windmills and I have a few stashed in case I run out of obvious ones.

My wife agrees. And she’s known me longer than anyone else.

That label is true in most areas of my life, but nowhere is it more accurate than when it comes to politics. Just by way of example, I was a life-long Democrat until this year when I switched to being a Green, which is the most progressive party I can find. I’m still a progressive and I always have been.

Except in 1964. That year, I was living in Chicago where the Dick Daley Democratic Machine owned everything. I was in my element at last. So naturally I joined the Goldwater campaign. I said at the time that I did so because I admired that he was a man of principle even though I didn’t agree with a single principle he espoused.

This is all by way of explaining why, if as anticipated Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described Socialist independent from Vermont, tosses his hat into the Democratic Party run for the White House, I will be a solid supporter. Unless, that is, Elizabeth Warren changes her mind and decides to take a shot. In that case, I’m going to have a dilemma on my hands. But just because of his sheer courage in adopting the Socialist mantle, I might tip to Sanders until and unless he is forced by the Establishment to drop out.

The differences for me between the Green and Socialist parties are quite small but there were a couple of planks in the Socialist platform I felt uneasy about. Plus my belief that global climate change is the defining issue of our time internationally matches up more closely with the Greens in their passion. But it would be a close call if Sanders and Warren both offer themselves as candidates.

This article points out why a Sanders candidacy could ultimately be good for the Democratic Party but I don’t honestly care about that or its impact on the “presumptive” nominee, Hillary Clinton, for whom I have no love at all. For me, a leftist candidate might actually have a chance of winning this year if s/he can get the nomination because the GOP has nobody of any stature ready to run. (Seriously; the latest talk is about giving Romney another shot!)

I hope Sanders decides to run.

Jim Webb is a Non-Starter for Me

The first Democrat to officially enter the 2016 sweepstakes is former West Virginia Senator Jim Webb. He’s a right-of-center Reagan Democrat who served as the Gipper’s Secretary of the Navy, an angry ex-Marine who is absolutely bellicose on foreign relations and a complete non-starter for me.

While he voted with the party when he was in the Senate, his comments since then — and some of the material in his warlike novels — have turned me off completely.

The Democrats can’t affect the national policy agenda by trying to out-conservative the Republicans. The Democratic agenda needs to push farther left on the issues on which most Americans agree with that agenda, not dragged to the right. The GOP has been moving the national conversation to the right for decades. Time to push back.