Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Can the Democrat Party recover and rehabilitate in time for 2020?

Having blown the 2016 "sure thing" coronation of Hillary Clinton; having magnificently failed to realize how badly they had alienated the people who live between the two coastal liberal strong-holds, not noticing their growing displeasure and desire for change, we are left to wonder if the Democrats can return to Earth in time to rebuild their party and find good candidates to head the party ticket in 2020.

In their effort to figure out what happened the Democrats have blamed James Comey and the FBI, Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders, Wikileaks, racism, sexism, fake news, Russia, and voters: everyone and everything is to blame except the DNC itself and its candidate.

After the election there were demonstrations by Clinton supporters that turned into riots, crying sessions and a search for safe spaces, suggestions that Russian hacking impacted the election, which led to efforts to undermine the Electoral College by persuading Republican electors to not vote for Trump, as their voters has instructed them. There were instances of intimidation and death threats against some electors.

But no evidence has been advanced suggesting that the Russians actually changed votes or affected the results of the election. One analysis says all the Russians did was hack Democrat emails that were then released by Wikileaks, which exposed the lies, deceit, corruption, and collusion of the Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the media to the public. Since their dirty little secrets were exposed to the world, naturally the Democrats had to try to get the electors to overturn the results of the election, right?

Of course, Democrats disagree with this analysis, but the fact remains that they are so badly flummoxed and disoriented that we have every reason to wonder if they can recover rationality in time for their party to function well enough to field competent candidates for the next presidential election.

Assuming the DNC is able to establish lucidity, who are the potential candidates? Odds are that if Hillary Clinton is still alive and well, she will put herself out there again, despite her weak performance in 2008 and her substantial defeat this year.

But there are alternatives, too.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto cites a poll by Public Policy Polling showing that “Joe Biden leads the way for Democrats with 31 percent to 24 percent for Bernie Sanders, and 16 percent for Elizabeth Warren.” As if to underscore the depths of confusion among Democrats, however, Taranto goes on to say that they also expressed preference for younger candidates: “57 percent of Democrats say they want their candidate to be under the age of 60, and 77 percent say they want their candidate to be under the age of 70. Only 8 percent actually want a candidate who’s in their [sic] 70s.”

He points out that by the time of the 2020 election the favored potential candidates will be north of 70: Biden will be 77, Sanders will be 79, and Warren, the baby of the group, will be 71. Based upon the ages of the favored Democrats, Taranto termed the DNC the “Great-Grand Old Party.”

James Hohmann, national political correspondent for The Washington Post, suggests that since VP candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, has declined to seek the presidency in 2020 that the door is open for other recognizable faces to enter the fray, such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, who took over Clinton’s Senate seat when she became secretary of state.

In addition to the aforementioned possibilities, Post opinion writer Chris Cillizza names some other lesser-known potential candidates in a commentary published by the Chicago Tribune.

California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November, is the first African-American woman elected to the Senate since Carol Moseley-Braun in 1992, Cillizza notes. He points out that she also represents the largest and most-Democrat state in the country, and that her “law-and-order-background” as AG will help her.

With first a business background, then serving as a mayor, and now Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper would have broad appeal, Cillizza believes. One negative is Hickenlooper’s moderate political position, which may not appeal to the current very-liberal Democrats.

Having demonstrated an ability to work across the aisle to achieve things for veterans and child adoption, Callizza believes Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has a positive profile for national office. Despite that her state is not exactly a fundraising hotbed for national politics, her ambitious demeanor may be attractive to Democrats.

Cillizza also notes that while current First Lady Michelle Obama has never run for office or expressed interest in doing so, she has excellent name recognition and “star power,” and would go into a race for the nomination as a beloved figure. He noted his approval of two of her political speeches, which he termed the two best in the last two years.

So, after Biden, Sanders, Warren, Booker, and Obama, the other possibilities have the name recognition hurdle to clear, so watching who says and does what during Trump’s first four years will help clarify the DNC’s dilemma.

Of course, if none of the above finds favor with the Democrats, Kanye West has already thrown his hat into the ring, and Martin Sheen of the recent effort to persuade electors to not vote for Trump is available. He’s never been a president, but he did play one on TV.

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