Today the many people who believed the 2016 Democratic Primary was rigged in favor of Secretary Clinton had their beliefs confirmed in a stunning show of political courage by Donna Brazile. Politico published an excerpt from her new book, in which she details her forensic efforts to find the truth about the relationship between the DNC and Hillary for America. Was this Donna’s Profiles in Courage moment? I believe so and am thankful to have these facts now out in the public for us all to consume. I hope that by shedding light on DNC corruption, Donna has put the party on a path toward reconciliation. Many deep wounds were inflicted in the fight between the Clinton and Sanders wings of the party. But, now is the time to reflect, admit mistakes and focus on the future.
Democratic centrism is a dying belief system that should have been left in the 90s. While President Clinton was successful in winning election and reelection via centrism, he did not govern in a way that Democrats should be proud. Many legislative mistakes were made during the Clinton administration in the name of centrism including the failure on health care, mass incarceration and ending Glass-Steagall. While many point to a robust economy under Clinton, I would argue that presidents have very little to do with economic growth. In fact, the dot com boom was likely a more influential factor than anything Clinton did. We need to be honest and realistic about the Clinton years. They were not good and set our party on the road to President Donald Trump.
Let us examine the wisdom in nominating a status quo candidate in a change election. Clinton’s nomination in 2016 exposed the lack of smart political strategy within the Democratic Party. How could so many people believe that after eight years of Obama, the country would now elect to the presidency someone to continue his legacy? After eight years of any president the country would most likely elect next someone who provided a pivot from his or her leadership. And, the Obama years were some of the most politically divisive years we have witnessed, leaving many unfulfilled. Many Democrats failed to read the tea leaves. Running as Obama’s successor plays well with most hard core Democrats, but not with the rest of the country.
Clinton enthusiasts loudly proclaimed “I’m with her!” They would have been more honest to add “because it is her turn.” This was a dominating belief among Clinton fans that they would never say out loud. Clinton fans wanted no exposure to the truth. They just wanted Hillary to get her turn. They figured she put in the years at the right levels of government and it is about time we had a female president, so why not? Clinton herself as well as her entire campaign never had an answer to “why is she running?” Fortunately for them they never had the embarrassing Ted Kennedy moment with that question, but a good portion of the public knew she had no good answer. This was not a person running for president with deeply held convictions about how she would shape the country. She was just trying to stop Trump, which is not convincing enough to get elected president.
A mix of libertarian and socialist beliefs are the future of Democratic ideas. You can see it in efforts to reduce mass incarceration, end the drug war, legalize marijuana, install a basic income, provide Medicare for all, audit or end the Fed and find a way to fund cheaper access to higher education. Forward thinking party leaders have already embraced some or all of these ideas. It seems there is still a contingent of the Democratic Party that can not tell via these policies’ popularity that centrism is no longer a winning strategy. Republicans and independents love many of these policies, not to mention Democratic voters. In fact, I would argue that if you are a modern Democrat who has not embraced some or all of these ideas you will lose elections going forward. This is what people want and in fair and free elections they will elect to serve people who share these beliefs.
Donna Brazile did Democrats a favor today. Now we know the truth and can stop arguing over perceived slights and unfair elections. Now we can focus on the truth and the future. Hopefully we will move forward in a positive direction. In many of the special elections since Trump was elected, such as the Ossoff race, I noticed Democrats running who had still not embraced Single Payer. That is a signal to the public that you are unelectable. Corporate Democrats are a dying breed and centrism is a dying idea. Its time we faced facts and find a way to grow.