Monday, March 17, 2008

The Implosion of the Donkey

The year was 1992. Republicans had been in control of the white house for 12 straight years and for 20 of the last 24 years. President Bush had slipped dramatically in approval ratings and Ross Perot had entered into the Presidential race as an independent. The "read my lips" uttering by Bush would eventually lead to the downfall of the president and the republican party. America indeed elected William Jefferson Clinton as President of the United States.

The entire first term of President Clinton was mired in scandals; eventually leading to his impeachment. In spite of this Bill won reelection over a fractured republican party and Bob Dole. Bill became the first President in history to have won two terms as president without ever achieving an absolute majority, instead being elected twice by a plurality.

These were the best of times for the donkey party. They enjoyed the white house for eight straight years. The republican party was fractured and many believed it was dead on the presidential level. However, the republicans came together and mapped out an electoral college victory path for George Bush. President Bush then became the first president to be elected in 12 years with an absolute majority of the voters. The democrats should have taken heed of the actions of the republican party.

The republicans had fallen on hard times in the 1990's. They were splintered on the national level. The religious right and isolationists backed Pat Buchanan. The fiscal conservatives and moderates backed the party establishment. It was not until 2000 that the conservatives and moderates of the republican party mended fences.

On the other hand the Democrats fell on hard times in 2000. Their venomous hatred of George Bush had them foaming at the mouth. The Democrats did everything in their power to destroy George Bush and the republicans. The Democrats lost election after election. Finally, in 2006, the democrats made a breakthrough. America handed the democrats the keys to the legislative branch in a landslide election. All the democrats had to do was govern effectively and act as a unified party and they would have been prohibitive favorites in the 2008 elections to solidify majority status and win the white house.

Alas the democrats made some serious mistakes. First, they demanded an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Reid said "the war is lost". Many in the democratic party leadership circles saw that losing in Iraq could only benefit themselves. By losing Iraq the Democrats could pin the loss on the republicans and they would be hero's in the eyes of the vocal extremists in their party. The democrats painted themselves into a lose at all costs corner and are not able to reposition themselves with any credibility.

The second problem with the democratic leadership is that they could not govern. They were only able to pass one piece of legislation they ran on in 2006 and that was a relatively minor victory for minimum wage earners. They were in office for over a year before they had to eventually pass an omnibus budget plan. This 2008 budget was finally passed after 1/4 of the budget year had already passed by. Their center piece ethics reform was watered down in order to pass. Transparency in government has never been less. All the barking about earmarks and they still had a banner year stuffing the budget with pork. The 110th Congress truly was a do nothing congress.

The third problem with the democrats is they fell in love with themselves. The loved their candidates for the presidential nomination. They loved their candidates for the house and senate races. They loved the money they were receiving in donations far outdistancing the republicans. They were so enamored with themselves that they believed they could not lose. But finally they are a party that has lost its compass.

The final stake may just be nomination process. The last two remaining candidates have divided the democratic party along racial, gender, age, and ethnic lines. Barack Obama brings in new young voters to the process. Barack garners over 91% of the African American vote. Barack surrounds himself with an America hating wife, a racist pastor, and a fund raiser on trial for fraud. Hillary Clinton wins older voters and the women vote. She wins the Hispanic voters and all of the large democratic states.

So what happens when one of these two candidates finally wins the nomination? If Barack wins will the more moderate older, Hispanic, or women voters return to Obama. Will they move towards McCain or will they stay home? Will Barack be able to hold the democratic party together in spite of the racial undertones of his main voting block? Will the moderate independents stay with a candidate surrounded by people that are not proud of their country, people that spread anti American viewpoints, people that curse America, people that call America the US of KKK A? Will Americans fall for the shallow and simplistic view of America that Obama has simply because of eloquent speeches?

What happens if Hillary wins? Will the young people stay the course and vote for an alternate candidate, even though that would be against the normal practices of the past? Will the African American voter come home to vote for Hillary even though she abandoned them and interjected race and gender into the nomination process? Will her criminal connections come to haunt her? Will she be able to unite the party or will she continue to be the divisive candidate we all know her to be?

After watching the republicans begin to splinter in the 1990's only to regroup into a stronger party I would never have believed one of the two major political parties would implode. However, after watching the democrats for the last year, I am not so sure. There is every possibility of the democrats splintering beyond repair. Hillary and Barack have effectively split the party down the middle. The democrats are split along racial and gender lines. They are also split in age and income lines. The longer this nomination process takes the more difficult it becomes to unite a splintered party. There are already polls saying that 25% of Hillary's voters will either stay home or vote for McCain. I am not so sure he democrats can win the white house by losing 25% of Hillary's voters. This 25% will only increase the longer this process takes. We also do not know what toll on the electorate there would be if Hillary should win. There is no easy way to unify a party that has drawn lines along the great racial and gender based divides.

The 2008 election year was shaping up to be a historic year. There were strong possibilities of having either the first minority or first woman president. The longer the nomination process continues the longer the odds of either being able to attain the presidency. If the process takes long enough for John McCain to win in a democratic year, 2008 may still be a historic year. It could be the year that the democratic donkey disappears.

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