“The Democratic Party is like a mule. If you hit ‘em over the head with a two-by-four often enough, it finally gets the message.”
— William Galston, Democratic strategist 2008
The Democrat turnaround began in 1991 when political consultant James Carville took a then unknown Southern Governor (who finished a distant third in the Iowa caucuses) and ran him as a centrist, a moderate, you know… someone in the middle, and Bill Clinton went on to become a two-term United States President.
Carville realized that the Democrats were still thought of as long-haired, hippie-type, pot smoking, protesting radicals and weren’t taken seriously by the country. All one has to do is read up on the 1968 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago where some protested their own Democrat candidates, while at the same time other protesters were getting manhandled in the streets by the Chicago police and the Illinois National Guard. Instead of the Democrats coming together behind their Presidential candidate, it was an embarrassing state of chaos that came to define the Democratic Party for a generation.
Carville and Clinton took the Democratic Party from the wilderness to the middle. From 1992 up through 2016 the Democrats have won the 5 out of the last 6 Presidential popular votes.
Politics are like sports. We remember the winners and forget the losers. Bonus points if you can name the Democratic candidate who finished first in the 1991 Iowa caucuses.
Democrats are like a young woman. They want to be dated, courted, romanced and then make up their own minds. They don’t want to be told what to do. Arranged marriages would not work well with Democrats.
Witness the 2008 Democrat primary race. After Barack Obama won the nomination from Hillary Clinton there was a collective pause as Obama’s team waited for Hillary’s endorsement. The biggest fear was that Hillary’s supporters would sit out the November General Election. Thankfully at the Democratic National Convention, both Hillary and Bill Clinton came forward with inspiring endorsements of Barack Obama and asked her supporters to get behind Obama to defeat Republican John McCain in the General Election.
Think back to our own recent 2012 Congressional race. Our local Humboldt Democrats were split between Jared Huffman, Norman Solomon, Stacey Lawson and Susan Adams. Once Huffman won the June primary and was going against Republican Dan Roberts, the previously defeated Democrat primary candidates endorsed Huffman and he became our Congressman with 71% of the vote.
“Check your egos at the door” is a phrase I often say in our local political scene. It’s not about you. It’s about a strategy to help “Candidate X” win their election and defeat “Candidate Y”. Recently we’ve had candidates who’ve lost in the primaries where everyone was expecting them to come out and endorse one of the two remaining candidates in the General Election. Our Humboldt County political make-up could’ve (would’ve, should’ve) been different, however some losing primary candidates went into silent mode.
I’m going to predict that the Democrats will be the first party to nominate a woman as their Presidential candidate in 2016. If it’s not Hillary Clinton, it just might be another first-term Senator who runs for President - Elizabeth Warren (D), Massachusetts.
Democrats make better lovers.
Ever had a good piece of elephant ?
Bonus answer: Iowa Senator Tom Harkin.