With apologies to Mark Twain, Democrats are like the weather. Everyone complains about how awful they are but no one does anything about them.
There was a time in my life when I was a registered Democrat. That time ended when I was in Kansas and wanted to vote for a friend in a State House of Representatives primary.
My problem is that I don’t feel comfortable with both feet on either party’s platform. I am pretty conservative on most issues so I register as a Republican, but I can’t handle it when the far right flank of the party stops believing in vaccines and other science. Their willingness to see every gray area as only black or white is also troubling. The hypocrisy on moral and fiscal issues is also hard to handle.
The new Trumpublican Party that refuses to hold its leader responsible for anything from ethical to moral to criminal misdeeds is also a part of the Republican Party with which I don’t associate.
But not being a fan of Donald Trump doesn’t make a person a Democrat.
You know Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee in 2016 because it was basically “her turn.” She lost to Barack Obama and was a good soldier after the defeat. She served on his cabinet to keep her Democratic street cred and gain foreign policy experience.
That didn’t go so well, but it was enough to make sure no serious Democratic contenders jumped in the race to challenge her.
Clinton is smart. You don’t become the first female partner in the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, if you aren’t. But as a candidate, she is not great. She carried the stains of her husband’s eight years in office along with some of his popularity. Many feminists appreciated having a female candidate, but not necessarily a “stand by your man” woman whose political career was the caboose of the Bill Clinton Train. The American Dream isn’t that “any little girl who marries a man who becomes president for eight years and stays married to him no matter what he does to you can become president one day.”
Clinton broke some glass ceilings by becoming the first female candidate in a major party, but she wasn’t a great candidate.
Actually, saying Clinton wasn’t a great candidate is an understatement. She wasn’t a great speaker or debater. Even when she was right on message, her delivery and style were problematic.
Most people point to the fact that she lost to a reality television star who was riddled with personal scandals in the general election to demonstrate her weakness as a candidate. But the biggest example of Clinton’s weakness as a candidate is the fact that she normalized and empowered Bernie Sanders as a Democrat.
Now Sanders is back and Clinton is saying she won’t be. That isn’t good for the Democrats. Running as Clinton’s only foil, Sanders built a nationwide campaign structure that none of the approximately 507 other candidates have. Sanders signed a Democratic National Committee pledge to run as a Democrat and not an Independent or Socialist or whatever he is this week.
Sanders is not a Democrat. The popular Republican attack on Democrats now is that they are Socialists, but Sanders is only a quasi-Socialist. He likes single-payer, government-run healthcare, but he also loves capitalism. He writes books that bring him millions. He holds an office that pays him $175,000 a year. Sanders isn’t for government owning the means of production for any industry other than medicine.
Sanders isn’t a Socialist. He certainly isn’t a Democrat. But the Democrats know that if he runs as a 78-year-old opportunist Independent that he really is, he will steal millions of votes from their candidate so they welcome him into their primary.
That’s going to be a real issue for a party trying to unseat an incumbent president who has a lot of problems, but a strong base isn’t one of them. Trump will get more than 40 percent of the vote even if he is facing criminal charges on election day. Sanders tearing the party apart from the outside would be tragic. But he will be the favorite to win the nomination and the best recipe for getting Trump re-elected has to be putting Sanders on top of the ballot in red and even purple states.
Trump could be a historically unpopular president who is facing unprecedented legal and policy challenges when he runs. But if history is a guide and recent moves are any indication, the Democrats will find a way to make sure he serves fast food to college athletes for four more years.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.