Howard Dean gets it mostly right
Howard Dean appeared on Meet The Press this morning with a rather good analysis on the midterm election.
“Jim Clyburn was the most right person in that lead up,” Howard Dean said. “It was message. Sure it was an off year. We can make all these excuses. But the fact is we have never, — and even through the days of the fifty state strategy, taking over the House and the Senate and the Presidency in four years when I was running the DNC — I could never get the Washington Democrats to stay on message. The Republican message was we are not Obama, no substance whatsoever. We are not Obama. What was the Democrats’ message? Oh well we are not either. You cannot win if you are afraid. It felt like it. Where the hell is the Democratic Party. You have to stand for something if you want to win.”
Chuck Todd mentioned Dan Balz’s Washington Post piece about the hollowing of the Democratic Party. He concentrated mostly on the weakening of the states’ Democratic Parties. Howard Dean pretty much gets it right about national guidance and money with local control. This would ensure necessary regional issues are addressed.
The most important passage in the Dan Balz piece however is what a Hillary Clinton coronation will do to the Democratic Party with respect to fresh blood and grooming progressives.
Presidential campaigns and open nomination contests help bring new leaders to national prominence. That appears unlikely in 2016. For all her positive attributes, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton is a suffocating presence when it comes to intraparty presidential competition. Her command of the Democratic machinery, from fundraising to grass-roots organizing, is so extensive that almost everyone else is understandably intimidated about even testing their talents against her.
Think of it this way: If Clinton were to win the presidency and serve two terms, the next opportunity for a new generation of Democrats to compete nationally would not come until 2024. The Democrats could go 16 years between competitive presidential nomination contests, wiping out opportunities for today’s younger generation to define or redefine the party apart from either the Obama or Clinton eras.
Forget the substance of candidates for a bit. It is evident that it is only one factor voters consider if they consider it at all. Jon Stewart did a skit that one should note. He showed what the winners in many of the Republican races looked like. It looked like the embodiment of what Democrats promote in words.
Howard Dean post mortem is mostly right. His acceptance of an implicit coronation of Hillary Clinton is however problematic and could be perilous for the Democratic Party in the long term. It is important for the primary process to work.