I haven’t written a political article in a while. There are several reasons for this. First, I am currently in a political depression which I expect will last until the current administration is removed or defanged. Second, my last political writing was a short book titled Massachusetts Political History: From Puritans to Presidents. It was largely focused on why so many recent Presidential candidates heralded from Massachusetts. It was written under the assumption that it would be published during the Presidency of Mitt Romney. That short book, sad to say, was stillborn.
The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises once said that he set out to be a reformer, but became a historian of the decline. I feel the same about politics. My main attention is given to ministry and teaching in a Christian school. My interest in politics is more past minded than present oriented.
But I must speak about current, or rather, upcoming political events. This message is particularly directed toward Hillary Clinton. I am certain that she reads my blog and has followed my past political writings with great care. The topic at hand is the speculation about, and near coronation of, Mrs. Clinton as the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee.
First, praise. I am not, never have been, and never will be a fan or supporter or even admirer of Hillary Clinton. That being said, I recognize that if she had been nominated and elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, she would be doing a better job running the country than her primary opponent in 2008. Also, she is obviously a person of extreme talents and drive. She is one politically astute operator, and she obviously possesses great strength and determination in whatever task she undertakes. I would hate to be in a confrontation with her.
All that being said, here is the message: I am sorry, Hillary, but you are not going to be nominated for President in 2016. I am not saying you could not win the general election or that you could not govern effectively. I am not saying that your views, which almost totally contradict my own views, would not prevail among the majority of American voters.
What I am saying is that you will not be the Democratic candidate.
The reason: It is obvious. You are in the Democratic and not the Republican Party. Republicans nominate older, aged, and “deserving” candidates. Republicans favor a candidate who has run before, who almost got the nomination, who supported the winner, and paid his dues. Republicans look past electability, past verbal and political missteps from the past, and past potential hurdles, and they grant the nomination as a reward for longevity. Republicans rally around the establishment, stick with the tried and true, and honor the party war horses.
Democrats shoot their old war horses. It is not meant to be mean, but quick. Democrats nominate the fresh face, the new ideal, the wave of the future. Democrats rally around the surging new comer. Democrats want a fresh agenda, a new deal, and the cutting edge in political trends.
None of this is law. None of it is absolute. But let’s look at some history. By the way, if you (Hillary) will recall what Dick Morris said that your husband said prior to his run against Bob Dole, you will see that the former President and I are on the same page.
The modern Democratic Party was defined by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Then New York Governor Roosevelt won the Democratic nomination in 1932 over a host of more qualified, better experienced older party regulars. Roosevelt was simply amazing as a politician. We had a country paralyzed by the Great Depression. Then we had a man who had overcome paralysis who personified hope and energy. Roosevelt’s economic plans were lacking. His understanding of economics was even more lacking. But he was a new fresh face. He captured and captivated the hopes of the common man (and he himself was far from common) through the radio.
The Roosevelt phenomena lasted for 5 elections. FDR won four of them, then his successor, Harry Truman, surprisingly pulled out a fifth win. Truman won because the Roosevelt Coalition of union workers, farmers, Southerners, and liberals held together.
In 1952, the Democrats drafted Adlai Stevenson to run. The older insider candidates offered little energy, so the fresh face from the Illinois statehouse was chosen. !952 and 1956 were pretty much lost causes with war hero and five star general Dwight D. Eisenhower heading up the Republican ticket.
In 1960, the Democrats picked their fresh new candidate, John F. Kennedy. Many Democrats thought that the more experienced Washington leader Lyndon Johnson would be the candidate. Others wanted to give Stevenson a third chance. A few opted for the liberal battler Hubert Humphrey. Kennedy was a political lightweight with a thin record and lots of concealed baggage. But he won the nomination and energized Democrats for over a generation.
The 1964 Democratic nomination was uncontested after Johnson inherited the Presidency from the slain Kennedy. Johnson had feared President Kennedy’s brother Robert contesting the race however. That fear materialized in 1968. Johnson was in trouble politically. Vietnam and civil unrest at home had destroyed Johnson’s political clout. He wisely opted out of the race after a newcomer named Eugene McCarthy won 42 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. Robert Kennedy, now a Senator from New York, entered the race and would have been a major force at the convention in Chicago had he not been assassinated.
As 1972 approached, the Democrats had a frontrunner. It was Maine Senator Edmund Muskie. Muskie had been the Vice Presidential candidate in 1968. He looked Presidential and carefully worked to maintain his front-runner status. In other words, he was earning the nomination. He was very quickly bested in the early primaries by the upstart candidate—Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. The 1972 Democratic fight was a free-for-all, but McGovern, whose aides had worked to change the party rules for delegates, won the nomination. The general election, however, was a devastating route for McGovern.
In 1976, the frontrunner was Senator Henry Jackson. Jackson was a Cold Warrior and an advocate of a strong military. He was also a battler for social issues and the New Deal. He stood in the shoes of Truman and Kennedy and Johnson. He lacked flash and charisma, but was strong on competence and credibility. But an upstart beat him. One term Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter smiled his way through the primaries and won the nomination and the Presidency.
1980 was in internal Democratic fight among Carter and the next Kennedy, Senator Edward Kennedy. Senator Kennedy’s outsider status and Kennedy name almost netted him the nomination, but Carter’s incumbency saved him. Carter lost the Presidency to Ronald Reagan in the fall.
The Democratic battle for the nomination in 1984 should give Mrs. Clinton a glimmer of hope. The Democrats did nominate as standard bearer the man who had been on the ticket during the previous two elections—former Vice President Walter Mondale. The newcomer, Senator Gary Hart, made a valiant try for the nomination, but Mondale won.
In 1988, the Democrats nominated a new face. It was Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. For a time during that election cycle, he had a really good chance of winning the election.
Many Democrats held back from running for the Presidency in 1992. President George H. W. Bush looked unbeatable. He was defeated in the general election by a newcomer named Clinton from Arkansas. Clinton ran as a new kind of Democrat, and it worked.
The year 2004 was a year for outsiders and new faces in the Democrat Party. The deeply intellectual political philosopher John Edwards…oops, I confused him with that other Edwards…Jonathan. I will start again: Pretty Boy and philanderer, shyster lawyer and pseudo-man-of-the-people John Edwards was a new face. John F. Kerry was a new face (although it was pasted onto an old face). General Wesley Clark was a new face. Topping them all was Howard “Yaaaahhhh” Dean of Vermont. Dean burst onto the scene and became a media wonder and front runner. That was before the scream, and the scream was before his campaign melted down. JFK, Kerry in this case, was the new face nominee.
The glass ceiling was broken, we were told in 2008. Hillary Clinton became the heir apparent to the Democratic nomination. She had, after all, earned it. She not only served as First Lady for eight years: She fended off attacks on her character. She dodged scandals. She remembered dodging bullets on a trip to Europe. She exposed the vast rightwing conspiracy that stalked the Clintons. And she stood by her man, Bill. She had no idea that he had cheated on her. On learning of his infidelity, she stood by him and became a martyr for truth, justice, fidelity, goodness, strength, motherhood, forgiveness, and stoicism. She should have received a Nobel Prize.
Instead, she carpetbagged a Senate seat in New York
The Democratic nomination in 2008 was hers for the asking. A few token non-descripts, old political hacks, and windbags entered the primaries to open the doors to Hillary on her way to victory. But then the vastly experienced community service organizer, legal professor, and father-seeking Senator Barak Obama entered the race. That was a nice gesture on Sen. Obama’s part. In the future, the Clintonites reasoned, he might be a Presidential hopeful. But for now, she would graciously defeat the Illinois Senator and others on her road to the White House where she would answer 3 a.m. phone calls.
But Democrats like new faces. There was nothing newer or imaginably newer in 2008 than the articulate African-American Senator from Illinois. In short, Hillary lost. Crying didn’t help…much. Fits didn’t help…much. The former President’s campaigning assists didn’t help…any. Hillary lost.
With 2016 approaching, add eight years to Hillary’s age. She will be in her late 60s. Like former Republican candidate John McCain, she holds her age well. McCain was 72 when he ran and he didn’t look a day over 80. Add the many miles Ms. Clinton trekked over the world bringing peace and resolution to world conflicts. Add the looming guilt over Benghazi. Add health problems for herself and the former President. Add the abiding, though slightly faded presence, of the years of Clinton scandals and sleaze. Add the grueling nature of a Presidential run. Add the fact that Democrats aren’t nice. Other Dems want the nomination.
But above all, note this: Democrats don’t recycle. They will, though sometimes reluctantly, grant the nomination to a Vice President. Humphrey, Mondale, and Gore all got nominated that way. (Don’t get your hopes up, Joe Biden. The Veeps all lost, and the Vice President will be even older than Ms. Clinton, and he also is a retread from past Presidential runs. And he loses debates.)
Here are the years in recent history where the Republicans picked a candidate who had been a Presidential contender or Vice Presidential candidate in previous years: 1960, 1968, 1980, 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012 (seven races). In 1972, 1976, 1984, 1988, and 2004, they were running incumbent Presidents (four races). Only in 1964 and 2000, did they run a new face. (You can argue that George W. Bush was not a new face in 2000 but a continuation of his father’s political legacy. If he had been named George W. Smith, his road to the White House would have been much harder.)
Democrats ran a new face in 1960, 1972, 1976, 1988, 1992, 2004, and 2008 (seven races). In 1964, 1980, 1996, and 2012, they were running incumbents four races). In the other 3 elections (1968, 1984, and 2000), they were running men who had served as Vice Presidents. They have not granted a former Presidential candidate the nomination since 1956.
It is simple: Democrats don’t recycle. They go for new. Ms. Clinton will not break that glass ceiling. Hillary, enjoy your grandchild and retirement.