If the Democratic Party had a tag line for this year, it would be ‘Elections without Competition’.
Or maybe “Let’s Make a Deal”.
The Democrats seem to be perfecting this at both the national and local level, and I’m pretty sure that this is not what the founding fathers had in mind.
I thought the purpose of elections was for people to have the opportunity to choose between competitive and viable candidates. And yet, there is Hilary Clinton running for the Democratic nomination for President, with her chief rival being a self-described “democratic socialist”.
I love Bernie Sanders and I’ve been ‘feeling the Bern’ as much as the next person. Perhaps his powerful words could have the impact of taking Clinton more to the left. However, if this lovable and unelectable guy is the only competition, the burn is really on us.
This election year so far would make even Putin look like he’s scrambling for votes every four years.
In my lifetime, there has never been a Presidential election in which a party ran only one electable candidate, unless that candidate was an incumbent. The most accomplished and ambitious Democrats with a chance of being elected decided to sit this one out. Why does Hillary have no viable Democratic opponents? It seems to me that a deal was cut to set the table for Hillary and it’s as clear as day.
I’d trace this deal back to 2012, leading into the Democratic convention. Obama was trailing Romney in the poles and President Bill Clinton gave a speech at the convention that brought the house down and immediately shifted the campaign. The Washington Post wrote that Clinton “delivered for Obama”.
But it didn’t stop there. After this speech, Bill Clinton campaigned with Obama and generously filled in for Obama at events. Politico wrote that Bill Clinton “zig zagged” across the country for Obama.
Here is an article entitled “How Bill Clinton Won the 2012 Election”. Even Mitt Romney said, “If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this election season, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good”. So where was Bill Clinton in 2008 for Obama? Why was he suddenly so enthusiastic about Obama in 2012? Do you think Bill offered this support in exchange for the lack of competition we currently see for Hillary? And if so, would deals like this be an acceptable way for us to practice democracy?
An election is not a lifetime achievement award, and both Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party would be better served if the most competitive field of Democrats joined the race.
One would think that after eight years of loyal service as Vice President, Joe Biden would have earned a full and enthusiastic endorsement from the President he served for so many years. I would think a Presidential committee would have been started for Biden not soon after Obama became a lame duck President in 2013. But none of this ever happened for the Vice President.
Elections with a foregone conclusion are not happening just at the national level. At the local level in San Francisco, incumbent Mayor Ed Lee did not face any legitimate competition in the general election.
That is, unless you count one of Lee’s biggest rivals, a candidate who goes by the esteemed name of ‘Broke Ass Stuart’.
It’s not just the election process that appears to be broken.
Broke Ass Stuart actually finished in fourth place–only five percentage points behind the second place finisher! This second place finisher, singer and community activist Francisco Herrera, ended up a whopping 44 percentage points behind Ed Lee.
San Francisco is not your average American city. The opposing sides in the mayoral election are not usually Democrat vs. Republican but rather Democrat vs. Progressive. This year, the parties decided to party with each other and let the Mayor run unopposed. As the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out, the most competitive candidates chose not to run, names like Sen. Mark Leno. City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. The candidates backed away as if Ed Lee were the best Mayor in the history of America.
Even the most trusting and transparent thinking people would have to consider the possibility that somewhere in the ‘Mayor Lee running unopposed” narrative lies a backroom deal.
So what is an election without real competition? I guess we are finding out this year.