Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Case for Late Deciders

On Slate, David Greenberg argues that this primary is not a historical anomaly, that democratic candidates are typically chosen late in the game. He also claims that the failures of deomcratic candidates in 1972, 1980, and 1984 had nothing to do with the long selection process. He says they would've failed anyway because they (McGovern, Carter, Mondale) were weak candidates. Tsongas, too, in 1988, though Greenberg concedes that the good governor was indeed hurt some by the primary campaign.

My only point is this: No one really can know what would have happened had those nomination processes been shorter. But we know here and now that a drawn out primary fight will get nasty, it could divide the party, and it could certainly give Republicans a greater opportunity and more ammunition with which to hold on to the White House than they would otherwise have had. (I refer to the red phone ad and Clinton's statement that she and McCain are the candidates of experience.)

All this to say, history is not only cold comfort indeed but an argument for Clinton to withdraw.


Anonymous said...

Come on. Can you, even in your wildest dreams, see Hillary Clinton deciding to bow out of the race? Not that I can see Obama doing it either, but I *really* can't see Hillary. We are doomed to a long fight. So let's concentrate on expressing our displeasure with the increasingly negative campaigning between the two of them, and hopefully they'll get the message. PS: don't get too excited about this comment. I know you. And love you!

Anonymous said...

You must have been joking about your "argument" for Hillary to withdraw. She has just as many supporters, if not more than Obama, and she is more than qualified to be in the race. And guess what -- she might even win!

Robin Aronson said...

I wasn't joking. Obama has more delegates and more super-delegates pledged. This doesn't have to do with her qualifications, it has to do with who's winning the primary race and how quickly we can move on to succeed in the general.

Anonymous said...

So far Obama has more delegates. But the primaries aren't over. Why should only the early states' voters get to decide on the candidate. We need to wait until EVERYONE'S voices are heard.

Or maybe Obama should have dropped out back when Hillary was in the lead. That would have made the process even shorter.

Robin Aronson said...

Early states always have the most say. That's why everyone clamors to be early and we have this flap with Michigan and Florida. As for Obama dropping out when Clinton was in the lead, I'd point out that that would mean he should have dropped out before even one vote was cast in Iowa.

In this system, if you want "everyone's" vote to count, then all the primaries should be held simultaneously and under the exact same rules. Not likely.

At a certain point, the campaign has to be both about the candidate and the party if you're invested in the general goals of the party as historically articulated. It seems to me that Clinton has shown herself again and again in this campaign to be mostly interested in what the party can do for her, not what she can do for the party. And what party, not just what candidate, wins will have a significant impact on the country.