Stuff is getting real as we enter the last days before the first in the nation Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.
The Democratic race has been somewhat dull and uninspiring. Set aside the hubris-imbued early drop-outs (Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb), those in the race, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, bring little we don’t already know to the political discussion.
Although there are differences between the candidates, the 2016 election is about one thing: retaining a Democrat in the office of president. Err… two things… funding the Democratic campaign effort with cash in donor poor states like Iowa being the other. People tend to forget the latter because by and large few engage in party work other than during the final days before elections.
The good news is recent analysis showing Iowa is expected to retain four congressional seats after the 2020 census. The other news is our races for congress will continue to be competitive. With three of four seats being held by Republicans, 2016 will be pivotal in determining whether Democrats can retain the second district and maybe pick up first and third if the planets align, we recognize the opportunity, and execute upon it. Democratic chances to pick up a seat or two diminish outside the presidential election years. We will have to work smart and hard to keep what we have and maybe add one or two Democratic congress members in 2016.
The U.S. Senate? Unless incumbent candidate Chuck Grassley does something radically different for him, he holds the upper hand before the November general election. A well financed insurgent campaign could end his too long run. State Senator Rob Hogg offers the best hope for doing that among the three current contenders in the June 7 Democratic primary. Retreads Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen are also running with little change since they were last defeated in their primary with Democrat Roxanne Conlin. Fiegen has gone all in trying to grab the coattails of Bernie Sanders. Whether that will work, whether more detailed positions than appear on his website, especially his position regarding a woman’s right to choose, would gain traction among voters in the general election is an open question.
Seven days from the Iowa Caucus, the Democratic presidential race is too close to call.
This is a season of pollsters, and clouds have risen above the two leading Democratic candidates for president. Like with our warming planet, the political atmosphere absorbs more moisture because it is warmer, and when turbulence and precipitation come, it may be a gully-washer, clearing the field.
I don’t want to be dismissive of O’Malley, but what else is there to do? The gent has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination for president. I expect him to drop out on or before Super Tuesday. Prove me wrong on that, maybe say a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe for a miracle.
Hillary Clinton’s main challenge is whether or not voters find her trustworthy. Along with that is the unspoken (at least in public) issue of her female gender.
As the Des Moines Register pointed out in yesterday’s endorsement of Clinton, “no other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience.” This harkens back to September when I decided to support Clinton for president, in part because of her knowledge and experience. Along with her global advocacy for women and children, and the potential to appoint multiple Supreme Court Justices, my decision was practical: pick the candidate with the best qualifications for the job. As others have pointed out, the practical vs. idealistic discussion is one voters are having. Based on people I talk with, the number of realists and idealists seems about even today.
We won’t hear so much about the fact Clinton is female, but opposition to a female president runs deep, not only near where I live, but across Iowa and the country. Expect this to come up during the general election, but whispering has already begun.
As far as being trustworthy, WYSIWYG with Clinton. She is unlike the Republican field in the Greek Drama politics has become in the corporate and social media. She wears a complex wardrobe of masks asserting her policy positions. If one looks behind the masks, at her core she is a Democrat, and likely a better pick than her husband was back in 1992.
What about Bernie Sanders? When I met him at a Johnson County Democrats event in 2014 I liked everything I heard. The Des Moines Register endorsement of Hillary Clinton lays out the case against Sanders — the unanswered question of how he might gain traction for his policy ideas in the stalemated political partner that is the U.S. Congress. He has had no answers to this criticism other than the need for a political revolution.
Like with Clinton, a whisper campaign about Sanders has begun, and can be expected to increase should he win the Democratic nomination. There are two things: “he’s a socialist,” and “he’s a Jew.”
Sanders describes himself as a “Democratic socialist,” but expect this to get morphed into “socialist” or the more disparaging “communist” in the general election. This is less whisper campaign than a reflection of Sanders unwillingness to embrace conventional politics. I believe we can weather the storm on this one should Sanders be the nominee. I’d like it more if he signed up for the Democratic party other than as its potential nominee, but elections are about compromise. I’ll let go of that one.
What has been written about less than I am hearing is American antisemitism that has been problematic since the nation’s inception. Wikipedia characterizes the current issue as follows:
An ABC News report in 2007 recounted that about six percent of Americans reported some feelings of prejudice against Jews. According to surveys by the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitism is rejected by clear majorities of Americans, with 64 percent of them lauding Jews’ cultural contributions to the nation in 2011, but a minority holding hateful views of Jews remain, with 19 percent of Americans supporting the antisemitic canard that Jews co-control Wall Street in 2011.
Wall Street and campaign finance reform have already become a topic among Democrats, and is expected to remain through the November election. Canard or no, if 19 percent believe Jews co-control Wall Street, the question is what percentage is in play regarding a specific vote for president. Antisemitism is real, and may be a factor if Sanders is the nominee. I’m already hearing talk about it.
As recent polls have indicated, Sanders, like Clinton, is electable against a Republican opponent. What those of us who can remember know is the margin of victory will be close in the 2016 presidential race. If the Anti-Defamation League’s analysis is accurate, Sander’s religion may come into play enough to swing the election. For me, it’s not an issue in the caucus, but then politically active Iowans are more open minded than in other states, especially in the electorate for the general election. Democrats are already talking about Sanders’ religion as a liability.
I’ve been fighting the good fight for Hillary Clinton and will until the tally is made at our caucus. I’ll support the Democratic candidate nominated July 25 in Philadelphia. Some questions will be answered Feb. 1 and seven days out which ones they are is obscured by noise in the corporate and social media.