The media have already molded this 2008 Presidential Election into a "horse race". It is one about poll numbers. And one whose focus is on electability. Electability predictions are fueled by disinformation and misinformation on candidates. The media put these predictions out there to control the race. And why not? If I were part of the media, I would want a black man versus white women presidential race? That race would create the most headlines and sell the most news. There are so many topics that can be talked about in relation to a black man running since no black man has won the presidency before. And there are also so many topics to be talked about in regards to Hillary Rodham Clinton because a woman has never been president before. But even better is the fact that there never has been a First Man in our White House. And just how do Americans feel about having Bill Clinton set that standard?
The electability game is not only fostered by the media but is played by parties like the Democratic party and most often the two leading candidates. If one recalls the 2004 election, the electability argument was used to get Howard Dean out of the race, as he was making sharp criticisms of Bush and using populist rhetoric popular with the masses unlike Kerry or Edwards. Kerry and Edwards seized on the moment after the Iowa caucuses and started talking about how electable they were. Electable meant (and still means) that they have the capability of winning voters in the middle whose votes are up for grabs. The base knows all Democrats will vote Democrat and therefore, spend less time worrying on their progressive stances and more on what stances on the issues they can make to gain those in the middle or even those across the aisle, Republicans.
Think of the problem, however, that a Democrat who sets himself or herself up for a run for the White House as the most electable candidate has. John Kerry did it and failed terribly. Without making sharp criticisms of the Bush administration and without using progressive messages to win vibrant support from his base, he lost to a man who many disapproved of. There is no reason why he should have lost. Except he did.
Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, in fact, should be prepared to eat the wisdom of Dennis Kucinich if they end up successfully marginalizing him out of the race:
I think it's inconsistent to tell the American people that you oppose the war and, yet, you continue to vote to fund the war. Because every time you vote to fund the war, you're reauthorizing the war all over again.
Dennis Kucinich [Source]
Funding the war yet speaking out against it is what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have continued to do. On April 26, 2007, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted for H.R. 1591, which approved 124 billion dollars to go towards primarily the war in Iraq while also setting a timetable for withdrawal. The bill failed and instead a vote on a motion that was essentially H.R. 1591 without the troop withdrawal deadlines supported by anti-war Democrats was passed with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voting against it.
As with the attack on John Kerry where Republicans said that "he voted for the war before he voted against it", it could undoubtedly be said the Republicans will be gearing up to use the same attacks on Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. And even John Edwards or Chris Dodd. The story behind the words would not be the same, however, the words would. The Republicans will hold flip-flops in the air and say, "He (or she) voted for the war before voting against it." And then go on to talk about how they, the Democrats, continue to allow for funding without doing what should be done to show they are strong anti-war candidates. If they were truly anti-war, they would defund the war, use the funds already appropriated to bring our troops home, and then they would move the UN in to institute an international peacekeeping and security force that could finally bring peace to the region and end our "go-it-alone" strategy that has so negatively affected our standing in the world. That said, the Democrats should run a candidate who has been against the war from the start and who has consistently voted to defund the war and bring our troops home like the American people want.
Of course, there are more ways the Republicans could attack Hillary or Barack who claim to be for repairing civil liberties, fixing trade, waging peace, and allowing same-sex relationships but support the PATRIOT Act, NAFTA, further wars with Iran or Pakistan, and are against marriage rights for gay people. But Iraq was enough to bring down John Kerry. And surely, it could be enough to bring down the next Democratic candidate for president since Iraq is one of the most if not the most important issue currently in America.
Now, let's suppose that Americans settle for candidates who are deemed to be "electable". The true progressive core of the Democratic party who support Dennis Kucinich and are making noise loudly in his favor hoping for more respect and attention will inevitably roll over and vote for the Democrat who will be running against the chosen Republican in 2008 (or they will vote third-party to show their displeasure with the Democratic party). Those true progressives will demand true progressive policies that don't cater to Republicans or make their candidate weak and in their eyes, unelectable. This will no doubt divide the party. It will essentially nullify the lead the Republicans have over Democrats. And what you get is an election whose results look like this: 46% for Obama/Clinton , 48% for Romney/Giuliani. No party wins the majority. And the stench of American politics continues to grow and disenchant more Americans.
What this all is really about is our nation's two-party system that has put a stranglehold on campaigns and elections in American politics. Without no real alternative to a Democrat or a Republican, we Americans get suckered in time and time again into that "anybody but a Republican" game. Or if Republican, Republicans get suckered into that "anybody but a Democrat" game. Americans were suckered into that in 2004, which is what led to Kerry losing. Nobody can run a successful campaign on the fact that they are better than the other guy and then win the position if they do not have good policies to go with their arguments that they are better than the other guy. Kerry was better than the other guy. His policies, however, would have been poor for America because they did not demand progressive change. They were pro-war, pro-occupation, pro-USA PATRIOT Act, pro-NAFTA, anti-gay marriage policies that would have been slightly better than Bush.
In that respect, our nation should move to instant run-off voting. That is the only way we can end the electability game, do away with the "anybody but that other guy" mentality, and start to elect people who truly stick up for our values.
That said, it looks like the final two Democratic candidates who should be voted on in the primary should be Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich.
On that note, let's let Joe Scarborough have the last word on the future of the Democratic party that four years later is still entertaining that "anybody but that other guy" mentality or still foolishly playing the electability game: