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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:13 AM
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Hillary and the Politics of Disappointment
When Democrats worry about Hillary Clintons electability, they focus on her reenergizing a depressed Republican base while demoralizing core Democratic activists, particularly those outraged about the war, and consequently losing the election. A November 26 Zogby poll, for instance, now shows her trailing the major Republican candidates, while Edwards and Obama defeat them. But theres a further danger if Hillarys nominatedthat she will win but then split the Democratic Party.

We forget that this happened with her husband Bill, because compared to Bush, hes looking awfully good. Much of Hillarys support may be nostalgia for when Americas president seemed to engage reality instead of disdaining it. But remember that over the course of Clintons presidency, the Democrats lost 6 Senate seats, 46 Congressional seats, and 9 governorships. This political bleeding began when Monica Lewinsky was still an Oregon college senior. Given Hillarys protracted support of the Iraq war, her embrace of neoconservative rhetoric on Iran, and her coziness with powerful corporate interests, she could create a similar backlash once in office, dividing and depressing the Democratic base and reversing the partys newfound momentum.

Think about 1994. Pundits credited major Republican victories to angry white men, Hillarys failed healthcare plan, and Newt Gingrichs Contract with America. But the defeat was equally rooted in a massive withdrawal of volunteer support among Democratic activists who felt politically betrayed. Nothing fostered this sense more than Bill Clintons going to the mat to push the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Angered by a sense that he was subordinating all other priorities to corporate profits, and by his cavalier attitude toward the hollowing out of Americas industrial base, labor, environmental and social-justice activists nationwide withdrew their energy from Democratic campaigns. This helped swing the election, much as the continued extension of these policies (particularly around dropping trade barriers with China) led just enough Democratic leaning voters in 2000 to help elect George Bush by staying home or voting for Ralph Nader.

No place saw a more dramatic political shift than my home state of Washington. In November 1992, Democratic activists volunteered by the thousands, hoping to end the Reagan-Bush era. On Election Day, I joined five other volunteers to help get out the vote in a swing district 20 miles south of Seattle. Volunteers had a similar presence in every major Democratic or competitive district in the state. The effort helped Clinton to carry the state and Democrats to capture eight out of nine House seats.

But by 1994 grass-roots Democratic campaigners mostly stayed home, disgruntled. In Washington State, there were barely enough people to distribute literature and make phone calls in Seattles most liberal neighborhoods, let alone in swing suburban districts. Republicans won seven of our nine congressional races, and reelected a Senator known for baiting environmentalists.

More: /

Do we really want a reprise of this?
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MethuenProgressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:14 AM
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1. Bill Clinton isn't running.
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disndat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:22 AM
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2. You missed the point
I think the writer is saying that H.C. is as divisive as Pres. Clinton was with her pro-war and corporatist position.
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Tom Rinaldo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:31 AM
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3. I agree that is essentially the point the writer attempts to make
Actually this is the second thread devoted to this piece in the last few days. Another discussion on it can be found at this link:

On the earlier thread this was my main response:

"We needed enthusiastic volunteer involvement in 2002 also and lacked it"

The author focuses on 1992, 1994, and 2006; but ignores 1996, , 1998, 2000 and 2002. In 1992 Democrats had just suffered through 8 years of Reagan as President followed by George Bush Senior for another four. Reagan got our blood boiling, and losing in 1988 hurt badly. Democrats were highly motivated in 1992 to regain the White House. I don't think all of the let down in 1994 can be placed at the foot of Bill Clinton. For a decade prior the Republican base in general had been more fired up, and more organized, than Democrats.

Bill Clinton won decisively in 1996 and Democrats did well in the Congressional elections of 1998 - partially because so many people were disgusted with the Republican Congress impeaching Clinton.

I think our difficulty mobilizing enough enthusiasm in 2000, but even more telling in the 2002 Congressional elections where we got pounded, points to a different set of conclusions. It took the growth of the internet as an alternative organizing tool plus the Iraq War to fire up a new wave of Democratic grassroots activists on behalf of the national Democratic Party. Before that the most reliable Democratic shock troops were the Unions, which have been losing political influence in America for generations, and African Americans who in fact Bill Clinton did manage to fire up to a real extent. This analysis of 1994 is two dimensional."

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