As I write this on the drive between Washington DC and Philadelphia, I’m pondering what my expectations are for the Democratic Party. When we were traveling to Cleveland, I definitely felt a bit uncomfortable, due to the fact that my values are not very compatible with my personal values system. On the other hand, I’m the poster child of being a partisan Democrat, as much as I may tend to not embrace that idea. I’m President of the College Democrats, and while I’ve supported Republican candidates at the local level, there is no Republican candidate who I could imagine supporting at the federal or statewide level. As the saying goes, I’d support a yellow dog before I’d vote for a Republican.
I’d also like to talk a little bit about the situation with Debbie Wasserman Shultz (hereby: DWS) and the DNC Wikileaks. Over the past couple of days, we’ve heard stories about how DWS and others in the Democratic Party created conditions within the party to ensure that the Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton. I’m definitely not a conspiracy theorist, and I’m of no thought that Bernie Sanders is the true Democratic nominee, and still fully support Hillary Clinton for President, but these actions are unacceptable actions by the chair of our party. A couple of hours ago, it was reported that DWS has stepped down from her duties as convention chair, in favor of Martha Fudge (D-OH) (Congrats to Rep. Fudge! I met her last summer at an education briefing while I was interning on Capitol Hill. Very thoughtful woman).
There has also been mounting pressure from many Democrats pressing for DWS to step down as chair of the Democratic Party. From my limited purview of College Democrats, Young Democrats, and North Carolina Democratic Party leaders, this seems to be pretty widespread between both supporters of Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton. With new news about DWS announcing her resignation after the DNC, it is unlikely that we’ll be seeing much from her between now and the election. I also intend to keep a close eye on her primary challenger (Tim Casanova). DWS is in a district, which has been drawn to be very favorable to her in Southern Florida, but Casanova has been endorsed by Senator Sanders, and has proven to be well funded. This may be another situation similar to Dave Brat defeating Eric Cantor in 2014. Even if DWS survives this, her star has dimmed drastically over the past few days. She may “young”, but the chances of her ever being able to successfully run for higher office appears to be low.
(Me with DWS in Feb 2015, when she was a little more popular)
Looking at the more macro issue that comes DWS’s malfeasance, questions are being raised about how united the Democratic Party will be moving forward. The goal of conventions is usually to create a correlation, where we all come together around one candidate and celebrate as the balloons drop. Leading into the Republican Convention, many people were watching carefully to see how the party united around Trump, and despite Ted Cruz’s address on Wednesday night, it seems like most Republicans are beginning to coalesce behind Trump. There are going to be certain Republicans, who Trump attacked who won’t support Trump, but I don’t see a major enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans in 2016, and in fact, I could see the Democrats lagging behind in the enthusiasm camp, as we get closer to November. It’s clear the Republican’s goal in 2016 is to make this election into a referendum on the “Failed” Obama/Clinton policies, instead of a vision of Trump policies. The Democrats have to find the vision they want to make 2016 about. Since Obama’s approval rating is hovering around 50%, Clinton will be in the unusual position where she will not have to run away from Obama, but she will still have to find a way to differentiate how her presidency will be different from Obama’s. Hillary’s presidency will likely be an extension of Obama’s second term, which will please many Democrats, but it also appears Hillary is looking to how she can increase appeal to the progressive supporters of Bernie Sanders.
Hillary has embraced improving the Affordable Care Act through an addition of a public option, as well as announced support for Bernie Sanders’s plan to make college tuition free for those families making less than 125,000 dollars a year. While there is no guarantee that these measures can be passed, I consider it a strong positive that Hillary has acknowledged these policies. An endorsement for Hillary from Bernie is a solid step, but Hillary still needs to prove that her actions back up her words. Bernie supporters have been slow to trust Hillary Clinton, and this controversy with DWS will do nothing to assuage their concerns, even though Bernie has already come out and said that he still fully supports Hillary Clinton due to the dangers that would be attached to a potential Donald Trump presidency. I’d be remise if I didn’t comment on the Vice Presidential selection.
Tim Kaine as Vice President. Sigh. It’s safe I suppose. I think most of us in the political know believed that Tim Kaine was going to be the Vice Presidential pick. He’s a good Democrat. Don’t get me wrong. I have no reason to call him a DINO. While I would have preferred a candidate who did more to appeal to the progressive wing of the party, or assisted with outreach to a minority group, Tim Kaine has been very impressive with what he’s been able to accomplish on Capitol Hill as a dealmaker. I could think of many picks, which I would have believed were stronger, but I can’t imagine Kaine drawing attention away from Hillary or having a huge gaffe, plus he doesn’t endanger a senate seat, like some other potential veeps would have (Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren).
Alas, using Hillary’s hashtag, we’re #StrongerTogether, and I think that’s what the DNC is going to prove. I would not be shocked in the least if there are some outbursts from Bernie or Bust individuals, but I also think the party has done a good job ensuring that the voices of those in Bernie’s movement will be heard in the future. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Keith Ellison, along with Bernie himself, all have speaking spots on the first day, where they will surely expound on where the progressive movement will go from here.
To those who support Bernie, but who are disappointed about what has happened in the aftermath of the primary. I hear your concerns, but we need to fight together side by side going towards November. Hillary may not move our country forward as quickly as you’d like, but Trump will move out country backwards. The ramifications of this election will be felt for years to come just through the composition of the Supreme Court. If Trump is able to win and replace RBG or Breyer on the court, along with selecting Scalia’s replacement, there will be 6-3 or even 7-2 conservative majority on SCOTUS, if Hillary wins, and is able to appoint Scalia’s replacement, along with replacements for potential retirees, Kennedy, Thomas, and RBG, we could see a 6-3 liberal majority. I may not love Hillary, but that 6-3 majority will likely protect reproductive rights, principles of equality, and many other things I’m passionate about, while a potential 6-3 conservative majority would create additional roadblocks to passing progressive legislation, even if we elected a Bernie Sanders equivalent in 2020 (can we really imagine a conservative SCOTUS upholding an expanded governmental health care system or comprehensive immigration reform?). When the balloons drop on Thursday in Philly, I expect that Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters will be ready to stand united to support our nominee. I’m excited that the Democratic convention has a little more drama to it than I originally expected, but I’m hoping that drama dies down before the end of the week. I just saw a post-RNC poll showing that Trump has gained the lead over Hillary Clinton in key battleground states. While that isn’t surprising since most candidates receive a convention bounce, I’m definitely very concerned right now, and hope that strong speeches this week will assuage my concerns. This election matters too much to stand idly by with the risk looming of electing Donald J. Trump.
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more from the City of Brotherly Love. Looking forward to having One Wiz Wit (One Phillycheese Steak, Cheese Wiz with onions. Yes, cheese wiz is awful, but I’m going to be authentic).