2016 Democratic presidential strategy note

I wrote this post months ago, but it’s now actually 2016—the 2016 presidential election is only 10 months away—so I’ll finally give up my conscientious objection to obsessing over presidential politics for this cycle.

I’m also going to address “strategic voting,” another object of distaste. Specifically, I want to address other prospective Democratic Party primary voters, many of whom will be voting before I do.

For those who actually want to see Hillary Clinton president, there may not be much I can say. If you really want, in the words of Conor Friedersdorf, “a Patriot Act-supporting, mass-surveillance-enabling hawk who opposed gay marriage throughout the years when it mattered most, still favors the death penalty, and would re-enter the White House having cozied up particularly close to Big Finance,” then we may just be too far apart for meaningful discussion.

Perhaps I’ll try anyway, later, but for now I want to address those who are less eager for such a candidacy, but worry about “electability.” Particularly when it comes to the leading alternative, Bernie Sanders. I know from anecdotal experience as well as independent reports that a number of fellow Democrats worry, in spite of their personal preferences, that he would be too “fringe” for the general electorate and that it would be better to settle for the “safe choice” of Hillary Clinton. For these persons, a couple of reminders.

n.b. I happen to favor Mr. Sanders’s campaign, myself, so I’m not simply speculating on “the political strategy machinations” or concern-trolling.

Remember 2004? Remember the outcome of the “safe choice” of polished, “presidential” John Kerry over the “fringe,” liberal favorite Howard Dean? Yeah. Frankly I don’t assume that Dean would have fared much better, but it doesn’t seem remotely certain that he would have fared worse.

Now, even more usefully, remember 2008. On that occasion, the Democratic Party rejected the safe choice of Hillary Clinton in favor of a candidate perceived, at least, also to be from the liberal fringe. A candidate who also happened to be a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. We’ve gotten used to this, after eight years, so I encourage you to really think about what this meant.

Running against a decorated Vietnam veteran—durably feted by national media as an independent-minded “maverick” no matter how far he veered to the right—Democrats offered Americans the name “Barack Hussein Obama.”

And won.

So, please. Please, please, please, whatever else you may think about 2016 presidential candidates. Please do not operate on the assumption that Bernie Sanders is not worth considering because he’s too “out there” to have a chance with the general electorate.

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