October 23, 2003

Narrowing down the Democratic field

I'm a political realist. I understand that no political party is, by itself, able to solve all of the nation's ills. I understand that great ideas come from both sides of the aisle. And, as a realist, I understand that the most important task facing America in the next year is getting George W. Bush out of any office anywhere.

This has, unquestionably, been the worst presidency in the history of the United States. Go ahead, name a more disastrous one. Whether or not you happen to blame Bush for the fact that almost everything has gone to hell in three years, he and his administration certainly didn't do a fantastic job preventing or mitigating the downward spiral we have so quickly undergone. To anyone who says differently, I ask this: where was our President in the months and weeks leading up to that fateful day when my high school classmates and I got to look down the Hudson and see pillars of smoke rising from where the World Trade Center used to be? Answer: vacationing on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The one thing Bush has done rather successfully is to completely polarize the nation on almost every issue (unless you think "Defense of Marriage Week" wasn't blatant pandering). This means that most people won't change parties from the last election to the upcoming one, and there will also be a similar outcome in the Electoral College votes. In other words, a Democratic candidate will have to win every state Gore won in 2000, and hopefully win one swing state that Bush won (which, judging by Jeb Bush's gubernatorial victory, doesn't look like it's going to be Florida).

Now, to my point. Since Bush must be given the boot, the most important attribute of any opposing candidate is his or her ability to beat Bush. So, what are the chances for each of the candidates for the Democratic nomination to win in the general election? Here is my only slightly oversimplified top nine list:

9) Congressman Dick Gephardt Yeah, right.

8) Reverend Al Sharpton Name a state that the Democrats didn't win last time that will hop on the Sharpton bandwagon this time around.

7) Congressman Dennis Kucinich Who is this man?

6) Ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun Unfortunately, it'll be a long time before a woman is elected to national office in this country.

5) Senator John Edwards Not since Woodrow Wilson beat Charles Hughes in 1916 has a candidate lost his home state but still won the general election. Bush won North Carolina by 13 percentage points last election. Think about it.

4) Governor Howard Dean Yeah, the last time a liberal Northern governor ran against a Bush in a presidential election, it went real well for the Democrats. I can still remember President Dukakis' inauguration speech. Oh, wait¬óDukakis lost 40 states.

I know what all you Dean-ites out there are saying: "Howard Dean isn't Dukakis; average voters are looking for a Washington outsider; my Birkenstocks aren't ugly," and so on.

I hate to break it to you, but the man is pretty much unelectable. Sure, maybe he could win New Hampshire, but remember, that only matters if he wins every state Gore won last time around. Just for an example, Wisconsin, which Gore won by 22/100 of a percent, carries 11 electoral votes. Recently, a poll co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel put opposition to gay marriage in the Badger State at approximately 60 percent, compared with 32 percent in favor. And while Dean has only promoted same-sex civil unions, not marriage, how many average Wisconsinites will know the difference after being brainwashed by a million attack ads? Dean loses Wisconsin, and New Hampshire is irrelevant.

3) Senator Joe Lieberman He actually does have a shot in Florida, unless my grandmother and her elderly Jewish friends in West Palm Beach decide to vote for Pat Buchanan again.

Tied for 1) Senator John Kerry Kerry is a Vietnam veteran with foreign policy experience and a reasonably moderate record. He could definitely hold all the Gore states and add either New Hampshire or Arkansas.

Tied for 1) General Wesley Clark Clark is the only Democrat who can actually beat a Republican on national security. Add to that the fact that Arkansas is his home state and you have a legitimate contender there.

So, you registered Democrats out there have four feasible options: Clark, Kerry, Lieberman, or Bush.