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Derailing Clinton

The Democrats and the country would be much better off with someone other than Clinton as the party's nominee.
Hillary Clinton strong defense

Michael Brendan Dougherty advises progressives to rally against a Clinton nomination. He cites her foreign policy as one reason to do this:

Hillary Clinton was molded by the Cold War liberal’s fear of looking soft on foreign policy, and she has become the John McCain of the Democratic Party. Already smarting from Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo Bay, his eager embrace of drone warfare, and his expansion of the surveillance state, do liberals really want to lock all that in under Madame Smart Power?

One of the obstacles so far to mounting a serious primary challenge to Clinton has been the lack of credible contenders. The Democratic bench has never been as weak as it has been made out to be, but there are very few that seem interested in tangling with Clinton in a fight over the direction of the party. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Ryan Lizza profiles three would-be challengers: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Here he describes how Clinton lost to an insurgent campaign last time:

These three ingredients—message, demographics, and organization—were just enough to defeat Clinton in the primaries. For the first time in modern history, a Democratic insurgency defeated the establishment.

Could it happen again? “There is going to be a challenge,” Trippi said. “And I would never underestimate the challenge if I were the Clinton campaign.”

Almost immediately the weaknesses of the would-be insurgents become apparent. Any one of the people Lizza mentions might have a solid policy-based argument against nominating Clinton, but it is much harder to see how any of them will have a competitive organization or the ability to appeal to the groups that went for Obama in 2008. As Dougherty says, there are good reasons why progressives shouldn’t want Clinton as their nominee, but there also isn’t one major defining issue comparable to the Iraq war that is likely to mobilize them against Clinton as the war did in 2008. It would be a healthy and desirable thing for Clinton face serious challengers in the primaries, but no one should expect lightning to strike twice to prevent Clinton’s nomination.

Besides, the disillusionment many progressives have experienced since Obama became president is probably discouraging them from putting their support behind any new insurgent candidacy. Obama’s primary supporters could reasonably say that many of them voted against Clinton’s foreign policy in 2008, but still ended up mostly getting Clinton’s foreign policy in practice over the next eight years anyway. Webb has been a more consistent antiwar politician over the last decade than Obama, but having been let down so thoroughly by Obama on this score it wouldn’t be surprising if there is not that much enthusiasm for another candidate making similar arguments. The Democrats and the country would be much better off with someone other than Clinton as the party’s nominee, so I wish the challengers luck, but I don’t see how any of them succeed.



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