What Webb and Teachout Have in Common Is More Important Than What They Don’t
Yesterday, I said I hoped Jim Webb will challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination, in spite of his very poor prospects for victory. If he did so, he’d almost certainly be perceived in some quarters as a more “right-wing” alternative because, in a cultural sense, that’s where he belongs. But from my perspective, his most important attacks would be functionally from the left: particularly on foreign policy, but also on Executive power and on some economic questions, such as reining in the influence of Wall Street. Plus, his stubborn independence of mind would by definition be a challenge to the drearily calculating establishmentarianism of the Clinton machine. I also said that Webb is “not Elizabeth Warren or Zephyr Teachout.” Which might have led some people to believe that, if I like Webb, I must not like Warren or Teachout. But that’s not the case. Teachout in particular is the real deal, and has been running a highly principled race for Governor of New York that has already forced Governor Cuomo to move to his left on the issues that matter to her. I give Cuomo credit for running a tight fiscal ship – that record is a big reason he’s running as strongly as he is in the general election. But I also think there’s a difference between running a tight ship and steering the ship where monied interests want it steered. Teachout is pointing out that difference. She’s run an old-fashioned and completely sincere left-wing good-government campaign. We could use more of them. They can help keep the ship pointed in the right direction even if they aren’t electorally successful.