Thursday, July 26, 2018

No Ticket! Taking the Long View...

From the Uber-Yurt of S. MacCune

Apparently Mr. Well-look-it’s-Alberto-Salazar-over-here was too busy to pen today’s column.  So I find myself pinch-hitting (again). To complete the sporting theme, I am writing from a recliner situated not so far away from the Folgefonna Summer Ski Center, a mere 19 km from Jondal Centre in glacier-country, Norway.  I haven’t seen this much white powder since I helped produce Theatre of Pain.

Oh, and Spartan Considerations also told me to avoid talking about sports too much, what with the O’s and their tribulations.  After moving Machado and Britton, what's next?  Is Dan Duquette going to re-sign Pete Harnisch?

Getting back on track…like any true professional, I have one eye on 2020 and a sinking feeling about how the Democrats might blow it.

After three consecutive two-term presidencies and a sitting “Chief Executive” who could be described, mildly, as a Know-Nothing with fascistic tendencies, this should be an electoral slam-dunk for the Party of the People (also a great read from Jules Witcover).  Especially when a fair number of Republicans – and not just talking heads – are nervously eyeing the exits.

Then it hit me.  More precisely, Congressman Anthony Brown’s “voice of caution” on impeachment hit me.  Now, Colonel and former LG Brown is not a timid man.  He served his country for almost three decades in the Army, which included a tour of duty in Iraq in 2004.  His awards speak for themselves.  His personal courage is both admirable and well-documented.   

As a politician though, Mr. Brown via his recent remarks is exhibiting the same sort of inclination to “play it safe” that helped relegate the Democratic Party, at the national level, to the electoral wilderness for much of the ‘80s.    

Combined with the notion that a third of the GOP could be convinced to bolt (probably closer to 10%, 15% tops) and that Independents could be persuaded to break 55%-45% for any “reasonable” Democrat (read: centrist/corporatist establishment-type), I realized how the Democrats could miss the opportunity:

A “National Unity” ticket.

With Galloping Centrism all the rage in certain parts of the country, including
(from what I hear) Howard County, MD…this idea, on its surface, seems bold and would appear to be a combination that would compel Trump to rely on mobilizing to almost unheard-of levels an increasingly marginalized base of nationalist conservatives and what political strategist Kevin Phillips once described as “middle American radicals.”

But really, such a ticket would be a manifestation of ultra-caution born of a sense that the electorate would not be prepared to handle a 100% full-tilt progressive combination.  At the core is the misconception that the Democrats are not “Middle America” enough and that we would need a GOPer in the #2 position to serve as a link to non-coastal elites.  This is wrong-headed all around, but I can envision some strategist making the case in the summer of 2020.  He or she will rant about potential volatility amongst “swing constituencies” in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (which in this scenario will be white women who are self-described moderate/moderately conservative Republicans or Independents).  She or he will opine that the Democratic nominee could “put it away” in those and perhaps a couple other states by making a “bold choice” for the “good of the country” that expands the playing field.  270 here we come…         

But how many Republicans would really walk away from Trump and vote for a Democratic Presidential candidate, even one running with a Republican VP?  I estimate far too few.  Simultaneously, the Democrats would lose their ability to compare/contrast most effectively as any GOP running-mate would likely share Mr. Trump’s views on a range of issues…which would no doubt dispirit a sizable percentage of the D base.   And who would it be?  Sasse? Flake?  Kasich?  Corker?  Scarborough?  Who among them is a mortal-lock to help change the electoral math?  How could a Harris or Brown or Holden or Klobuchar or Landrieu or Sanders or Warren (to name a few) square their political beliefs with such a choice?  How would the Democratic Convention react to such a move?  How would the media cover it? Hint for the last three questions: not easily, not favorably, and as Democratic weakness, respectively.

The last time a National Unity ticket was tried, the country was in the midst of a Civil War…and we ended up with President Andrew Johnson (for numerous articles on Donald Trump – Andrew Johnson comparisons, just Google the relevant search terms).

So while some folks deemed to be “sensible” might start touting such a proposal following the mid-term elections, just bear this in mind:  such a pairing may make a great story for a day or two, but ultimately it will weaken the ticket’s positioning, anger many Democratic activists who believe that an All-D ticket can win, and it won’t peel away nearly enough Republicans or swing over as many Independents as proponents of such a maneuver will claim.

Yes, hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals, but someone has to be noodling on such matters.

Time to hit the slopes…before they hit back.  There’s a tagline for you.

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