An Essay by member William:
Imagine for a minute that suddenly the 22nd Amendment were repealed, and that a President could serve more than two terms.
And further imagine that President Obama declared that he was going to run for the third term. And still further, that as a result, no Democrat would oppose him for the nomination. And one final feat of imagination: that it was a virtual certainty that Obama would win the third term, by about the margin he had over Mitt Romney in the last election.
Would that be a strongly positive thing for the country, for the vision of it which we have consistently been striving for? I think not.
Yes, it would be a Democratic victory; it would not be a takeover of the executive branch by the Republicans. Roe vs. Wade would be safe for a while longer. But of course the almost certainly small margin by which Obama would win, would insure that the Republicans still controlled both houses of Congress. And given the absolute hammering the Democrats took in the two midyear elections during Obama’s term, it is likely that the Republicans would even increase that majority, maybe almost to a veto-proof majority. If not quite that, then close enough so that all that Obama could do during the third term would be to veto most of the many bills which the far right-wing House and Senate would send to him. And what if the Republicans threatened to shut the government down if he did not accede to various of their demands? And what if they refused to raise the debt ceiling? What leverage would Obama have, beyond making his “grand bargain” in which he agreed to massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare?
And what about the environment? Obama can’t do anything now to compel any agreement in this country to cut coal and gas emissions. He can do a few very small things around the fringes, but nothing substantial. He can’t really do much of anything in any area, because the Congress will not pass any bills he might propose. All he can do is veto some bills, and make speeches, which the media always seems to adore, but which don’t accomplish anything concrete.
We’ve now had a year of Obama facing a Republican controlled Congress, and he seems to have virtually given up on getting anything positive accomplished; he is simply trying to mute the worst effects. Another four years of that would not only be fruitless and dreary, the country would decline in so many important ways. A stalemate is better than a loss, but we do not have the luxury of being able to let things get worse in so many crucial areas, hoping for a change four years after that. In fact, why would anyone reasonably expect that four years from Obama’s re-election to a third term, the Democrats would suddenly become able to retake the Congress? Right now, the Democratic grassroots is withering; the Democrats have almost no strength or organization in a majority of the states. Republicans control most state legislatures, and they use this power to redistrict things even more in their favor. Some Democrats may not want to realize it, but the Democratic Party is actually in a state of serious weakness, despite holding on the presidency .
Now, if one follows this logical line, it seems pretty clear that an Obama third term would be far from sufficient or significant. And of course, that is the “best case” in that scenario. Obama barely won last time; what if he were to lose this time? Consider not only where we would be for the next four years; but who could suddenly arise to take back any of the lost ground in the next election?
What is absolutely. desperately needed, is a President who could do the following things:
1) Win by a large enough margin to at least help Democrats to make some inroads in the House and Senate, maybe even win the Senate back. This is so crucial in terms of the Supreme Court seats which will be coming up before too long. A Senate completely controlled by Republicans will simply defeat any moderate-to-liberal nominee. It should be very clear that the rabid and doctrinaire Republicans who control that party, do not care about protocol or reasonable dealings; all they care about is getting their way. If the Supreme Court seat has to remain unfilled for four years, while they vote down every nominee, they will do that. Thus a Democratic Senate is essential. At the very least, we need a Senate which is closely divided enough that maybe a couple of East Coast Republican senators might finally agree to support a moderate nominee.
2). Fight the Republicans. Do not cave into them. Use the power of the presidency for all it is worth. Use Executive Orders; threaten to withhold funds from legislators’ pet projects; go directly to the people and urge them to voice their support for the President’s position. Do not make bad deals just to avoid conflict. Call the Republicans out, and explain to the American voters what is at stake; and how pernicious are the Republicans’ views on these crucial issues. In other words, try to change the national dialogue. That is something that has not been tried since Bill Clinton was president. No one in recent times was more effective in winning the national debate on economics. If it weren’t for Clinton explaining this all once again to the American people at the last Democratic convention, Obama would probably have lost the election, because he somehow lacked the ability to make the case in simple but strong fashion. Or maybe he did not identify closely enough with the Democratic Party. Democrats have to win the national debate to be able to gain popular support for their positions and programs. Otherwise, the Republican-dominated media drowns it all out, and we are in a state of perpetual deadlock, at best.
3) Build up Democratic strength on the state and Congressional level. Democrats cannot. accomplish much of anything, if all the state legislatures are controlled by Republicans. Much of what can be done on a national level can be undone by the states. And having state legislatures in which Democrats show some power, can help in Congressional elections, because there is a deeper bench of potential new candidates. Right now, the Democrats nationally have virtually no young talent, which is frightening. This desperately needs to be fixed, and without delay.
The key point I take away from all of this, is that it is not enough for the Democrats just to win the next presidential election. It has to be won by someone who has the skill and strength to do all of the above, and more. And of course it is beyond obvious that if the Democrats actually nominate someone who cannot win, things immediately get much worse. We have to win, but not with just anyone; with someone who can set about fixing things which have steadily gotten worse in the last sixteen years, through a variety of failings and faults of a variety of people.
I think that it should be abundantly clear that the only possible person who has at least a chance to achieve this, is Hillary Clinton. Senator Sanders cannot win, nor could he effectively govern. Vice President Biden would at best just be a continuation of all of the limitations of the Obama Presidency. Hillary has by far the best chance of any Democrat to win. She is smarter than all of them; all the Republicans, and the media, too. She has vowed to undertake a massive rebuilding of the Democratic Party on the state level. She has seen and done more than enough in her career to have a very clear knowledge of what the Republicans and the vast right-wing conspiracy is about. She is a fighter, and she will not give in for the sake of convenience. It is so overwhelmingly clear to me that she is the only possible person who could change the course that the country is heading on, that I am virtually amazed that she is not getting the support of every single Democrat and Independent who truly cares about the the state of this nation.