As you may know, I listen to NPR all day while I'm at work. I need the background noise to fill up my lonely windowless office. Since I live near DC, I listen to WAMU, the NPR member station that broadcasts out of American University, and not surprisingly it has a lot of politically-oriented talk shows during the day.
I just listened to a discussion on the second half of To the Point about all the potential Democratic candidates in 2008, and I had some thoughts.
There are already a LOT of democrats who have officially declared their intent to run, formed committees to explore the possibility of running, or at least told reporters that they intend to throw their proverbial hats into the ring in the near future. I'm sure you've heard of Obama and Clinton, Kucinich is also running again, and another they discussed is Richards, the governor of New Mexico.
In the republican ring are McCain, Giuliani, and a few others...but the main candidate by far, and clearly the front-runner in the republican primary, according to the guests on To the Point, is McCain.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have a comparatively huge field of candidates with no clear front-runner. Obama and Clinton are the most talked-about names so far, and Obama has certainly created almost a mania among democrats...but there are other democrats who have very good potential to gain a lot of popularity between now and the primary elections:
Kucinich ran in 2004 and was not well-known only because the press inexplicably didn't talk much about him, according to On the Media, a WAMU show I heard on Saturday while practicing driving my new stick-shift Matrix. It's not that the press didn't like Kucinich; they simply didn't cover him much at all. If he can overcome that this time around, he could be a strong candidate.
Richards is the governor of New Mexico, and according to the guests on To the Point, if you lined up the resumes of all the current democratic presidential hopefuls without names attached, Richards would win hands-down. I'm not sure what makes that true, but they said that he has a really stellar resume compared to Obama and even Clinton. In addition, Richards is half Mexican, and should therefore have the same kind of "first-time-in-history" minority support that Obama and Clinton (black and female, respectively) are already receiving...altho, from a marketing perspective, it's unfortunate for Richards that his father wasn't the Mexican half, because as a result he has an American last name.
To the Point didn't discuss whether the large number of democratic candidates was a good or bad thing, but it seems to me like it could be a bad thing if your ultimate hope is to elect a democrat to the White House. My ultimate hope is to elect a decent and honest person who is not prohibitively conservative to the White House, and to that end I wouldn't be unhappy with McCain (more on this below), but let's assume for now that we're looking for a democrat.
Based on the information above, I think the large number of democratic presidential hopefuls could be a bad thing for the eventual goal of electing a democrat to the White House. Consider the primary elections:
Republicans vote on a choice between McCain, Giuliani, and a few others; McCain, according to To the Point, is the clear front-runner and therefore wins the republican primary with a large majority. Because of this, when the presidential election rolls around, republicans are behind McCain basically 100% because few of them voted for anyone else in the primary, and of those who did, most are still almost equally happy with McCain as they would have been with another republican.
Democrats, on the other hand, have a deeply divided vote in the primaries. New Mexico goes to Richards, and so do a few surrounding states; Obama wins a large handful of states; so does Clinton; so does Kucinich; and a small but significant number of votes go to other candidates, even though none of them wins an entire state. Whoever comes out as the overall winner gets the democratic candidacy, but there are a large number of democrats who were very excited about a different democratic candidate. They probably don't dislike the winner, but they are nonetheless disappointed that their favorite democrat won't be in the running.
McCain for the republican race is a reasonably moderate candidate, so I think that if the scenario in the above two paragraphs were to play out approximately as discussed, McCain's chances at winning the presidential election would be MUCH much higher. In fact, I'd be almost surprised if he didn't win, because the republicans would be strongly behind McCain, but the democrats who weren't as strongly behind their nominee could be more likely to vote for McCain as a moderate candidate.
This isn't an angry rant, because I wouldn't be terribly upset if McCain were our next president, especially if the house and senate were both democratic...however, I would really like to see two democratic houses AND a democrat in the White House so that a bunch can get done right away in 2008...and I also want the democrats to have a real chance at proving they can run the country really well and with minimal corruption (unlike the republicans since 2000). As long as the house, senate, and White House aren't all the same party, it will keep corruption to a minimum, but it will also probably keep any really important legislation from passing (like energy issues, taxes, and hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage that could really have an impact on the daily life of the country). So, while I wouldn't be upset to see McCain in the White House, I would be very sad to see the republicans get a majority in either house, and I would really prefer to have straight democratic rule for a while.
According to the NPR program on during my drive home (All Things Considered), Clinton is the current front-runner of the democrats, McCain is not quite as strong as To the Point believed, and Clinton is a polarazing force because of a pole that found many Americans wouldn't vote for her under any circumstances. They also mentioned Edwards, a democratic candidate I had forgotten about because they didn't mention him on To the Point. They re-emphasized the impressive resume of Richards, the governor of New Mexico.
What do you think? I welcome thoughts from republicans, democrats, and especially moderates! I would consider myself a moderate liberal...is that too contradictory?