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Doug Thompson

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Taking a walk
Democrats will have to get out the vote to win in November
By Doug Thompson
Why would Democratic voters take a walk on Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential election? All those important issues like health care, social justice and civil liberty are on the line.
Well, maybe because working-class Democrats, independents and just about everybody else have forcefully learned about the dangers of one-party rule over the past seven years.
Because a reasonable person could conclude that a vote for Republican John McCain is a vote for constitutional checks and balances.
McCain as president would act as a counter to the Democratic majority in Congress, which is about to be very large. After all, overriding a veto takes seven more votes than ending a filibuster.
The separation of powers, the best built-in guarantee of liberty, could use some vigorous re-application after the beating it’s taken over the last seven years.
There are other reasons some Democrats may sit this election out. For instance, because they’re tired of being put over barrels. Because there’s still a fight over control of the party. Because losing this presidential election would force the Democrats to confront the clear failings of their presidential nomination system. Because some Democrats believe that would be a very good thing.
Because being told they have to do something or support a particular candidate or position is something they are thoroughly tired of and justifiably suspicious about after seven years of having Bush the Lesser in the White House.
Even those Democrats who are politically active realize there’s going to be a large Democratic majority in Congress and especially the Senate, which has to confirm Supreme Court nominees. For all the talk of a “third Bush term,” the rubber-stamp Republican majority is gone. Again, checks and balances are back — unless Obama wins.
If you think Obama can’t lose this election because of how badly the Republicans messed up one-party rule, remind yourself of the many hard lessons we’ve learned about the evils of one-party rule.
This notion “they’ll come around for the election” about “Reagan Democrats” is a very, very dangerous assumption for Democrats, who still suffer from a visible, dangerous split.
First off, dissatisfied voters didn’t come around for the convention, did they?
No Democratic presidential nominee has won in a landslide since the year after Watergate. There’s a reason.
The better Democratic chances are for president going into the nomination process, the more liberal the candidate they will nominate. The more liberal their candidate, the further Democratic chances are reduced.
Bill Clinton got elected in the year after incumbent President George W. Bush had 80 percent approval ratings. Why? Because the Democratic base didn’t think the party had a chance. Therefore, a Southern moderate was able to win the nomination as more liberal candidates sat that one out.
Clinton lost the Iowa Caucus. He lost — all his famous “Comeback Kid” comments notwithstanding — the New Hampshire primary. He won the election because he was moderate.
Any year the Democrats think they can win, their skewed nomination process picks the most liberal candidate that appears electable. It’s been skewed that way since 1972.
George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry: The only one of them to win an election won after Watergate. Even Carter failed to win the Iowa Caucus that year.
This is why we’ve had presidents like Nixon. It’s not just the Republicans’ fault.
The Democratic presidential nomination system is one that clearly, badly needs reform. That’s already evident: After Iraq, Katrina, domestic spying and Halliburton, the Republicans simply should not be in this race. Yet they are, with McCain and Obama tied in the polls.
Polls in August may not mean much, but these polls show, at least, that McCain is not burdened with the weight of the Bush II administration. Notice that McCain was not the choice of the conservative base, but the GOP nomination process picked him anyway — the most electable Republican.
The idea that the conservatives had their turn under Bush, now it’s the liberals’ turn is foolish and dangerous. That would be lurching from one extreme to another.
The voters understand this far better than their critics do.

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