Political Suicide: The Democratic Convention

So what, I hear Clinton supporters argue, why shouldn’t she take this to the Democratic Convention? Well, it wouldn’t be a first time that a Democratic candidate took their bid to the National Convention. But it would be the first time that a Democratic candidate had less than eight weeks to prepare him/herself for a successful presidential bid.

If you look at recent presidential political calenders, successful campaigns needed more than 10 weeks for success. Take for instance the choosing of Jimmy Carter during the Democratic National Convention of 1976, which occurred on July 12-15 in New York. In 1976, the presidential election was on November 2nd. This gave Jimmy Carter over fourteen weeks to prepare his national campaign against the incumbent Republican, Gerald Ford. These fourteen weeks were instrumental for Carter to invent himself as the anti-Nixon, moral leader that the country desperately needed.

However, just four years later, Carter was faced with only ten weeks to build a campaign against the new contender, Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Reagan had clearly captured the Republican nomination before the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Michigan, which officially declared him the winner in July. Contrary to this, Jimmy Carter had to fend off a vicious internal rivalry led by Ted Kennedy, that lasted until the Democratic National Convention on August 11-14, 1980 in New York. Reagan of course won, and there are a multitude of reasons for this, but the absolute pummeling that Carter suffered (he lost electorally 489 to 49 votes) suggests that more time and a more unified base could have helped him.

Now, it appeared that the Democrats had learned their lesson, for in 1992 they scheduled an early Democratic National Convention on July 13-16 in New York. This gave the Democratic contender Bill Clinton fourteen weeks to develop his national campaign against the incumbent George Bush. However, in 1996 the Democratic National Convention met on August 26-29 in Chicago. This time line would have given the Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton only eight weeks to prepare his national campaign, but luckily he had only token opposition in Lyndon LaRouche. Unlike Carter’s difficult battle with Ted Kennedy, Clinton sailed on to recapture the nomination, and his second term in office. Clinton did not have to wait until the Democratic National Convention to build his national campaign, and had no fractured base to heal.

I can continue on looking at how the political calender helps determine presidential candidates every four years. In each scenario, two very large influences is the internal political climate– is it a hotly contested primary, like Carter versus Kennedy, or lukewarm, like Clinton versus LaRouche?– and the duration in which the presidential nominee can plan his/her national campaign.

In 2008, the Democratic Party- in their infinite wisdom- chose a late date: August 25-28 in Denver Colorado. Democrats from around the country will meet to officially decide the Democratic nominee for president. The Republican National Convention is September 1-4, 2008 in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. This deadline would give each nominee between seven to eight weeks to prepare their national campaigns. There is, of course, one important difference at this point: The Republicans have known who their nominee is for the past several months.

If Hillary Clinton decides to push her campaign into the Democratic National Convention on August 25, this will give Democrats only eight weeks to try and convince independent and swing voters– and only these same eight weeks to mend the internal wounds, as the Presidential Election is on November 4, 2008.

It would be a political suicide for Democrats to let their decision last until the Convention, but I wouldn’t put it past them. When it comes to strategy and political processes, the Democratic Party is severely lacking. Howard Dean is fighting against time and poor planning at this point, and the Democratic base continues to fray. As the Democratic primary continues, I cannot help but see the irony of the situation. Lack of foresight and political planning cost the Democrats the election in 2004. Now, the same issues are coming to rear their heads in the current political calender. Superdelegates, anyone?

  • Nicholas

    Hillary needs to run as an independent with Bloomberg as VP.
    Lieberman did it in CONN. and won his senate seat.
    The democratic party doesn’t represent the mainstream
    America anymore.

    Obama is unelectable in november.

    I’m NO longer a democrat with Obama around the party.

    DNC done wrong to Hillary.

    Hillary OR McCain ’08

  • Michael

    Nicholas, I have been arguing for some time that both the Republican and Democrat parties have severe complications. That said, McCain and Obama are both electables. I don’t buy any argument that tries to paint either of these two (or Clinton for that matter) as unelectable. The sheer amounts of money and support demonstrates that the two Democratic contenders are viable— and the focused support on one Republican candidate suggests the same.

    If Clinton goes Independent, she won’t win. She will however create quite a stir, and this might change the pot some…but a Clinton going Independent is very unlikely at this point. Lieberman barely won his spot in CONN. I don’t think you’d find his success at the national level, at least for some time.

  • Michelle

    Nicholas,

    Why is Obama so unelectable? Didn’t Hillary say she’d support Obama and make sure that “Democrats take back the White House”?

    The DNC didn’t do anything to Hillary: the are fully intend on seating Florida and Michigan delegates, but you must remember that the votes in those states are not fully creditable because Hillary won mostly off of the fame associated with her name. Obama was extremely favored in Michigan (70%), so holding a re-vote would just provide Obama with Michigan and Hillary with Florida. Might as well just seat the delegates appropriately and save the nation money, something that is really important right now.

    If you would rather vote McCain than Obama, you are a) spiteful or b) one who never really held Democratic values to heart in the first place.

  • Babs

    Michelle, I can agree with your post except for the last paragraph. I’ve never voted for a Republican either, but I’m not a)spiteful or b) one who never really held Democratic values to heart. I am A) an intelligent citizen who will cross party lines to elect who I think is the best candidate for the job. That’s what we all should be doing.

  • Michel

    Babs,
    In another thread you asked people to comment on their views about McCain’s gas tax holiday plan. More than four (I think) posters heavily exposed why they thought that McCain’s plan would be heavily flawed and injurious. And you never joined the conversation after that? Why?

    In another post you stated that you didn’t believe that the Iraq war was a continuation of Bush’s policies, and yet your argument was rebutted by several posters, including me, and I know you remember that. You even asked for the help of Obama_S, adn other posters rebutted him too, in long posts with their EXPLANATIONS about why he was wrong. You never replied to that.

    In your post about why you were changing parties for McCain you said several things that I saw as contradictory, and I said why I believed it was. Maybe you didn’t read, so you never replied to it either.

    Even when a poster as rude and uninformed as Obama_S. comments something that has no support at all I try to engage with him in a conversation that presents facts, in a chat with ideas and arguments prevailing over sentiment. And he fails to follow that, but I still want him to express his ideas.

    So, tell me, are you really crossing lines to elect the best candidate? Why, in front of the heavy exposition of McCain’s current (and flawed) policies, you not only choose to hold your ground but you even stop arguing and use almost no counter-argument at all?
    Are you REALLY choosing to vote for McCain for the right reasons?
    Are you really electing the best candidate for the job?

    It’s a rethorical question, of course. But I still give you the benefit of the doubt and expect you to come up with some really substantial rationale to stand behind McCain. Elighten me, please.

  • Jane

    If the rules are the rules, then Hillary is within the rules to take this to the convention. Obama promised us unity, and he gave us a civil war instead. Well, now it’s a fight to the finish. If Obama is the nominee, millions of women well vote for McCain in November. Never forget: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Unify that.

  • Babs

    *ROFL* Only a woman can cut to the chase like that, kudos, Jane! I saw on the news last night that there is in fact a large women’s movement underway to unite behind McCain when Obama takes the nomination. If I weren’t already behind McCain, I’d join you. 🙂

  • Michel

    No, Jane… for many people, the one that fanned the flames of division was her, not him. Babs can’t see that because she’s quite biased on this point, but on this conflict Clinton took a much more agressive stance than Obama. And it’s logical, because she was the one behind on the delegate count. She felt the urge to be more agressive. So she started attacking heavily her opponent, and started to play politics of fear and smear and non-issues (among other things) to get ahead in the race. She can take it to the convention, I have no trouble with that… but that surely has divisive consequences. Every democratic process do. If you take the superdelegaes out of the equation, the Democrats nominating process is actually more democratic than the Republican’s (winner takes it all), so is natural that this spurred here on the Dems side.

    Do you believe there are no women within the Obama lines? Women of all ages and races? Your comment is a bit sexist on that point, and I prefer to think the women do not behave so bitterly and more in a calmed fashion.

  • Matt

    How about this to support McCain…

    Obama wanted to raise taxes by almost $290 Billion

    Clinton wanted to raise taxes by amost $220 Billion

    McCain vowed not to raise taxes, but still snuck in around $7 Billion

    These figures were from their proposed budget figures for 2009, I don’t remember the website.

    Speaking for myself as one of those whack-o far right wing conservatives, I support a very small and limited central government. With our given lovely array of electable candidates, McCain is the only one that I can bring myself to vote for. Although he isn’t the candidate that I would love to have in office, he is approximately $213 Billion dollars better than the next candidate that actually stood a chance. From the way things are looking now, he’s $283 Billion better than Obama.

    Now consider that this view is from a VERY general fiscal view, when I consider what each candidate wants to do with the money, the differences broaden even more.

    All in all, I personally believe that there is a good reason to support McCain in this election. As to the main topic at hand, with my views in plain sight, I hope Clinton continues to fight to the bitter end, or even past that. If Obama is elected, how funny would it be to turn his innagural (sp?) address into a Obama/Clinton debate? I’d watch it! Seriously though, the longer they fight, the better for me.

  • Babs

    Good points, Matt. The part that really scares me is that Obama not only wanted to raise taxes by $290 billion, but that he WILL do it if he’s elected.

    I’ve said from the beginning I don’t agree with everything McCain says, and that if I did I’d worry about myself. But I’ll worry about our country more if he’s not elected.

    I think they should keep on keeping on myself, and as McCain said, kick the tires on Edwards one more time while they’re at it. 🙂

  • Matt

    I think he’d certainly try. Congress has to approve it, but with a liberal congress, he’s got a far better chance of avoiding the gridlock and filabustering that would normally accompany such a dramatic budget change.

    In regards to McCain, like most people who would take the time to read these boards, he wasn’t my guy in the beginning. But as the chips fell, and the moderates and independants chose our candidate for us, he’s what we’re left with. I guess that leaves me with no real choice except to be influenced by Hannity to vote for the guy I agree with 2/3 of the time vs. the guy I agree with 0/3 of the time.

    Oh, and I think Edwards would give it a run if someone just got that guy a jet ski.