The 2008 Democratic primary has earned focus earlier than any other in recent memory. Some say it’s anyone’s game. Others say Hillary Clinton already has the Democratic nomination locked up based on the poll numbers. So, who is right?
p. Ironically, they both are. In today’s global age of technology and info-sharing, no scandal can ever break too late. On the other hand, the polls show Clinton with a firm enough lead to claim the primary. The main reason is that once people see the poll numbers, they start to believe them. Plus, undecided voters will support her because everyone likes to root for a winner.
p. Why is this self-fulfilling prophecy right on track with the string of shots to the foot by the Democrats over the last decade? The polls don’t lie. Yes, Clinton holds a lead in the category of potential Democratic primary voters, but where does she stand with the majority who live in the political center? She has the highest unfavorable rating (54 percent) of any candidate in the race, in either party, and only a 45 percent approval rating, according to Rasmussen Reports. She is viewed as divisive and partisan, and more people want to vote against her than for her. So why will they nominate her? Although high numbers of intellectuals and educated citizens tend to lean to the donkey, Democrats are politically stupid. Perhaps they are too idealistic and unrealistic in elections. Sometimes, you have to nominate someone who can win.
p. The funny thing is that this time the Democrats could have their cake and eat it too. Obama and Clinton are ideologically similar, except that Obama has favorable and unfavorable ratings of 47 and 45 percent, respectively. Obama is possibly viewed this way because he is a gifted orator who paints a picture of a fresh face who wants to change the way politics work in America. It could be because his last name isn’t Clinton, a sound which makes even some moderates cringe. But the reason is irrelevant. The Democrats could nominate him, a candidate who would, according to most polls, fare better in a general election match-up against a Republican nominee, while representing Democratic ideals. But they won’t.
p. In 2000, they nominated Al Gore, but ran a campaign that left it close enough for a judge to decide. In 2004, they nominated John “Anybody but Bush” Kerry, based on, I can only assume, some kind of congressional raffle prize. Now in 2008, with a Democratic Congress, and endless possibilities for the future to advance causes like universal health care, they will nominate Hillary Clinton. She will lose in the general election. If, by some miracle, the Republicans nominate a self-destructive politician like Mitt Romney and Clinton wins, the animosity towards her will cause her to be ridden harder than Secretariat. Her every mistake will be pointed out and Congress will shift back to the Republicans, assuring that nothing will get done in her tenure and that another woman won’t be elected for 50 years.
p. But Democrats will know their mistake long before any of this. Once the Democratic National Convention rolls around and the polls show Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson in front, Obama will coolly strut out onto the dais and make a rousing, inspiring and heart-felt speech that will make everyone in the room teary-eyed and proud to be an American. When he is done talking, Hillary will walk out and speak, and Democrats will lower their Clinton signs and look down at the floor, realizing that, once again, they have handed the baton off to the wrong runner.
p. __Jared Calfee is a sophomore at the College.__