2008 was a very different year. Democrats were trying to replace a Republican president who had job disapproval ratings in the mid-60s to low 70s throughout the summer and fall of 2008. Democrats -- both Obama and Clinton-- were pledging to change the direction of the country in a year when more than 80% of Americans consistently told pollsters the country was on the wrong track.
So Democrats could afford a little disunity. They had the wind at their backs.
They don't have the wind at their backs now. They're trying to win a third straight election, something that's been done only once by a party in the past 56 years (the GOP in 1980/1984/1988). President Obama's approval/disapproval numbers right now, according to Gallup, are 51%/45% -- but that's not overwhelmingly positive the way Bush's numbers in 2008 were overwhelmingly negative. And the "right direction/wrong track" numbers are still negative -- not as negative as they were in 2008, but they'd have to be as positive now as they were negative in 2008 for the two elections to be analogous for the Democrats. We'd need 80+% of the country to be happy with the way things are going; we have about 30%.
(And even in 2000, when the country was extremely happy with the status quo under a retiring Democratic president, the Democrat who wanted to be his successor couldn't put the election away.)
No, the Democrats can't afford the luxury of a sustained fight. Not this year.
Oh let's fight anyway. A little while longer, June at least? There's still be months left to fight the real bad guys, yes?
Then again, we could fight in the streets like it's 1968, when ...
... the Democratic Party establishment, led by the authoritarian Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, rigged the nominating process at the Democratic National Convention.
In the run-up to the Convention, over 80% of Democratic primary voters sided with the two anti-war candidates, Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-NY), the victim of an assassination, and Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-MN). The will of the electorate was ignored by party elites. Daley’s backroom maneuvers secured the nomination for a candidate who had not won a single primary — Vice President Humbert Humphrey.
Daley’s authoritarian manipulation of the process produced chaos and violence both inside and outside of the convention. During a convention speech, Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT) denounced what he described as the “Gestapo tactics” of the Chicago PD — tactics that a federal commission later described as a “police riot” orchestrated by Daley. The violence and chaos inside and outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, not to mention the betrayal of the anti-war sentiments of the electorate by the party establishment, led to the party’s demise that November and six more years of carnage in Vietnam.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz isn't as stupid and malicious as Daley, but we get the point. There's going to be a lot of yelling "RELAX!" at each other, some calls to simmer down, shut up, or go away.
Matthew Yglesias makes the case that Bernie will -- sooner than the convention in July -- back down, endorse Clinton, herd his sheep in behind her. He uses the tired trope of comparing Jill Stein to Ralph Nader and using the word 'spoiler', but even without that mistake, some of Bernie's herd will still go astray, most certainly. Even Noam Chomsky encourages swing state voters to wait until the last minute, watching to see if your state is in Electoral College play before casting a ballot, saving Hillary Clinton and the rest of us from Donald Trump.
But the 2016 election is much more likely to be disrupted by the Libertarians, Gary Johnson and William Weld, who are already polling at ten percent. Bill Kristol, the very model of modern autocratic arrogance, has selected the GOP's alternative to Trump without soiling his gloves on any of those messy primaries or that nasty voting business. And he has picked obscure conservative blogger David French, the Rick Santorum of 2016. What fun.
Update: More from Steve Benen on French. And this from Non Prophet News details the historical ramifications of strong alternate party bids, from Teddy Roosevelt to Strom Thurmond to George Wallace to Ross Perot. Notably not Nader. That's a myth, as we all should know by now.
I'll have to miss the state convention here in Deep-In-Hearta; Mrs. Diddie's new hip and Mom's 90th birthday take precedence over the desire I have to get in a fight with some Clinton folks and wind up in the Bexar County Jail, to say nothing of the thrill of listening to the minions cheer Hillary's coronation, watching as the parliamentarians run Robert's-Rules-roughshod over the Sanders delegation, and generally drive off what remains of a Democratic progressive wing in the party. To be followed by a reprise at the DNC in Philly in July.
So enjoy, Texas Democrats! You've once again managed to silence the voices that would lead to an invigorated Democratic Party in Texas in favor of a conservative, corporate-controlled Republican Lite version, the kind of Democrats that haven't won a statewide election in a generation. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Dream big of turning Texas blue like you usually do. In the meantime you'll find me reporting on the only progressive presidential nominating convention left, the US Greens here in August.