Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Wrong Message

Three weeks from the election it appears that Clinton is heading for a win.  Pundits and pollsters may disagree over whether the outcome will be a squeaker or a landslide, but it seems that it would take something of a cataclysm to move Trump into the lead.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, Republicans are faced with a daunting effort to rebuild the Republican brand and bring together a very divided party to regain viability.  In the short term, the Republicans in office are focused on holding onto their congressional majorities at the national and state levels.  A clear path to a winning long-term strategy is not in the offering at the moment, but it seems that most of the Republican leaders outside of the die-hard Trumpists have a pretty clear view of the future's challenges.

A Clinton win will offer a sigh of relief and a brief respite from concerns about judicial  appointments and other liberal causes, but there is a serious danger of misinterpreting the results of the Presidential contest.  Democrats are aware of the fact that winning the Presidency will have little effective value if congressional majorities are not regained, and that picture remains very unclear at this point.  The less obvious internal threat long-term is from interpreting a Clinton win as an endorsement from the electorate of the status quo.

Bernie supporters won't have a hard time discerning that is the wrong message from a Clinton win.  However, the Democratic Party establishment is going to have a more difficult time coming to grips with that reality if their candidate takes office, regardless of Hillary's obvious vulnerabilities and the strong showing of the opposition in the primaries.

Looking at congressional races around the country it is pretty clear that most of the Democratic incumbents are playing the usual game with a focus on party loyalty and traditional fund raising tactics with acceptance of support from deep pocket contributors including banks and big energy.  What portion of the next generation leaders remain tied to those strategies is hard to gauge.  A second term for Clinton seems pretty iffy under even the best circumstances, and if the Democratic leadership does not effectively acknowledge the demand for significant change, it seems inevitable that the Democrats will face the same kind of meltdown in 2020 that the Republicans are going through now.

The second tier parties are also facing a moment of truth.  The Libertarians under Johnson do not have enough of a platform to sustain a serious assault on power.  Jill Stein is a more credible spokesperson for her Green Party, but pouring all of her energy into a quixotic run for the Presidency seems to lead nowhere.  Still, there are going to be some big prizes flapping in the wind including Trump's gang, Bernie's democratic socialists and the great, little understood mass of people called Independents.

Interesting times.

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