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February 23rd, 2016

Both Political Parties Are Broken

It seems like all the political talking heads cool kids are talking about the dysfunctional state of Republican Party. As an admitted borderline-socialist, I'm inclined to gleefully read such commentary.  However, I can't help but feel the state of affairs really isn't that much better over on the Democratic side. While the overload of Republican candidates has exposed long simmering resentments in the coalition that forms that party, the comparative paucity of Democratic candidates is equally troubling. I truly believe that the only reason Sanders ran is because with the exception of O'Malley, whose campaign no one took seriously, the Democratic Party chose to act like Clinton was a sitting President and didn't bother fielding any candidates against her, even though she was a horribly flawed candidate. If even a few well-qualified Democrats to the left of Clinton would've chosen to run, then we probably wouldn't have seen a Sanders candidacy and the current Presidential campaign would likely look much different.

Instead, the troubling state of current affairs on the Democratic slate is that we have two candidates who are horribly flawed in different ways. For a campaign that was supposed to be a well-oiled juggernaut capable of efficiently masticating and turning into cud any and all challenges, Clinton has been remarkably tone-deaf and flat-footed in its attempt to deal with Sanders. In the incredibly likely chance that she does overcome his challenge, there's little to believe that she will change the minds of independents in the general election. And while I love the tone and general vision Sanders presents, there's an awful lot to be worried about that has nothing to do with the dreaded "s-word." True, every candidate for a political office is flawed in some way, but neither Clinton nor Sanders is likely to expand their appeal outside of their respective bases. In the end, the Democrats are going to be left with a candidate whose biggest, best selling point is that they are far more sane, rational, and grounded in reality than anyone the Republicans settle upon.

That is not the stuff of winning campaigns.

Presidential candidates should be inspiring. While the fact a woman is likely to be the Democratic nominee should easily fit that bill, Clinton the politician leaves an awful lot to be desired. Something similar, though not as momentous, could be said for Sanders, who, if successful, would be the first Jew to earn the nomination of a major US political party. A campaign should make people feel excited about voting for their candidate -- it's something that Obama brought in 2008. Outside of their current supporters, I just don't think either Clinton or Sanders will bring much of that. I can't be certain that a few more Democratic candidates would have produced a more dynamic campaign, but in the end the Democratic Party's decision to throw all it's weight behind Clinton before the primaries even started created a problem just as bad as the factionalism on full display on the Republican side: the perception that a party is telling its base what's best for it rather than a party that properly responds to those it claims to represent.

I wish I could get more excited about either Sanders or Clinton. I have a feeling that much of the American electorate is going to feel the same, and that will spell serious trouble for both the Democratic Party and the American people this fall.

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