Could Senator Kaine be nominated in 2020?
The great Michael Barone wrote of the most interesting posts that I've read all year.
He looked at the Democratic Party if Hillary Clinton is defeated. Barone sees a lot of problems, and he is right:
But what if Hillary Clinton loses? The political map in that case will look quite different, with Democratic states confined to the Northeast, West Coast and a few splotches in between. The presidential Democratic Party, like the congressional Democratic Party, will be concentrated in heavily Democratic central cities, some sympathetic suburbs and scattered university towns...
One option for Democrats would be to moderate their policies, as the New Democrats urged in the 1980s and Bill Clinton did in the 1990s. After all, that proved pretty successful...
Hillary Clinton’s move from her husband’s 1990s triangulation to her near-total acceptance this year of Bernie Sanders’ left-wing platform was a rational response to changes in the Democratic primary electorate.
One lesson of recent presidential primaries is that Democratic voters are transfixed by identity politics, having elected the first black president and chosen the first female presidential nominee. Another is that there’s a large constituency for left-wing candidates.
What they haven’t been interested in is cisgendered white male liberals. The largely forgotten John Edwards fell by the wayside quickly in 2008, and Martin O’Malley, with credentials similar to those of Bill Clinton and Michael Dukakis, attracted zero support in 2016.
That leaves them with no obvious choices if Clinton loses this year. Their most visible and attractive left-wingers, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, will be over 70 in 2020. Prominent black and Hispanic officeholders tend to represent overwhelmingly Democratic constituencies and have made few of the bows to moderation that made Barack Obama a plausible national candidate in 2008.
It’s possible that a post-2016 Democratic Party could look like Britain’s Labor Party, which has abandoned the New Labor posture of Tony Blair that produced three landslide victories in 1997, 2001 and 2005. Now, under far-left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, the party seems headed for landslide defeat in 2020.
Let me add a couple of thoughts:
1) Be careful with writing a party obituary. The GOP was allegedly dead in the water after 1964. Then came Vietnam and the hippies, and V.P. Nixon was elected in 1968. Even Nixon declared himself dead in the water after losing the 1962 election in California, but he came back. So be careful with the obituary, because things always change.
2) Whom would the Democrats nominate in 2020 that could bring together the left, the public and private unions, minorities, and so on? Could Kaine survive that primary? Who could? What centrist governor is out there? What Governor Clinton is out there willing to run a centrist campaign for president? Furthermore, what Democrat constituency is willing to buy into a centrist campaign?
On the whole, Mr. Barone is right that the Democrats face exile if Clinton loses. One of the most interesting consequences of the last two Democrat presidents is that they destroyed the middle. Bill Clinton turned the South permanent red in 1994, and Obama pushed identity politics to such an extreme that the party has lost a big chunk of the white vote.
So 2016 is more than Clinton vs. Trump. It's really about the future of the Democratic Party.