Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spare Us From Electable Candidates

So Kos is pumping some political consultant's early take on the '08 presidential election, and in particular the guy's 10-point guidelines for electoral success. Some of it manages to be non-stupid, but when I got to the last point I just about choked:

10. Winning is everything. And the only thing. As in 2004, Democrats want to win. Unlike 2004, they REALLY want to win. No candidate will secure the nomination whom they fear will lose to the Republican nominee. Electability is going to play a major role in 2008.

Didn't we go down this road already? I'm pretty sure we did, because David Brooks wrote this brilliant column on it two years ago (I think it was my favorite column of the election cycle). Now it must be acknowledged that our system encourages strategic voting. Certainly we've hashed that topic out in mind-numbing detail with Dave some time ago (the 'winner takes all vs. coalition government' argument). But this is just ridiculous.

As Brooks rightly notes, what we get is a bunch of Iowa liberals trying to predict who Palm Beach independents want to vote for. This would be strategic if their analysis wasn't so stultifyingly stupid. Invariably this leads to lots of primary voters watching TV and listening to pundits spewing out the breathtakingly idiotic conventional wisdom to find out who is "electable". But the TV pundits are watching the voters who are watching them (and are too stupid to find their way out of a paper bag on top of it). As Brooks again astutely points out, it's a gigantic post-modern circle-jerk, culminating in someone winning in Iowa and being anointed with the ultimate mark of electability, that of having just won an election. At this point the rest is perfunctory. I'll make one guarantee: the Democrats will end up with a more electable candidate if they vote for the candidate they feel in their hearts is the best candidate than they will if they play the electability game. God save us from another "electable" nominee. I don't think the party could survive it...

No comments: