Should Democrats continue with their coronation of Hillary Clinton as their nominee for 2016 — prior to any official primary — they run the risk of appearing as manufactured as their Republican counterparts. They could end up looking as old-school, out of touch and unauthentic as their rivals.
Commentators point to us having been here before — when Clinton was the junior Senator from the Empire State and presumptive nominee with a brand name in politics as big as Jay Z in hip-hop (and dubious sports team deals). True: The scent of pre-2008 hype is thick the air like incense sold on a Philly street corner.
At one time, Republicans were notorious for their lock-step party loyalty and discipline — stay inside the lines, don’t swerve outside your lane and you’ll get your chance in due time. Party factionalism and the lure of fame has made that less attractive to conservatives.
Somewhere along the line — let’s say 2008 — Democrats picked up on that discipline thing. Scripts and talking points are stuck to. President Obama, who prefers quiet enforcement of party discipline, has spent a full term building that. To a degree, Dems have chosen the safe route of picking political royalty and loyalty over grassroots gospel.
It is a rather intriguing transformation to watch. After all, political parties are little more than sophisticated high school cliques with short attention spans battling for notoriety; it’s just that here, the stakes are a bit higher, and the talent shows a bit more elaborate (and expensive). Partisans snap and smack at each other like runway models cat-scratching for supremacy. It’s no surprise when each party backs its top-line talent, as voters are suckers for name ID anyway.
What’s interesting is how quickly and comfortably Dems have ditched the playbook that sent them to the White House in 2008. But will the general public have an appetite for that? If you listen to party rank-and-file, the Democratic primary seems over and done with, without and voter input, mind you, other than random, informal red-carpet E! News polls. President Hillary Clinton just sounds cool — but funny how we don’t know if she’s going to really work. It’s not like she was the one getting Israelis and Palestinians to finally sit down at the table after five years of silence. Just saying …
It’s undemocratic to decide elections before they take place. Strategists, pundits and assorted namedroppers on the left snicker at the crowded shoutfest of hard-wingers on the right lining up for the GOP primary — but, at least there’s something exciting and diversified to sink political teeth into. In terms of optics, that messy process (just like the Dems in ’08) can end up looking a whole lot more real (even when it’s not) than the gray-haired redux the left is serving up. And that’s a potentially self-destructive move considering the gradual libertarian shift of youth who believe folks like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are the dopest thing since sliced bread.
Plus, Dems should curb their irrational partisan exuberance and stop giving so much airtime to Republicans. There’s more trash talk about the wide-open and growing slate of Republican candidates than there is about the many talented Democrats who could be just as qualified to represent on the way to the White House — including some rising political fems, too, who don’t have a last name that screams political royalty. But, we won’t know about that if it’s all picked and planned out for us. How Hunger Games is that?
CHARLES D. ELLISON is a regular contributor to The Philly Post, the Washington Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune and UPTOWN Magazine. He is also the weekly Washington Insider for WDAS 105.3 FM (Philly) every Sunday at 9:50 am ET. He can be reached via Twitter @charlesdellison.