by Troy M. Olson
Because I’m a big believer in the fairness doctrine (R.I.P.), because the remaining viable Republican candidates are this guy, this guy, and apparently, this guy thinks he still is. And most of all, because I believe in competing in every election, every time, in every district — here is the case for winning in 2016.
I won’t lie. This still isn’t the most important election of our lifetimes, but since writing the “Case for Losing in 2016” last month, we have had some curveballs. The main one being the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, opening up a seat on the Supreme Court and setting off political jousting and theater matched only by the Republican Primary sideshow between a ventriloquist doll, a gameshow host, and the eventual Republican nominee unless it is stolen from him at this point, Donald Trump.
In the end, the 2016 election isn’t important because of anything Sanders, Clinton, or anyone else is saying. It is highly unlikely Hillary’s November victory will carry the coattails needed to pass for instance, equal pay legislation, tax reform, or even criminal justice reform. If Bernie is able to pull off a historic comeback in the primary, it is highly unlikely someone who only recently became a Democrat will be able to work with a Democratic Party, whether it is in the majority or minority, that all too often, did not want to work with and help out President Obama.
The case for winning in 2016 is not about playing offense, but about playing defense. 2016 is not about a political revolution, or the American Dream, or making the country “Great Again”, rather it is about whether our political system can endure all of these forces that have been spiraling out of control the past four-plus decades in the areas of economic inequality, politics and the corporate media, corporate control and centralization of money in the hands of the few, and the political power and influence that money buys.
Hillary Clinton is not perfect. Bernie Sanders is not perfect. But what does it say about the strength and health of our republican democracy if we turn to Donald Trump, a man who has never held public office before, inherited more money than many make in a lifetime to “invest”, and worst of all, treats other people, especially the most vulnerable people, with contempt and disrespect?
Electing Bernie Sanders won’t make America a socialist country, or even a European-style social democracy. However, Bernie has shown himself to be a man of incredible integrity, character, and consistency throughout his life. Like previous Democratic Presidents, he started with very little and now is a remarkable comeback away from the highest political office in the land. Even if he does not win another state his influence, especially with the Millennial generation, will be felt for decades.
Electing Hillary Clinton won’t make America an alternating monarchy between a few political oligarchs. I happen to think that if Hillary was a politician that was never married to former President Bill Clinton, she may have already been President. She has had a remarkable life and career, and there is no denying that she is well-qualified to be President, if there ever is such a thing as being qualified to be President.
Finally, Electing Donald Trump will almost certainly not “Make America Great Again.” For months, pundits and voters have been trying to pin down what Trump’s ideology is. The best argument I’ve heard, courtesy of Vox, is that of Trump authoritarianism.
This country has some serious problems, but we’ve also come a long way these last eight years in many areas. Trump’s message for what is wrong with America and what will make it great again remind me of the personalist, one-party authoritarian regimes we’ve read about in history. I don’t truly believe Trump will do the things he has said he’ll do, but I also do not want to take any chances.
The 2016 Presidential election is an important one and the Democratic Party must win it. Even if the victory is lonely, even if the next administration is playing defense more than offense, relegated to commander-in-chief, appointment, and chief executive powers. Trump’s likelihood as the GOP nominee, and the likely alternative to his bully and book-burner combination, Ted Cruz, is an equally dislikable figure.
We must win, even if history strongly points to a 2020 loss and a failed opportunity in a redistricting election. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.