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Springtime for politicos

Democratic Voices

Posted: April 15, 2008 4:50 p.m.
Updated: June 16, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Is this a great year, or what? It is only April and I have already voted in two elections, the presidential primary in February and local City Council race last week. And because this is the best election year ever, we get to vote two more times before it is over.

In June, Californians will have a primary election for the down ticket races, choosing candidates for state offices and Congress. Not that it will make much difference in California; we have been gerrymandered to the point where no seats will change hands, and the Democrats will remain in the majority for the foreseeable future.

Plus, Arnold, our RINO governator, is cleaving the political center, ensuring that California will continue to give the Republican Party the blue state blues for some time to come.

Every statewide election provides the moneyed special interests with the opportunity to use the initiative process to pass legislation that has no chance of being enacted into law by our hype- partisan Sacramento
government. I find these to be fascinating studies of big money interests trying to take advantage of the public's short attention span and overall disinterest in the political process.

The good news is that the people have not passed the worst initiatives; and where they have, the courts have stepped in to clean up the most egregious cases of unconstitutional excesses. When the system works, it is a thing of beauty to behold.

The June 3 balloting is just a warm-up for the Big One on Nov. 4, and California's electoral votes will once again go to the Democratic candidate and the next president of the United States. I believe that will be Barack Obama. I have great respect for Sen. Clinton and all that she has accomplished in her life to date. I would have gladly cast my vote for her in November, and I believe she would have been an excellent president.

But in obsessively studying the race and reading the analysis after analysis by political junkies even wonkier than I, the conclusion by all but her own supporters is that no matter how you do the math, Hillary Clinton cannot win the nomination straight up. Her only chance is to go totally negative on Obama and destroy him politically. But to do that, she will also split the Democratic Party and hand the White House to John McCain. Blind ambition and lust for power notwithstanding, I do not believe she will allow that to
happen.

When Al Gore decided not to run, the Clintons must have looked ahead and seen a clear path to the presidency. No Democrat could stop her from achieving the dream, and in a crowded Democratic field, only John Edwards had the stature, the money and the name recognition to defeat her; once she moved past him it would be clear sailing.

Neither Hillary Clinton, nor anybody else, ever saw Barack Obama as a credible candidate in 2008. He was a rising star, but was inexperienced, unknown to the nation, with an unproven political record. The year 2016 was to be his, given the outcome of the primaries so far, clearly the conventional wisdom was lacking.

Dreams die hard, and this election is Sen. Clinton's best and probably last chance to win the presidency, so it is completely understandable that she does not want to give up, and I do not believe she should. It may be a mathematical impossibility to for her to overcome Obama's lead in pledged candidates, but there is still a slim chance the party insiders and elected officials, now known as super delegates, will overturn the will of the people and nominate Clinton. But I doubt it. In the meantime, she is running a smart, informed, classy campaign, as is Sen. Obama, and all Democrats should be proud of the debate they have engendered.

Clearly, I don't know any more than the next guy about what will happen in the next couple of months, but a big part of the fun is making predictions and informed guesses. Many writers and pundits make a good living doing this, while I do it for the joy of being second-guessed when I prove to be spectacularly wrong.

Predictions of political outcomes may be amusing, but I know now there are no sure things. I never believed Americans would elect someone as unqualified as George Bush and make him the most powerful man on Earth, yet in 2004, they did just that. H.L. Mencken was correct; you will never go broke underestimating the taste of the American people.

In any case, I see Hillary staying in the race until June, and then the Powers That Be will take her aside, convince her that it was a great run, but that it is now over. My guess is that she will be offered some plum
Cabinet spot in the Obama administration or leadership in the Senate to cushion the blow.

The distractions of summer, the Olympics, and the conventions will keep the race on low after that. Finally, on Labor Day, the regular people begin to pay attention, and John McCain's dreams of the White House begin the long fade to oblivion, dragged down by the twin albatrosses of the Iraq War and George Bush's disastrous presidency.

There will plenty of time for microanalysis in the coming months, but this is going to be the best election year for Democrats since 1960.

Democrats will certainly increase their congressional majorities; the only question is by how much. Gains of 20 to 30 seats in the House are not out of the question, and five to six Senate seats are a real possibility.
Nothing is certain, and in politics even more so, but if Democrats remain focused and take nothing for granted (never forget 2000), the party that believes in government of the people and for the people will be in charge again. And the party that believes government is the problem will be relegated to the loyal opposition, the role they were born to play.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" rotates among several SCV Democrats.

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