Suddenly this summer .. a wild scenario for a 16-year New Democratic Age in the USA?

Aug 11th, 2007 | By | Category: USA Today

The summering partners of the counterweights editors up here in Canada have just emailed a bizarre new theory about the near-term future of American politics. They say they arrived at their propositions after a tough mid August 2007 evening, watching MSNBC TV. But, it turns out, no less than Newt Gingrich had already started the ball rolling at the end of July. The broad outline is simple enough. Hillary Clinton finally does win the Democratic primary next year. Then she chooses Barack Obama as her vice-presidential running mate. The Clinton-Obama ticket wins in 2008 and then again in 2012. Then a new Obama-? ticket wins again in 2016 and 2020. This gives 16 years in which to “change America,” as Ms. Clinton puts it on TV. In some fresh new directions at last, more in tune with both the changing realities of the new global village, and the truest ancient traditions of grass-roots American democracy.

Why would Obama do it?

Of course, it is still no doubt unlikely that anything quite like this will ever actually happen. But it may be interesting that such things can somehow at least start to be imagined this summer.

Of course as well, some will immediately point to a number of potential problems with the theory. Why would Barack Obama, e.g., finally agree to serve as Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate in 2008?

To start with, recent investigations of Dick Cheney’s role in the Bush II White House have cast some fresh light on the history of the office of Vice President of the USA. And the numbers do show that it can be a potent enough route to the office of President itself. (The tradition starts with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and includes Theodore Roosevelt, as well as Harry Truman, etc.)

Obama, you might guess, even at this absurdly early stage in his and everyone else’s campaign, arguably enough needs some additional seasoning in the corridors of power before he is quite ready for the White House. And yet, even the polls seem to hint, he is already the ultimate class act among the current crop of Democratic hopefuls. Whatever else, for many people he has brought almost surprising fresh hope to the mainstream US political scene.

In the very end the symbolism of at last having a black president of the American Republic would be an overwhelmingly positive and forward-looking boost to both the USA and rest of the free and democratic global village. Obama’s performance this summer has been good enough to suggest that maybe this could even happen. Especially if he gets the seasoning he needs serving for eight years as some kind of creative and innovative vice president in a new Clinton-Obama administration that starts to change America, the way it needs to be changed, at last.

What’s in it for Hillary … and us?

Meanwhile, if anyone has a realistic chance of starting to change America in 2008, in the summer of 2007 it is beginning to seem increasingly clear (for the moment at least?) that it is going to be Hillary Clinton. (Again, just look at the polling numbers?) But why would she take the massively bold, courageous, daring (and some would say for her dangerous) step of asking Barack Obama to be her vice-presidential running mate? And wouldn’t, e.g., a Clinton-Obama ticket – with too many too northern overtones from Illinois – even be the kiss of death in the increasingly crucial rising demographic giant of the southwest, or south and west, broadly defined?

To start with here, the theory is that a Clinton-Obama ticket stands the best chance of finally mobilizing and energizing the popular new democratic constituency in the USA that President Hillary Clinton is going to need if she really is going to change America. Coming up with a much more sensible American foreign policy, environmental policy, health care system, immigration policy, and broad community support for the crucial mass middle-class majority (that works hard and plays by the rules, etc) is going to take a lot more than Ms. Clinton and a brainy staff in Washington. Barack Obama can help make what will need to happen down on the ground across the country come together – in a way that is true of no other potential Clinton II VP.

And then a Clinton-Obama ticket is bound to have very strong appeal for the crucial enough black vote in many parts of the south. It will also have the infinite retail political skills of Bill Clinton from Arkansas at its disposal

Ms. Clinton’s historic and Mr. Obama’s current ties to the legendary northern State of Illinois suggest another kind of potential powerful symbolism for a Clinton-Obama ticket. It really is time in the USA today to set aside the old partisan ideological antagonisms, and reach out for a fresh pragmatic consensus around the center (albeit one that does tilt somewhat more to the progressive left than has been the case for virtually a generation now).

Illinois is also the state of Abraham Lincoln. And a Clinton-Obama ticket could finally revive the traditions of Lincoln the Republican in the 19th century, as a kind of Lincoln the Democrat in the 21st century. (More or less, if this is not stretching a bit too much, as Ronald Reagan revived Franklin D. Roosevelt the Democrat of the 1930s as Roosevelt the Republican in the 1980s?)

L’envoi …

Our summering counterweights partners up in the true north are at best just adding some frills here, to a concept that has been floating about the USA today for some time. If you search “Clinton-Obama Ticket” on Google right now, your top four results are: a post from July 2005 called “Why A Clinton/Obama Ticket Cannot Win In 2008“; a US News and World Report article from November 2006 headlined “Clinton-Obama Ticket Stirs Fear in GOP” ; and two items from just this past July 30, 2007, on how “Gingrich Predicts Clinton-Obama Ticket.”

Mr. Gingrich is, no doubt, not allowing himself to imagine that a Clinton-Obama ticket might actually win in 2008, and then go on to lay the groundwork for a 16-year New Democratic Age in America, that puts the mindlessly right-wing neo-con nightmare of the past generation to rest, for a good deal of the immediate future at least. And for the moment this probably does still remain a recklessly rash concept for democrats inside the USA today itself to quite seriously entertain.

But up here in Canada, where we don’t actually vote in but only carefully observe American elections, just thinking about such a concept can nonetheless bring smiles to many faces that haven’t really smiled in years. And why not? It’s about time something good happened to the good guys in America. (And, as has been said long ago, Canadians, who among other things have a lot of oil these days, always do “vote Democratic in American elections” anyway.)


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