The Electability Graveyard is Filled with Relatively Safe and Moderate Choices

In 2000, we had a situation. George W. Bush lost the popular vote but managed to gain power thanks to the Supreme Court stopping the vote count in Florida and voting 5-4 to install “Dubya” into the White House. First thing he did was another giant tax cut for the rich just like Ronald Reagan had done, and like Donald Trump would later do too. Because that’s Republican policy. Going way back. Warren Harding.

Then, thanks to Dubya spending his summer on vacation and leaving the reactionary ideologues in charge, there was a great attack on America that nobody could possibly have predicted — except for those who actually looked — as described in the Presidential Daily Brief warning that Osama Bin Laden was preparing to attack the United States.

Everything changed! People gave Dubya the benefit of the doubt as his popularity rating went up to the highest level in polling history. Imagine that. For failing to bother paying attention to America, he was rewarded. Way to go, people.

The benefit of the doubt extended to his reckless preconceived war against Iraq. The war was based on transparent lies and what was then a secret plan. But it all wound up messy, and people became dissatisfied with Dubya.

People were looking for change. Vermont Governor Howard Dean became the first big presidential candidate superstar on the internet, while the TV ignored him. But with such widespread support, the TV had to eventually introduce us to him to save its own reputation. Howard Dean had his honeymoon period briefly, then the attacks began. There were three parts to the destruction of his candidacy.

  1. Seven hundred times, the TV played video with distorted sound and basically called Howard Dean school yard names. He was not presidential — he was angry. People did not believe the TV spin directly, but they seemed to believe something far worse: they believed that others believed that Howard Dean was bad.
  2. Other Democratic candidates spent their TV time attacking Howard Dean, particularly Richard Gephardt and Joe Lieberman. Damage done, Gephardt dropped out and told his supporters to move to John Kerry. Likewise with Joe Lieberman who then bolted from the party to consider becoming a Republican. He’s back today behind the scenes running the dark money group Problem Solvers Caucus that wants House Democrats to be “bipartisan” as the Republican controlled Senate eliminates any power of Democrats.
  3. The TV swamped us with how much John Kerry was “electable” with “momentum.” Surely, this uninspiring man was exactly what the people wanted. Or more likely, he’s who the TV told us everybody else wanted, and you better get on board because you’re the only person who is uninspired by him.

Once the press finally noticed him, it was attack, attack, attack. The mainstream press enjoyed headlines like “The Delusional Dean” and “Howard Dean’s Religion Problem.” And not one serious substantive problem was found in his long political record nor in his personal life. He was about as squeaky clean as possible. But his “electability” was destroyed upon such garbage. Maybe we should have listened to Al Gore when he endorsed Howard. But not many Democrats were objecting when the 2000 election was stolen either.

Needless to say, George W. Bush got a second term. True, the 2004 election was stolen in Ohio, but it was close enough to steal. By the way, 2004 Republican turnout was way up. I could have told you then, but hopefully now you know thanks to the partisan popularity of Donald Trump — the more reactionary the Republican, the more excitement in the party base.

Would Howard Dean have won the election had the early enthusiasm not been derailed by the three-pronged attack described above? We can never know for sure, but we can know that John Kerry — the man who was sold to us — did not get into the White House. And similar “electable” candidates have faced similar fates.

Here’s a tip: When you look at the “electable” candidate and don’t believe that the candidate is very electable but believe that others believe it, try asking around. You may find that the Emperor has no clothes: electability is a mirage.

So here we are heading into 2020 with a surprisingly similar type of outrage against another reactionary Republican who stole his first election and wants to get a second term. It’s been a while and memories fade.


Front runner and twice-failed candidate Joe Biden is way ahead in the early going, mostly because Democrats have internalized their FEAR of Donald Trump according to the polls:

56 percent said it was most important to agree with their candidate on the issues, but still — two-fifths of the party’s core voters prized electability over ideological purity.

What the heck is “ideological purity” and who actually requires such a thing anyway? The poll itself asks who “comes closest to your views on issues,” but the 538 spin distorts that totally. So the internet fills with people parroting the term and arguing over the “purity” as Republicans interject shilling and laughing to inflame all the Donald Trump opponents against each other.


Of course, anyone who wants to run and can gain support should be allowed to run, but this creates a problem. Just like Joe Lieberman and Richard Gephardt gamed the 2004 primaries to break Howard Dean, a group of candidates could run those same tactics again. In particular, what are people like Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton doing running? Aren’t they two of the most outspoken so-called Democrats who wanted to diminish the power of their own party the moment Democrats got a foothold into a piece of the power structure in the House? The answer is yes. They wanted Nancy Pelosi out and they were willing to risk a Republican Speaker to get their way — until the most progressive members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided to support Nancy to prevent a Republican takeover of the hard-fought and won people’s House.

If you believe the TV, you may be wrong. The TV and the powerful party members have been wrong again and again and again. So if you settle for some uninspiring candidate out of FEAR, you could lose both the chance of getting your policies implemented AND the chance to actually get anyone in to replace Donald Trump in 2021. Leave the FEAR to the reactionary Donald Trump supporters and work for positive change. Why lose on both? Let’s try something different.