[personal profile] barking_iguana
Both parties have weak fields (from a non-ideological perspective, just in electoral ability) for very different reasons.

The Republicans have spent decades developing a culture where nobody can remain relevant inside the tent while calling out the bullshit that people who are passionate but don't think very hard can be led to believe. The Democrats have just as big a proportion of passionate people who don't think very hard. But if you pander to them more than just a little bit, there's no state in the country where a Democrat can expect to be nominated for governor or senator.

The Republicans, though, insist on candidates who believe, or give a very convincing show of believing nine impossible things before every spaghetti breakfast, Rotary Lunch, and rubber-chicken dinner. And at those functions, no one will question the nonsense. So the candidates are all either dumb enough to actually believe the bullshit or are habitual liars who are unpracticed at selling the lies before skeptical audiences.

Well, there are a few exceptions. There are the Stepford Candidates, like Romney, with no there there at all. And there are the grifters, who only pretend to be candidates and make a lot more money on FOX than they could running anything and who care a lot more about money than they do about running anything.

The Democratic problem is not quite as systemic. Hillary Clinton is as good at insider politics as Bill is at retail politics. She cultivates opinion makers--the leaders of organizations, prominent media people, and anyone else she can sit down with for more than 90 seconds. By doing that, she convinced almost everyone that it was her turn and that her nomination was inevitable. So the kind of candidates one would normally consider strongly electable didn't run.

The problem, HRC is as bad at talking to voters en masse as WJC is good at it. The skills she does have can make her be taken seriously by the punditocracy. But they can't get people to actually vote for her. Sure, she does have some genuine support. And in this field, it may well get her both nominated and elected. But in a strong field, she'd fall flatter than she did lat time, and she may yet.

(In case anyone's wondering, I support Bernie Sanders. My first campaign was 1972, with McGovern at the top of the ticket. I'm well aware of the danger of candidates too far from the center. Both for themselves and in negative coattails. But Sanders seems a more capable campaigner than McGovern. If Clinton shows that she can relate to people more like her husband or Reagan or Obama than like Romney or Dukakis, I may reconsider. If Sanders shows that he is personally unappealing to typical swing voters, I will reconsider. But so far, neither of those things are true and I support Sanders. In this weak field, he might just win both the nomination and the general election, and that would be unimaginably good.)

When I said the Democrat's problem is less systemic, that doesn't make it 100% unsystemic. There is a cozy feeling among those who wield power and think they do it responsibly, for the general good. The mainstream media, people who work in non-profits, and sincere politicians have respect for each other in ways they don't respect the general public. That's not evil, the general public is often generally stupid. It's not surprising that they want to let their hair down only among those who 'get it.'

But that gives them a very skewed perception of who's in the world. The people they talk to are White, upper middle class, generally over 40, and have a history of career success. (And on the conservative side, but not the liberal side, overwhelmingly male.) It makes them assume that anyone who shares their values also shares their experience. It is because of such an insular community of people out int he world making a difference that they think they have both more control over and a better read on what the electorate will do. That was the precondition for Clinton being assumed to be inevitable.
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