As I was tooling around town today, I heard many people still talking about the last Republican debate. These conversations weren’t just radio and TV talking heads telling us what we saw and heard; they included people I ran into in stores, and in random snippets of conversation I overheard while getting lunch and walking back to my office. A lot of people were still talking about it.
That very fact, the sheer number of people talking about the debate, even these several days later, is why the Republicans will win back the presidency. We heard plenty of chatter about the debate prior to it, plenty during the debate, and not just on CNN which broadcast the thing (kind of a play-by-play thing) and, of course, plenty afterward. We’ll probably still be talking about it in a couple weeks.
So where are the Democrats? Where’s the buzz with them? We get some stories about Hillary (please be to god, no) and some also about Bernie (will never happen), and now some about Biden (again, please be to god, no). Nothing on the others who are running (for completeness, the slate currently includes those three worthies plus Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, and Martin O’Malley. Others have announced, but those are the big name candidates). The Dems are having a debate . . soon . . but we’re not hearing anything about that.
Hillary’s name is typically mentioned in one of two ways right now. First with regard to the private server and whether she used that server and her personal email accounts for State Department business. She’s also mentioned in opposition to Bernie Sanders, how he’s (currently) gaining on her if not overtaking her and her supporters putting out negative campaign ads about Sanders. Very little about her substantive positions. She’s trying to stay relevant by taking shots at Trump, but little about her own positions (perhaps because that would take away from her being spontaneous, which her campaign announced she would be from now on). We hear about Sanders as contrasted to Hillary, i.e., his opposition to her and how he’s gaining on her in the polls. Because of those gains, he’s making the rounds more on TV (presumably also on radio), so in some respects we are hearing more from/about him. But of the others? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.
If the Democrats want to be relevant in 2016, they need to get off the dime and start acting like they care about the election. They also have to reinforce the feeling that Hillary does not have the nomination locked up; she’s too vulnerable and problematic a candidate to be the presumptive nominee.
They have to publicize the daylights out of the upcoming debate. The other candidates must get out and make themselves visible. In a word, they have to become relevant. The Republicans are highly vulnerable and are not guaranteed of a win. Proof of that is the current racist, bigoted poll leader, Donald Trump. But the Democrats need to start acting.
The only reason I can think of not to do that at this point – and understand we’re some 14 months away from the 2016 general election – is fear of overexposure, a fear of wearing out the brand. And those are very real problems and could come to pass.
But from where I stand, Democrats are losing the opportunity to take some of the thunder away from the Republicans. In politics, oftentimes it’s not how you get your name in the news but that you do get it in the news. The Republicans are in the news, constantly. Even lesser tier candidates like Jindal (see my reaction to Hillary and Biden) and Ted Cruz (ditto, but more so) are getting some publicity. We know where the Republicans stand and what they stand for (more accurately, what they stand against). But we don’t know much about the Democrats, what their positions are and what they’re against.
It’s seriously as though the Democrats are an afterthought. It’s as though the Dems have nothing to offer other than opposition to the Republicans. Maybe that’s true.
But it’s also why the Republicans will win in 2016.