Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Time For the Marty Party!

I just signed up for e-mail updates from the campaign of former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley for the Democratic presidential nomination, the better to follow it.  After all, the media certainly aren't keeping me informed of his progress.  He's been treated as a punchline in the 2016 election cycle whenever he's mentioned at all, and he's not too happy about the Democratic bigwigs falling in line behind Hillary Clinton before any Democrat has even cast a vote in a single primary or caucus or before any of the candidates have even debated.  
I'm seriously thinking of joining the O'Malley campaign as a volunteer, though I'm hedging my bets for the time being.  I don't know how much I could possibly do as a New Jersey voter or volunteer, given that the 2016 New Jersey primary isn't until June 7 - by which time the nomination could already be wrapped up by someone other than O'Malley . . . oh heck, by Hillary.  But if Marty shows any momentum sooner rather than later, I'm eager to get involved.  And I'm not even a Democrat!  (I'm an independent, because I don't want to be affiliated with either party.)
Here's the deal.  The Democrats were trounced big time in the 2014 midterm elections.  The Republican tsunami snuffed out a bunch of rising stars in the Democratic Party, and the number of Democratic rising stars was already pretty low going into the midterms.  The party is at one of its lowest ebbs in recent memory, and the party needs a strong presidential candidate.  Democratic bosses are betting on Hillary because a) she's a woman, b) she's a Clinton (a Clinton by marriage, but what the heck?), c) she's an establishment Democrat, and d) there's (supposedly) no one else with her star power.  She has the aura of inevitability, and the media are cavalierly writing off any challenges to her bid for the Democratic nomination - and and they're not even taking seriously Bernie Sanders, who's ahead of O'Malley in the race for the anti-Hillary mantle at this point.  This is because Hillary has the money, she has the momentum, and she has the résumé.  First Lady, U.S. Senator, and, most importantly, Secretary of State - heck, as President Obama's top diplomat, she visited more countries in a week than most Americans in the declining middle class will ever get to see in a lifetime.
There's just one problem: Hillary can't win.
She's too secretive. She's not very straightforward.  She equivocates too much on the issues.  Not too many people trust her.  Is this the sort of nominee the Democrats want to put up against the Republicans?
O'Malley certainly has his work cut out for him. Winning the Democratic nomination will be difficult for him, and the Democratic National Committee has certainly made it difficult for him, Sanders, or anyone else to even try.  But it's not impossible.  All O'Malley has to do is win or make a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary and concentrate on a long-term strategy  to accumulate convention delegates.  This is how Obama shattered Hillary's "aura of inevitability" in 2008.
If Sanders ends up remaining the biggest threat to Hillary, and if O'Malley backs out early, I'll have no trouble supporting Sanders.  But O'Malley is every bit as progressive as Sanders, and he has more executive experience.  He ran one of the toughest cities in America (Baltimore) before turning Maryland into a showcase for progressive values as governor.  Marty's the one!          
Right now, to be honest, not too many people agree with me.  Even Ed Schultz is dismissing him.  But hopefully O'Malley will make a strong impression in the first Democratic presidential debate in October.  The Democrats need a winner to preserve President Obama's accomplishments, and O'Malley is in the best position to effectively make that simple three-word argument against her nomination: "Hillary can't win."  Even that won't be easy, though.   The idea of O'Malley trying to distract attention from Hillary Clinton is, for the time being anyway, like a folk singer trying to get attention while standing in the same room as Taylor Swift.
All too appropriately, Martin O'Malley plays the acoustic guitar as a hobby.    

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