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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Clinton is getting that itch again - but this time it isn't because of an intern: he wants another term. He didn't come out and say so, but it's clear from his desire to change the 22nd Amendment that he wants another shot. Instead of setting a term limit on the president of two terms total, Clinton says limiting a president to two consecutive terms would be a more appropriate limit.
"There may come a time when we elect a president at age 45 or 50, and then 20 years later the country comes up against the same kind of problems the president faced before. People would like to bring that man or woman back but they would have no way to do so."
Hmm. Who do we know who fits that description? It's painfully obvious that Clinton wishes he was the president during September 11. His presidency was almost completely devoid of any national trauma, and his statements in the past year or two have shown his "if only" mindset. Clinton was transfixed on his legacy throughout his second term. His attempt at Middle East peace was a noble one, and one that should have closed the deal had Arafat recognized how sweet the peace offer was.
However, Clinton's eight year term was one of peace and prosperity - certainly the resume of a good leader, but one that lacked the disaster and subsequent triumph that marks a great president. While Bush came into office with almost no major challenges, and with the reputation of a frat cowboy, September 11 changed his resolve and afforded him the opportunity to be a great leader. On that point though, the jury is still out.
I actually think Clinton's proposal is a decent and rational consideration. I see no harm in a president coming back after another person has taken his job. After all, the point of the term limit was to keep one man (or woman) from becoming a virtual dictator. As long as a president's terms are not consecutive, it wouldn't seem that tyranny could ensue.
A change to the 22nd would be wise, though it's doubtful a grandfather clause for Clinton would be included. Regardless, it's something to consider.
A few weeks ago the President announced that he would stick with Dick Cheney as his running mate in 2004. Cheney insisted his health is good and even if it was not, he is well taken care of by a team of doctors. No doubt this is true. I’m sure Cheney is in adequate health and will continue to be a shifty and well hidden number two, but if Republicans were smart, wouldn’t they want to aim a little higher and accomplish something big with what seems to be the inevitable second term of this president?
Republicans could be on the cusp of a huge flanking move in the current political dynamics. If they played their Most Wanted playing cards right, they could effectively woo a chunk of the electorate that has largely been taken for granted by Democrats. Certainly voters make their own decisions and do not rely on superficial characteristics to determine their vote, but a bold move by the GOP couldn’t hurt.
Instead of sticking with the epitome of the stuffy, white, beholden-to-big-business, old male Republican, Dick Cheney, why not mix up the ticket and make Condoleezza Rice the second term Vice President? It makes perfect sense, if Republicans are willing to do it. That willingness could be a key to Bush’s success in 2004.
Having an African-American on the ticket would be huge for Republicans. No doubt the African-American vote would still remain with the Democratic candidate by a huge majority, but even if the lopsided ratio is reduced from the 90% or so that Al Gore earned in 2000 by even 10%, Republicans would have pulled off a massive coup (a legal one this time).
Similarly nominating the first woman for a national ticket would be a smart move for Republicans. “Women’s issues” always come into play when an election is close. Having the first female on a presidential ticket could tip the scales.
Many political commentators probably assume that Democrats will be the first party to nominate either a woman or a minority for the Presidency. I think this assumes too much. Democrats have become complacent with the makeup of their constituency. Democratic candidates take it for granted that African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, gays and lesbians, unions and other major groups will always be there. Meanwhile they do little to make a bold step towards capturing the undecided middle.
All that’s keeping unions with the Democrats is economic policy; on social issues and almost every other factor, union voters would tend to favor Republican causes. Indications are that Republicans see Hispanics as a demographic worth pursuing for success. As a Democrat this prospect frightens me; however what really bothers me is how it seems that Democrats won’t do anything to stop this inroad to their base.
African-Americans seem to be a solidly Democratic constituency, especially in recent presidential elections, though the DLC has done little to encourage a strong and legitimate (not Al Sharpton) African-American candidate from gaining a hold on the national stage. If African-Americans are such an important part of the Democratic demographic, then why don’t we see any solid candidates for President? Jewish-Americans also vote for Democratic candidates in overwhelming fashion, though with the recent cuddling of Bush and Sharon, Republicans have designs on the Jewish lobby. I doubt this has much chance at success, but the ambition of some Republican strategists isn’t matched in the DLC, and this is what worries me.
Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania ensured that gays and lesbians remain solidly with Democrats at least for the foreseeable future after his “man on dog” comments about homosexuality. Certainly Democrats are becoming far more pro-active in their support of gay issues, but if this is the only constituency that is solidly in the blue column, don’t expect Dubya to move back to Crawford any time soon.
So, why won’t Rice be the second term Vice President? Probably because the GOP isn’t all together ready for such a momentous leap forward. They are in the best position to dominate, but are probably most fearful of doing the necessary steps to do so. As a Democrat I’m relieved by the Republican inhibition towards progress, though I am comparatively anxious that Democrats have no plan for preventing it or countering it.
Democrats take their constituency for granted and leave it largely unguarded from the possibility of a political flank by the Right. As soon as Democrats realize this, the sooner they will succeed on the national level and will regain the White House. I can’t stand to see Bush win another term, but the way things are going I see no plan to stop it from happening.