The entry of Bernie Sanders into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination contest isn’t clearly good or clearly bad for the presumptive nominee, but it should provide Clinton and American voters with something they probably won’t see on the Republican side… a rational policy-based discussion and debate.
Like her husband, one of Hillary Clinton’s best political assets is the incompetence and transparent cravenness of her loudest critics. When political partisans are desperate to bring down a strong opponent, they sometimes grab at straws, throw everything they can at the wall in hopes that something will stick. Attacks and accusations against Secretary Clinton have been numerous and unrelenting, and yet so far none have lived up to the fevered hype of her GOP accusers.
Remember the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?” The modern GOP has clearly forgotten the point of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Much of the gaping credibility deficit of today’s Republican Party is the byproduct of what Jeffrey Berry and Sarah Sobieraj call The Outrage Industry. The hottest thing in the media business is outrage peddling and, unfortunately for Republicans, politically conservative consumers can’t get enough of it. The market for conservative outrage is flooded with low quality product that is crowding out serious criticism of folks like Hillary Clinton and President Obama. A recent appearance by Rick Santorum in which an audience member accused the President of being a communist dictator who had bombed Charleston, South Carolina provides a vivid example of a level of stupidity that now finds its way into many if not most Republican conclaves. I was struck by the irony of this year’s GOPAC meeting, which used to be a showcase for conservative extremism. In 2015 it was just another day in Republican politics.
I am thrilled to have Bernie Sanders in the race for president because he is a message pol whose message will improve the quality of the campaign. Whether it will ultimately help or hurt the eventual Democratic nominee is not yet clear, though there is also no sign that the “Stupid Party” will be smartening up anytime soon.
The good news is that we live in Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Republican Party seems to be headed in the right direction behind the leadership of the “most popular politician in America,” Governor Charlie Baker. I share the sentiments of Republican activist Ed Lyons, who recently encouraged his fellow Republicans around the nation to look to the Bay State as a model of how Republicans should seek to govern.