Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is it better for Hillary to have Democratic challengers?

By Richard K. Barry

Doyle McManus at the Los Angeles Times discusses whether it would be a good or a bad thing for Hillary Clinton to get a challenger or challengers for the nomination.
Like many pundits, I've written that it would be good for Clinton to have real debates with capable sparring partners, under the theory that she needs a tune-up before taking on the GOP nominee. Almost every professional campaign strategist I've talked with says that's nuts. For a front-runner, they say, debates are mostly an opportunity to commit gaffes and lose support.

He lands on the view that primaries "aren't only about choosing candidates," but are also about "refining the ideas that the nominee will take into the general election." Following that logic, he thinks it would be useful if Clinton were forced to address a number of issues such as potential increases to Social Security benefits, a higher minimum wage, stronger financial regulation, and what many see as her hawkish foreign policy. 

I would add that if Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, or Jim Webb can help make those discussions happen, that's good for Democratc politics in America, particularly progressive politics.

Is it better for Hillary Clinton, the likely nominee, to have to put herself through these paces? Would the benefit of getting a tune-up before the general election campaign outweigh any damage from potential gaffes she might make? Maybe not, but I don't care.

The left-wing of the Democratic Party should be able to hear what she has to say on issues important to them, in a context in which see can be pushed from the (relative) left.

If we only hear from her in debates with the eventual Republican nominee, anything she says will make her sound lovely to progressive ears in comparison.

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