A Comma, Semi-colon, Or Hyphen:
It’s Hillary’s Choice

By

Leonard Zwelling

         Both major American political parties are undergoing
dramatic transitions right before our eyes. The difference is that the GOP has
got it done and the Dems have not.

         That Donald Trump has become the presumptive nominee of the
Republican Party for President indicates a real shift from both the
ultraconservative strain of Republicanism represented by Ted Cruz and the more
establishment wing whose major face was that of Jeb Bush and now may be Paul
Ryan. It was very obvious early in this primary season that the establishment
wing had lost as Bush, Jindal, Christie and their ilk all fell by the wayside.
It took a bit longer for the Cruz Missile to fall to earth, but it did. Who ever
is voting in the GOP primaries clearly wanted something new. Somehow, the
politically incorrect racist and nativist rhetoric of the billionaire reality TV
star hit a responsive chord with this group and he’s the winner. What this will
mean for the future is unknown.

Many
of us thought the GOP was going to finally run a hardline conservative and find
out if that was what was wrong in 2008 and 2012. Had McCain and Romney been to
squishy and not right enough. Now, something else entirely took place.

         The Dems are still confused.

         Clearly they are going with an oldie (surely) but goodie
(maybe). It will be hard for Hillary not to win the nomination as she is
farther ahead of Bernie than Barack was ahead of her at the same time eight
years ago. So Hillary has an opportunity and a problem. It is clear that her
party too is moving on, but that she amassed sufficient support to corral the
nomination somehow. Who she picks for her running mate, will give us a real
clue to the direction the Dems are going.

         The comma is a short pause before the sentence goes on. If
we are to be sentenced to an additional four years of Obama/Clintons, it might
behoove the former First Lady to pick an establishment legislator like Sherrod
Brown or Cory Booker. But like Elizabeth Warren these senators all have a
vulnerability. They all come from states with Republican governors who would
name their successors should they ascend to the Vice Presidency. This could
turn the Senate red if the seat count after the next election is 50-50. That’s
probably a risk that Hillary cannot take. If a comma is the VP, look elsewhere.
I just don’t know where.

         If the pause is to be more emphatic, a semi-colon, then pick
Bernie. He’s older than she is and they would collectively be the oldest ticket
in history. They would indicate the end of something and open the door for
youth and greater liberalism in 2020. Picking Bernie now, and winning, may pave
the way for Elizabeth Warren in the future, although she is no spring chicken.

         Who would be the hyphen? It would be a minority or woman
like Tom Perez, the current Secretary of Labor, or Julian Castro, the current
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Cory Booker would be a sort of
comma-hyphen, but with Chris Christie in the New Jersey Governor’s mansion,
picking him would be a gamble for the Senate majority. The problem with these new
guys is that Mrs. Clinton has said that her top priority in picking a running
mate is choosing someone who can step into the Presidency if that were needed.
These guys are as ready as Trump for that.

         My suggestion, if the Dems really believe that Mrs. Clinton
is the last Baby Boomer Democratic Presidential nominee, is to go with the
Bern. That would mean a clean break with the past in 2020 and the GOP is on the
way already with Mr. Trump. If he wins, he has reset the table. Paul Ryan’s
days as Speaker could be numbered as could Mr. McConnell’s leading the Senate.
If Trump loses, his constituency has had a taste of the new America called old
America and they will press even harder for him or someone like him in 2020.

         This is a very unusual time in American politics—a real
inflection point. The GOP is on its way to tomorrow, even if Trump calls it
yesterday. The Dems are not, but they could be. It’s up to Grandma Boomer.

         Period.

           

             

Leonard Zwelling