Why Howard Dean should leave the race

(written 11/3/03) As long as I’m ranting about politics, it’s time for Howard Dean to get the hell out of the race for the Democratic nomination while he still has credibility, and throw his support to Clark. If he were serious about the priority being to get Bush out of office, that’s what he would do. Why do I say this?

It’s simple electoral politics. Southern states won’t vote for a damn yankee, New England, upper crust liberal. Period. End of story. Dean can’t win a general election against Bush. Same goes for Kerry, Lieberman, Kucinich and the rest. As my friend from Atlanta used to joke, “I didn’t know DamnYankee was two words until I was in high school!” Since JFK, no Democrat has won the presidency without being a Southerner (LBJ, Carter and Clinton), and the ones that were New England liberals were subject to the worst landslides ever recorded (Dukakis anyone?). JFK is an exception, but he barely squeaked into office, and wouldn’t have been elected if Mayor Daley hadn’t rigged Chicago (see Ted White’s The Making of the President 1960 for details – I’m going off somewhat foggy memory here). In fact, if I remember correctly, JFK’s election was the event that turned southern states away from their traditional Democrat leanings and made them the staunch Republican stronghold they are now.

The only Democratic candidate with a chance is Clark, because he has the Southern gentleman thing going for him, and because he can pound Bush for being a Commander in Chief who ducked out of military service into the National Guard. I’d love to believe that people nationwide will realize the tremendous damage Bush has done to this country in the last four years and rationally vote him out of office, but since my state just elected Schwarzenegger as its governor, I have to believe that most voters vote by instinct. And expecting southerners to vote against instinct to elect somebody who’s definitely not one of them seems unrealistic. Clark needs to be the Democratic candidate. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if Karl Rove (Bush’s political advisor) were doing his best to support the Dean campaign. There could be absolutely nothing better for the Bush campaign than a Dean candidacy. Rove would tear Dean apart. Anyway. These are the things I think about…