Shooting From The Left

Dan Murphy

It was a cold morning on January 20, 2005. President-elect John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz had just attended mass at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. At the strike of noon, with his hand on the bible, John Kerry recited the oath from Chief Justice William Rehnquist and became the 44th President of the United States. His speech was one of humility and grace, thanking his predecessor for guiding the country out of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Kerry outlined his vision for a stronger America at home and abroad. Stressing international cooperation, he reached out to alienated European nations. Kerry then addressed the American people directly. “America is at war and we have a responsibility to see our commitments in Iraq to the end. However, our brave soldier cannot do this alone. They need your help. They need your sacrifices. They need your prayers. Militaries do not win wars, countries win wars, and the people of this great country, must sacrifice in order for us to succeed….” And then I woke up and became sad. I suddenly realized that George Bush won the election. John Kerry is still the junior senator from Massachusetts. Many of my fellow liberals never imagined President Bush being sworn in for a second time, yet it is our reality. But I’m not going to be a sore loser. Bush ran the better campaign and he won. For the Democrats, these next four years consist of real soul searching and planning.

As an optimist, I’m already looking to the future of the party. Here is a short list of possible contenders the Democrats can nominate for the presidency in 2008.

Barack Obama: He’s young and inexperienced, however he is the future of the party. In a year of horror for the Democratic Party, Obama provided a bright spot when he destroyed Alan Keyes in his Illinois Senate race last fall. Obama received over 70 percent of the vote. His energetic keynote speech at the Democratic Convention gave party members a glimpse of this guy’s ability to command a podium. Hiliary Rodham Clinton. Prevailing opinion says that she has no chance and is too divisive to run for president. I disagree with this. When she ran for Senate in New York against Rick Lazio, people said the same thing. Clinton ran an excellent campaign and now enjoys a high approval rating among New Yorkers, who were skeptical of her at the outset of her Senate term. Going against her chances is her very liberal voting record in the Senate. Also her position as a northern senator is likely to alienate southern voters. The Democratic Party has not elected a president from the north since John Kennedy.

John Edwards. The former North Carolina Senator became a household name and was a strong Vice Presidential nominee for John Kerry. As a campaigner, there are few better than Edwards as his style is reminiscent of another great Democrat, President Bill Clinton. His working class southern roots are a big bonus for him as are his moderate stances on social issues. Many argued that it was Edwards, not Kerry, who should have been the nominee in 2004.

Aside from these three it’s difficult to foresee what the political landscape will be in 2008. Will Bush attack Iran? Will his social security privatization plan succeed? Who will Bush nominate to the Supreme Court? These political questions will largely determine what the political environment will be 4 years from now. An equally important question is: Who will the Republicans nominate? Will it be the moderates: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain or George Pataki? Or will they go with another hard right nominee: Rick Santorum or Bill Frist? These will be four more critical years for the future and viability of he Democratic Party. If they make and right moves, and get a little lucky along the way, there dreams can become a reality.