Democrats: True to Their School of Liberalism in Selecting Candidates for President!
In 1968, After Lyndon Johnson decided not to seek another term, Hubert Humphrey of MN emerged as the leading Dem candidate, a political figure with a solid liberal record. Humphrey, known as the “Happy Warrior,” faced challenges on the left by Senator Eugene McCarthy of MN and Senator Robert Kennedy of NY, but prevailed amidst the riots and party turmoil at the Democrat convention in Chicago, only to lose to Richard Nixon. Nixon’s campaign may have been helped by the insurgent candidacy of George Wallace, former governor of AL. In a three way vote result, Nixon was elected with 302 electoral votes, versus 191 for Humphrey and 46 for Wallace.
In 1972, the Dems, perhaps annoyed by the loss of Humphrey, one of their favorite liberals, nominated a candidate even more liberal than Humphrey, George McGovern, senator from South Dakota. Nixon won re-election with 502 electoral votes, versus McGovern’s 17, with a one state win of Massachusetts. He failed to carry his home state.
In 1976, Jimmy Carter, Governor of GA, and his running mate Walter Mondale, Senator from MN, prevailed over the Rep ticket of Gerald Ford and Robert Dole. Carter ran as a centrist, won with 297 electoral votes versus 241 for the Rep ticket. He moved left after his election to promote liberalism.
In 1980, The Reps selected Ronald Reagan to run against the incumbent Dem president Jimmy Carter. A third candidate, John Anderson of Illinois, emerged as a candidate of the right. Key issues of the campaign were the economy (inflation, double digit interest rates) and foreign policy (US citizens held hostage by Iran for one year+). Reagan prevailed with 489 electoral votes, versus 49 for Carter, with no electoral votes for Anderson.
In 1984, after the loss of a favored centrist liberal James Carter, the Dems, like 1972, selected a candidate even more liberal. Walter Mondale had served as Senator from MN and VP for Carter, had a solid record of support of liberal causes. Reagan ran for his second term and prevailed over Mondale, with 525 electoral votes, versus 13 for Mondale, who carried his home state of MN and the District of Columbia.
In 1988, then VP George Bush ran for the third term of Ronald Reagan, and won the Rep nomination. On the Dem side, Michael Dukakis, Governor of Massachusetts and Senator Lloyd Bentsen of TX were the selected candidates. Dukakis, as governor of one of the most liberal states in the country, had a solid record that liberal voters could support. Bush won election with 426 electoral votes, versus 111 for the Dukakis/Bentsen ticket.
In 1992, the Democrats once again nominated a governor, selecting William Clinton of Arkansas, along with his running mate Albert Gore. Bush ran for re-election, but faced a challenge from Ross Perot who ran as an independent candidate. Clinton won 43% of the popular vote and 370 electoral votes versus 37% of the popular vote and 168 electoral votes for Bush. Perot garnered 18.9% of the votes cast, impacting the election.
In 1996, Clinton ran for a second term, was faced with a challenge from Ralph Nader on the left. And the Rep party nominated Robert Dole, Senator from KS, along with Jack Kemp, congressman from NY. Dole also faced a challenge from the right, Ross Perot once again in the running. Clinton won with 49% of total votes cast and 379 electoral votes, versus 159 for Dole. Perot garnered 8% of votes cast.
In 2000, the Dem party nominated Al Gore, who had served as VP and was a former Senator from TN. Gore’s running mate was Joe Lieberman, Senator from CT. Gore fit the profile of a classic Dem liberal. The Rep party nominated George Bush, who selected Dick Cheney as his VP candidate. Bush prevailed in a hotly contested post-election battle, with 271 electoral votes, versus 266. Ralph Nader, running as a third party candidate, garnered 3% of the vote.
Once again, in 2004, after America rejected a liberal, the Dem party went further left and nominated someone even more liberal than Gore, John Kerry of MA. He selected John Edwards, Senator from NC as his running mate. The election drew over 120 million voters, an increase of 15 million compared to 2000, with Bush prevailing with 286 electoral votes versus 251 for Kerry.
In 2008, the Dems, after losing two national elections, found their footing and selected Barack Obama as their candidate, with Senator Joe Biden of DE as VP. The Reps nominated Senator John McCain of AZ, who selected Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, as his running mate. Obama ran a Clinton-like campaign as a centrist, prevailed with 365 electoral votes, versus 173 for McCain.
In 2012, Obama prevailed over the Rep ticket headed by former Governor Mitt Romney, with 332 electoral votes versus 206 for Romney.
And that brings us to the 2016 election. The Dems nominated Hillary Clinton, a candidate more overtly liberal than Obama, whose presidency was that of a classic leftist. Trump prevailed with 306 electoral votes versus 232 for Clinton.
What is striking is the consistency of selections of liberal, leftist candidates by Democrats over a period of six decades. Aside from Bill Clinton, who could be characterized as a centrist on some issues and a liberal on other matters, the Dems have veered left every election cycle. George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry as well as Hillary Clinton all share a common world view: liberalism, characterized by beliefs such as America is a flawed nation that needs reform, commitment to expansion of government, tax and regulatory policies to control the private sector, creating and growing groups of people dependent upon government, a globalist world view that subordinates US interests, and, finally, an attitude of elitism, contempt for anyone who fails to agree with their views.
In 2016, Clinton, attired in full orange pantsuit liberal regalia, ran as a liberal in a campaign designed to appeal to the blocks of constituents vital to the Dem base and its survival, such as minorities, non-whites, and all groups who feel afflicted in our society (LGBT, illegals), while ignoring the rest of the voter base. By the time of the election, Clinton was perceived by many voters as elitist, out of touch, not trustworthy, and lost an election that was winnable.
The Democrat party has been running liberal, leftist candidates since the 1960s. What direction will the party take with its nominee for 2020?
Predictions are hard, especially about the future, said Yogi Berra. History suggests that the Democrat party will go further left than the Hillary Clinton candidacy in the 2020 election cycle. The nominee will be a leftist liberal, but with the same core Obama/Clinton/Democrat party message: We are destined to govern, and you voters are here to follow wherever we want to go.