When I was at the First Official and Wonderful BMG Stammtisch, I remarked that I really don’t like statewide or national races. Give me a nice race for selectman or school committee, life is good.
State rep, state senator? They are good folks. I know them. I like them. Anything beyond that? If I know them, if I have a past relationship, I’m happy to help. I got involved in the last governor’s race because I met Martha Coakley long before she was elected to anything, and I genuinely like her. I have known Ed Markey for years, having many chats with him during Arlington’s Patriots’ Day parade.
President? I haven’t met a candidate since Jimmy Carter (with the obvious exception of the MA candidates), and while I will happily support the Democrat in the general election, I have no reason to get overly invested in the primary. I will take sides, maybe even slap a bumper sticker on the car, but I really reserve my passion for the local races for candidates who I have met, know, and have personally asked for my support.
So, my email is stuffed with requests to support Hillary, but I have been driving around with a Bernie sticker. He sings to me, and my pragmatic side wants Sanders to do well so the hall isn’t filled with delegates ready to anoint Hillary. Not that I don’t like Hillary, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to give any candidate an uncontested path to the nomination.
I’m watching the NH debate and I’m about to fall out of my chair when Hillary said she couldn’t be an insider, because she was a woman trying to become the first woman president. She wasn’t an insider, but every other establishment Democrat (except for Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee) sat on the sidelines out of deference to Hillary. No problem, no big deal, no need to nail down support, she’s solid in the establishment lane.
When Bernie Sanders points to Hilary and describes her as part of the establishment, and she objects with ferocity, I find it to be beyond incredible, even beyond specious. She was so establishment, such a prohibitive favourite, she could take this whole thing for granted. Quick wins in Iowa and New Hampshire against token opposition, no problem, clinch the nomination, and it’s on to the White House.
Except… it’s not the way things turned out. One of the token opponents, that fringy socialist from Vermont, has gained considerable traction. Hillary needs a boatload of help to minimise a potential 30 point loss, and suddenly she needs a strong showing in the Massachusetts primary on March 1 to counteract the potential New Hampshire disaster.
Where was Hillary on:
July 13, 2013?
June 14, 2014?
September 19, 2015?
She wasn’t at the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention.
I contend that this flurry of last-minute emails from the Clinton campaign would be much less necessary if Hillary was in Massachusetts for any of the dates listed above. These were the dates for the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention. In 2015, Hillary sent a surrogate, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, but had no presence in the previous two years.
Tip O’Neil tells the story of a neighbor who taught him that people like to be asked for their votes. This applies to Democratic activists as well. We like to be asked. One appearance, one chance to get a selfie, one trip to one (or more) Massachusetts State Convention would have built connections with a couple of thousand engaged Democrats in a manner that would have been much more effective than thousands of emails soliciting money or help.
I contend that Hillary was too much of an insider to be bothered with the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention in three successive years. She didn’t ask for our help. She didn’t take selfies with the delegates. She didn’t make connections. She thought she didn’t need to do it. And now the campaign relies on boatloads of spam to solicit help and donations when the local selectmens’ race is shaping up.
Note to future candidates: New Hampshire may be the first in the nation, but you can’t win it without Massachusetts money and volunteers. If you want to run for president, if you want to win the New Hampshire primary, you also need to work the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention.