THE BLOG
11/18/2014 05:33 pm ET Updated Jan 17, 2015

Democrats Need to Coalesce Around Hillary Clinton Early

Many people on the left are arguing that after the sound drubbing the Democrats received on November 4th, the party needs liberal-minded candidates in order to energize the base and keep the White House in 2016. While a host of progressive issues are dear to many of us, none of these should cloud our judgment in getting behind the one person who could not only win, but effectively govern this country and keep the conservative dogs at bay...Hillary Clinton.

One need not look any further than the obvious in that Hillary is probably the only candidate, on either side, that can appeal to the election-deciding center from all parts of the country in a general election and potentially bring a wave of Democratic candidates along for the ride. While primaries are good for pushing candidates to the left, Democrats need not spend any time vetting numerous liberal wonder-children, wasting precious resources, only to slip-up and rally behind an electoral loser that could only win a few blue states at best. Idealism and pure progressive principles are wonderful, having Rand Paul or Jeb Bush in the White House is not. True, Hillary Clinton may be a moderate whose candidacy even Wall Street and the defense industry could support, but those eighteen million working class cracks in the 2008 ceiling prove she's just the type of person that most sane and centrist voters could find something to support.

Additionally, while Democrats and the media are the first to complain how Republicans refuse to compromise and get things done in D.C., we are in the position to potentially nominate a candidate that actually has a track record of Washington bi-partisanship. During her tenure as Senator from New York, Hillary repeatedly reached across the aisle for the good of Americans, even working with former enemies of her husband and some of the most conservative beltway rabble-rousers, including Tom Delay and Rick Santorum. Democrats cannot afford to select a candidate who solely trumpets a populist message, but ignores the realities of governing a nation deeply divided. Americans need someone who will not only look out for their interests, but will get things done.

Further, to our peril we forget the viciousness of the GOP attack machine. In 2008, a little known Barack Obama captured the imagination of the Democratic Party, which catapulted him far beyond Hillaryland and into the Oval Office. However, while President Obama went on to score a large number of legislative and executive victories, he never quite managed to find the political tenor to champion these wins. As a result, not only did many Democrats fall to their Republican opponents during the mid-terms at a time when the economy was looking up, but also a huge portion of this nation's population would be hard pressed to name one of those Obama success stories outside of the politically toxic Affordable Care Act. Democrats must soul-search and ask how did we go from a 2008 tsunami election that included the senate, the house, the Presidency, and Osama Bin Laden's head on a platter to being left with a tide pool? The answer is clear, the modern presidency is not just about governing and making the hard choices, as Hillary's current book title denotes, but it's about messaging and image. As Obama racked up victories, Republicans wasted no time ripping the professor-like president to shreds. Promising to change the tone in Washington, it took mere months into his presidency for the GOP to see Obama's kumbaya message as a sign of weakness to be countered with a karate chop of screaming Tea Party town halls where the media incessantly plugged irate partisans lashing out over death panels. It is a moment from which the Democrats never recovered. True, the President went on to win again in 2012, but Republicans were able to take Obama's greatest achievement and hang it like an albatross around his neck, eventually costing both houses of Congress.

What does all this have to do with Hillary, who was also water-boarded over healthcare in the early 1990's? Everything. Although the Clintons suffered numerous political attacks through the years ranging from murder investigations to impeachment, their war room came out swinging each time and effectively turned would be challengers into mincemeat. Does anyone to this day look favorably on Kenneth Starr, Linda Tripp, Charlie Hyde, or even remember Rick Lazio? The long list of causalities only testify to the resounding ability of Bill and Hillary to effectively arouse the sympathies of the American public each time the Republican establishment takes them on. True, Bill got his butt handed to him in the mid-terms just like Barack, but Clinton and his wife did something this President seems too humble to do, toot their own horns and thus remind voters of their accomplishments, which have left many wistfully looking in the rear view mirror for the past fifteen years. Bringing a seasoned Hillary Clinton and her team into the White House would put Republicans on notice that they had best put away their knives and work for the good of this country, or face a blistering public counterattack that the GOP knows it cannot win.

President Theodore Roosevelt famously said, "walk softly and carry a big stick." Democrats should heed his advice and waste no time in rallying behind the one big gun that Republicans fear can annihilate them at the ballot box in 2016 and effectively govern from the center to the benefit of the vast majority of voters, thus weakening their grip on power. The drumbeats from the far left will stoke a fear that Hillary Clinton is not liberal enough for our base. We must avoid this short-sighted view and hold on to the fact that a Clinton candidacy provides us not only an historic opportunity to elect the first woman President of the United States, but gives us the best shot of ensuring the executive office is filled with a member of the Democratic party.