Of all the people who many speculated about being Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine is perhaps one of the worst picks she could have made. If we look at this pick as someone making a choice based upon a resume, then Kaine would check most boxes. He may appeal to a vast swath of Americans, he’s low key and not an attack dog, he has executive experience as Lt. Governor and Governor of Virginia, Washington DC experience as a Senator and was head of the DNC. He was pro-Hillary going back to her 2008 failed run and she was pro-Kaine in his Senatorial run. Bill and Hillary flew in for fundraisers and endorsements.
Perhaps in any other year, he may have made a great pick. BUT, this is not “just any other year.” Everyone in the media is quick to point out the contentiousness of GOP politics which were on display at times in Cleveland last week. But there is a rift in the Democratic Party that may not be as dramatic as that which exists in the GOP, but no less a reality. Face it: Bernie Sanders, Hillary’s closest competitor, stayed in the race much longer than Ted Cruz, Donald Trump’s nearest competitor.
Anyone with an ounce of gray matter between their ears should be painfully aware by now of the planned coronation of Hillary Clinton. The recent data dump of e-mails hacked by whoever of DNC communications proves that the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign worked to dispatch Bernie Sanders and saw him as a pain the proverbial butt.
In the lead-up to the announcement that Tim Kaine would be her running mate this year, numerous liberal/progressive groups were voicing their displeasure. Many suggested a Kaine selection would be the final straw. Some had their own agendas hoping the pick would be St. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, but that was never going to happen. This writer honestly believed she would have picked Julian Castro. To me, Kaine came as a surprise even though his name had been mentioned more frequently of late.
This year is unlike any other in politics. Molds are being broken left and right and political pundits are being proven wrong at every turn. When Donald Trump chose Mike Pence as his running mate, he chose a man with a proven conservative track record in Congress and as Governor of Indiana. I am not asserting that true conservatives should take heart in Trump over the choice, but objectively speaking it is a step in the right direction (Note: I still don’t trust Trump!).
For Trump to have even half a chance of winning, he has to overcome a lot of baggage from the campaign trail. He has alienated and insulted true conservatives along the way. Before one can reach out to independents in the general electorate, one needs to bring along the resistant people in one’s party’s electorate. Time will tell if the Pence selection did just that.
Conversely, in the Democratic Party one can compare the rabid Sanders supporters to the rabid Trump supporters in their zealotry. Just as Trump has to first win over at least some or a majority of Cruz or Rubio supporters, so too must Clinton win over the more numerous Sanders supporters in her party. Everything I have heard and have read indicate that the most staunch of Sanders supporters will NOT vote for Hillary Clinton. They may not vote for Trump either and may opt for the Green or Libertarian Party candidates. But the bottom line is their non-vote for Hillary. Democrats are quick to cite polls stating that up to 80% of Sanders supporters will vote for Hillary. We’ll see…
The selection of Mike Pence did more for Donald Trump within Republican Party circles than Tim Kaine will do for Hillary Clinton within Democratic Party circles. Her choice of a running mate illustrates what is at odds with the electorate these days: the rejection of insider politics, and nothing defines insider politics more than the history of Tim Kaine and the Clintons.
A perfect example involves the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement opposed by both Trump and various liberal/progressive and labor groups. Adam Green is the chairman of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an organization with close ties to Warren. He stated: “It will be very ironic if voters go into Election Day thinking Donald Trump is better on the TPP issues than the Democratic Party.” As Senator, Tim Kaine was influential in backing legislation regarding the TPP, a vote, letters and words he cannot now deny as some sudden epiphany on the issue.
Democracy for America, another progressive group, has been highly critical of Kaine for supporting a relaxation of consumer credit protections involving Frank-Dodd. Benjamin Jealous, former head of the NAACP, has said the selection signals Clinton running away from the more progressive nonsense she has spewed on the campaign trail (my words, not his but the sentiment is the same).
This is creating a strange dynamic in the general election where whether at the top of the ticket or the selection of a running mate, both sides are ignoring the standard of first securing the base of one’s party, and then going after the independent voters. In Trump’s case, he has alienated true conservatives himself. With Clinton, she has alienated the most liberal members of her party with her selection of Tim Kaine.
Unfortunately, voters don’t make their decisions based on Vice-Presidential picks. But this writer finds it strangely ironic, but also appropriate given the level of “bizarre” this campaign cycle, that both running mate selections make for a better choice for voters in November if they had been at the top of the ticket.