The Democratic competition for the 2004 presidential nomination is looking more and more like “Survivor: D.C.” everyday.
The only problem is that no one is getting eliminated.
The players: a reverend (Al Sharpton), an ambassador (Carol Moseley Braun), a retired general (Wesley Clark), a governor (Howard Dean), four U.S. Senators (John Edwards, Bob Graham, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman) and two U.S. House members (Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich).
The only resource needed to win the game: money. Each candidate’s Web site features the campaign donations they received on the front page, instead of their stance on the issues.
The Democratic Party fought hard to keep campaign funding effective, and the only way they can do that is to streamline support behind one person.
Their mission: gather the support of the majority of Democrats, and in return, the party’s presidential nomination. But so far, every candidate is failing.
The party is being spread too thin.
Democrats need to portray a united front to restore credibility to the party and to get Bush out of office in a situation where Bush could win on name recognition alone.
The frontrunners are Dean, Kerry, Gephardt and Lieberman, who are all playing it relatively cool.
They want to boost the economy, make health care more accessible and end terrorism.
Meanwhile, none of them are making their connections and true ideologies known until one of them takes the prize.
So far, Dean has raised almost $15 million and appears to be ahead of the other frontrunners.
Clark is a newcomer to both politics and the Democratic Party. He’s the naive one that claims to just be in it for the adventure.
Clark is basically an elephant in a donkey’s clothing, and hopefully he won’t last very long.
Kerry is the most active of the candidates. In public appearances, he has been seen playing hockey, guitar and kite surfing, to show voters that he’s young and hip. Considering his competitors, this shouldn’t be difficult.
Then there’s Al Sharpton, the wildcard. He is the only candidate with the guts to speak his mind.
Sharpton is calling for three constitutional amendments, giving everyone a right to an education, an expanded suffrage and the right to government-financed health care. Where he stands on the rest of the issues, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Bush has said all the Democratic candidates are “weak.”
Let him believe that, because the less work he thinks he has to do to win, the better the chances of the Democratic candidate.
In order to avoid another 1984, when President Ronald Reagan buried challenger Walter Mondale, the Democrats need to trim the competition and put their support behind the one candidate who can win.
Marea Kasten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org