Poor Martin O’Malley. He was all but ignored in Sunday evening’s Democratic presidential primary debate, with the moderators addressing question after question to the red-hot front-runners, Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The Maryland governor was pretty much left saying “But what about me?” while no doubt many viewers asked, “Who is that guy?” Indeed, he would have been relegated to the second-tier debate for low-polling candidates, as in the Republican contest, except he would have nobody to debate (although, as I was reminded by an article in today’s L.A Times, there are many Democratic and Republican presidential candidates we don’t hear about).
This really is too bad – not only for O’Malley but also for the rest of us Democrats left with a shaky slate just over a week before the primary races begin.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for Sanders. I love his vow to fight the big-money powers that be and for truly universal healthcare and college. I am all for his socialistic ideals, standing up for the rest of us. I feel the Bern.
But can this self-avowed Socialist win in November? Really? When I went to a political forum a few years ago in Claremont, a well-respected scholar in this relatively progressive community was loudly booed when he tried to say that Socialism was perhaps worth pursuing.
Maybe things have changed since then, but I’m not seeing it. Sanders talks about revolution, and it would really take a revolution for him to win the presidency. I’m sorry to say that those of us who do these sorts of revolutions don’t have a good track record. Look at Occupy Wall Street. Occupy what? you ask. Exactly.
November isn’t that far off. And I don’t see a lot of college students, other than the usual scrubbed-face die-hards with their researched noon speeches, getting fired up over an old man, even a fiery, radical one, like they did over voting for the first black president. I would love to be proven wrong on this. Another thing – and this is a big thing these days – is that Sanders looks like a deer in the headlights when the topic is foreign policy. (Yes, Donald Trump doesn’t know much about foreign policy, but he certainly doesn’t look like a deer in the headlights when spouting off about it – not that this is a good thing, but it certainly has been effective.)
And then there’s Hilary. She may be so hot that we’re on a first-name basis with her, but I’m concerned about us getting dragged down by all her baggage, at least until November, if not afterwards. I’m not just talking about the e-mails, whether she can be trusted, Bill’s womanizing, the dynasty factor, blah, blah, blah. Wasn’t Hilary so exhausted after her time as Secretary as State that she hid out for months, not sure at all about returning to public service? Will she be up for another four or eight years most likely to be even more grueling, all the more so in these bitterly partisian times? What about Bill, with his well-known heart problems? What if he has a heart attack and dies while Hilary is in office? It will already be tricky having (former president) Bill Clinton as our first First Gentleman.
Maybe this is just so much late-night obsessing – again, I’d love to be proven wrong. O’Malley may or may not be the ideal candidate. I’m just saying it’s too bad he was never given a chance and we now don’t get much of a choice. We need all the choices, viable choices, we can get, especially when the opposition is so passionate and behaving in such an extremist and volatile way.