The mulling is done. Jim Webb is out of the running for the presidency as a Democrat and positioned to run as an independent if he so chooses. He has jumped the Democrat ship, one I wished he’d stayed aboard if only to engage the debate about the party’s hard turn toward socialism. Once the media boomlet surrounding Webb’s defection has passed (wait for it…okay, now), it will be left to the Republicans, who are having their own issues controlling the helm of their party, to point out the fiscal, national security and social icebergs dead ahead should Dems prevail in 2016.
After all, Jim Webb was one of their own crew and his mixed but principled opposition to where the Democrats are headed would have made for interesting debate and, perhaps, even a fair hearing among the media. But the Republicans will get no such deference and, thanks to Webb, will be once again easily caricatured as the party of ’NO’ for wanting to take away all of the freebies the Dems are promising.
The truth is, both parties have an identity crisis, though Webb’s early departure signals the Democrats have pretty much decided on some form of Bernie-ism even That Great Centrist Hillary Clinton can’t avoid. The Republicans, though, still have the fall to sort out whether they prefer Boehner/McConnell business-as-usual over their rank-and-file’s desire for conservatism as promised. At least they will have a debate about it as evidenced by the large number of candidates still standing on both sides of that divide.
But Jim Webb, in leaving, gave the gift of silence to his former Party. Until the Republicans can resolve their own identity, the Dems will have clear sailing to their utopian Tomorrowland.
Clint Cline is the president of Design4, a national media and messaging firm based in Florida.