Electability: The Lamest Argument in the Rhetorical Aresenal

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


There is a new USA Today/Gallup poll out that says Barack Obama does better against the Republican candidates than Hillary Clinton, a fact that the Obama camp will no doubt point to when undercutting Clinton’s oft-made electability argument. The Edwards folks like to highlight this CNN poll that shows he is the only Democrat who slays all five heads of the Giuliani-Romney-Huckabee-McCain-Thompson medusa.

My take: who cares?

The electability argument is a pander to the basest desire in the political heart: the desire to win. Every campaign makes the argument, ignoring the fact that just because a candidate can get elected, or just because a majority of Americans think a candidate can get elected, doesn’t mean that candidate should be elected. As George W. Bush has proved twice, the skills and characteristics needed to get elected are not the same as the ones needed to govern well.

Obama, Clinton, and Edwards aren’t going to stop claiming they can win because electability, though a specious argument, matters to people. Voters don’t like backing a loser. But if a potential loser would be the best president, he or she deserves support, plain and simple.

That’s my overly idealistic blog post for the day. Back to your regularly scheduled snark and cynicism.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate