Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jim Webb withdraws from Democratic presidential race

Today Jim Webb, a former Senator and former Republican, announced that he was no longer campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination. Most attention on the Democratic nomination race has been focused on Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, and in comparison Mr. Webb has raised little fundraising money and stood low in the Democratic polls. During the Democratic debate last week, Mr. Webb spoke for only about 15 minutes of the 2 hour debate, and he complained that the debate was staged as a showdown between Clinton and Sanders (source). Although dropping out of the Democratic race, Mr. Webb has that he might still run as an independent candidate (source). You can watch a video clip of his press conference here.

Although it is relatively easy to be listed has an independent, also known as third party, candidate--file as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission--succeeding in an independent campaign is incredibly difficult. Most news sources tend to focus on the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties, and third party candidates tend to be obscured.

Does the media's focus on only a few candidates from each party detract from the democratic intent of the election process by obscuring other candidates? If so, is there any way for this to be fixed, or is the obscuring of certain candidates inevitable in an election? In this line of thought, does the increased difficulty of running an independent campaign also detract from the democratic intent of elections, or is it necessary to prevent just anyone from becoming President?

Photo: Jim Webb at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner. Scott Olson/Getty Images North America. photo source

1 comment:

Scott Chow said...

I believe that the motivation behind a lot of the lopsided debates between Clinton and Sanders has to do with the fact that the Democrats are trying to maintain Clinton's strength as a candidate. As such, the democratic party has scheduled less debates that the previous election cycle: 6 to the former 17( http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2015/10/create-more-debate/ ). Kranzler also goes on to criticize that decision because it further reduces voter engagement, citing that "the Republican debate schedule could 'easily reach 50 to 100 million more eyeballs than the current Democratic schedule.'" I feel that Kranzler's analysis could be extended to the consideration of candidates and nominees, and while weaker candidates will always be marginalized, that Jim Webb might not be a political casualty to dismiss so easily. The lopsided distribution of talking time during the debate seems to point to that issue exactly, and points to the hyper-polarized political climate of today. This hyper-polarized environment makes it much more difficult to run a third party campaign (not impossible: see Ross Perot), which does inhibit the overall democracy of the election by limiting the number of options that a voter can choose to best represent them, given that they know that an independent doesn't have a chance of making the presidency, which forces them into the red or blue camp.