Nostalgia is more of a primary phenomenon. Activists on both sides are always looking for what they remember were their party’s best days. That’s why at the ’92 Democratic convention, the “moment” Democrats remember best is the unveiling of the Clinton-JFK photo dug up by Mandy Grunwald and her team.Remember that bridge to the 21st century that Clinton was supposedly building? Which candidate today can most plausibly pose as the candidate of change and the future? I'd think that Obama is the one best positioned to do that, but he might not get the chance because primary voters don't trust his lack of experience and they are still filled with nostalgia for the glories of Bill Clinton's presidency. For example, my daughter at Georgetown reports that members of the school's Democratic Club are sporting T-shirts with slogan "Bill is my homeboy" and a picture of Bill Clinton. She wrote us,
But if you’ll recall, we didn’t see that Clinton-JFK image again on the general election campaign trail that fall. Why? General elections are rarely won by candidates asking voters to look back in time. Swing voters care about the future. It’s part of the reason why Kerry struggled against Bush because he was running on what happened, not what should be done. Gore had a similar struggle in 2000. He was running on the past, not the future.
Clinton might get the Democratic nomination asking Democrats to remember the good times, but that message is a recipe for defeat in a general.
Whenever I see them, I always wonder what exactly they're missing--welfare reform? NAFTA? Kosovo? Rwanda? Defense of Marriage Act? DMCA? Not to mention that the oldest of them was only 15 when he left office.And the younger ones were probably about 12 when he left office.
They just love that he was not Bush. From my experience with teenagers comments on the Clinton presidency, they also think it was rather cool that he was having an affair while he was in the White House. But is all that nostalgia, whatever it's based on enough to propel his wife into office and win older swing voters? Is she their version of Warren G. Harding's appeal to "return to normalcy"? Whatever that meant in 1920 or might mean now.