“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.'” (1 Samuel 17:8)
“By God’s will they defeated them, and David slew Goliath. And God gave him power and wisdom, and taught him whatever he wished. And if God did not check one set of people by way of another, the earth would indeed be full of chaos. But God is full of bounty to all the systems of knowledge.” (Quran 2:251)
Below is an excerpt from The Future of Freedom, the 2004 book by Fareed Zakaria. I think it helps explain why it was possible for Barack Obama to win in 2008 and why Rajiv Shah can win (assuming he runs) in 2016.
(All comments in parenthesis are mine).
In December 2000, a few days after the Florida recount battles had ended, I asked George Stephanopoulos, the broadcast journalist and former political strategist, whether he thought the Democratic Party would nominate former vice president Al Gore to run for president in 2004. The newspapers that week had been full of speculation that leading figures in the party wanted to dump Gore. Stephanopoulos’s answer was clarifying. There is no Democratic Party, he said. “If Gore wants to run he has to raise the money, get good publicity, and move up in the polls, which will get him more money and better press. What party elders think is irrelevant because there is no party anymore. Those who style themselves as elders are just old paws looking for something to do.
Political parties have no real significance in America today. Over the last generation the parties have become so open and decentralized that nobody controls them. The machines and their bosses, the party organization, the volunteer cadres, the party elders have all withered in insignificance. The party is at most a fund-raising vehicle for a telegenic candidate. If a candidate is popular and wins the nomination, the party become supportive. That candidate then benefits slightly by getting more resources, organizational support, and new lists of potential donors.
In fact primary candidates find it useful to run against the party establishment. It gives their campaigns freshness. And the appeal of the underdog battling the machine (this is the most obvious David and Goliath connection). An approach that worked for George McGovern, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Today however, this strategy is more difficult because there is no longer an establishment to run against. Who was the Democratic establishment’s candidate in 1992; Bill Clinton, Bob Kerry or Paul Tsongas? None of the above.
note: the exception that prove this rule is Sen. Robert Dole who was granted the Republican nomination in 1996 almost as a gift for his years of service to the party.
The success of George W. Bush was due not to his being the candidate of the establishment but to his being the candidate of his family. He had the two things you need in a party-less system, name recognition and fundraising machine. Anyone who has both whether they have any experience in politics or not is now at huge advantage. (This is of course what makes Hillary a Goliath). Thus in this new more democratic system we have seen many more political dynasties, celebrity officials and billionaire politicians than before. And this is only beginning (I realize that this excerpt alone can make the case for either Hillary Clinton or Rajiv Shah, but along with the David and Goliath verses, I think it makes the case for Rajiv Shah).
Because this book was published in 2004, I am curious how Stephanopoulos and Zakaria might amend any of their comments. On his show CNN show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, I am sure the issue will arise once or twice.
Continue reading Why Goliath and Hillary Clinton matter, but less than we may think (Quran 2:251, 1 Samuel 17:8-9)