posted on January 07, 2014 12:32
Don’t underestimate a candidate who already won 12 million Americans’ votes on TV.
Clay Aiken may be a surprising candidate for Congress, but he may be just what Democrats need: a new face and fresh blood that energizes new voters, especially young voters.
The social-media response to his possible candidacy in the 2nd District was striking, so I asked three 20-somethings what that’s about.
One said: “He’s got charisma. He can raise money. And he can get people excited about the race here and around the country.”
Another mentioned Aiken’s work as chairman and co-founder of the National Inclusion Project for children with disabilities. President Bush appointed him to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. He’s a local boy who has done well and done good.
A third said Democrats need “nontraditional candidates with unique voices.”
Aiken is that. And apparently he can handle the rough-and-tumble. After he finished second on NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump called him “tough, smart and cunning.”
He’s got to stop this runner-up stuff, though. One wit said: “The good news is he’s leading other Democrats in the polls. The bad news is he’s behind Ruben Studdard.”
Yes, he’s gay. Get over it. Democrats aren’t going to win the Phil Robertson vote.
Speaking of Robertson, Aiken had thoughtful comments about that flap: "There are certain things in society that we have become universally against: racism, obviously, is wrong. The treatment of people with disabilities is wrong. But homophobia is one thing that we are still a little bit accepting of in certain areas….But times have changed enough and perceptions have changed enough in the time that I've even been in the public eye, that I think we've made a lot of progress."
Once again, the Democratic Party is having an old debate: Do we need more “moderate” candidates who look like me (old white guys), or do we look to a new generation?
In a recent article about Terry Sanford, Barry Yeoman asked Mac McCorkle at Duke’s Sanford School what Sanford would tell Democrats today. McCorkle said:
“It would be very clear to him: Go young, and go diverse. He would be counseling people: Step aside. Be the elder statesmen. But bring in the young. They’re going to make mistakes, but they’re the future.”
Count me in with Terry and the young.