Given the flat-out absurdity of 2017, I’ve decided to start a new recurring item here at Rational Policy: the Bad Idea of the Month. Although it is only halfway through January, I firmly believe I’ve found the worst idea of the month already, and it’s a doozy. Chelsea (formerly known as Bradley) Manning, the convicted traitor who illegally stole hundreds of thousands of classified files and diplomatic cables from the US government and military and leaked them indiscriminately to WikiLeaks, has decided to challenge incumbent Maryland Senator Ben Cardin for the Democratic nomination for that seat later this year.
Since President Obama commuted Ms. Manning’s sentence from the 35 years she initially received to the 7 years she ended up serving in prison, Manning has become somewhat of a darling of the far-left, being very active on Twitter in criticizing the Trump administration as well as Democratic politicians who are seen as being open to working with the President on some important items for the nation as a whole. Her status as a transgender woman has definitely made her a more sympathetic figure among this constituency, as many of these supporters find the politics of intersectionality to be of extreme importance. These supporters, however, are not a large constituency nationally, and are in even shorter supply in Maryland, a fairly conservative ‘blue state’ which hosts the NSA, as well as many other governmental organizations and their employees.
Not only are Manning’s support structures less likely to be strong in Maryland, Senator Cardin is a two-term incumbent who is seen as a solid establishment figure who is keen to work across the aisle when possible, is intelligent and hard-working, and is the ranking Democrat on the incredibly important Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a spot that Maryland voters likely will not want to see ceded away from the state’s Senator. The last time Senator Cardin was up for re-election was in 2012, and he won handily in both the Democratic primary and the general election; Cardin received nearly 75% of the vote in the primary and over 55% of the vote in the general election. Even with significant support from the far-left of the Democratic party, Manning would likely fare no better than Cardin’s prior primary foes, and would bring a large shadow over Democratic candidates across the country, as associating with a convicted traitor isn’t exactly the best thing in the world.
Overall, Manning’s run for Senate isn’t only stupid, it’s futile. She has almost zero chance of winning the primary, and would definitely lose in the general election, as Maryland is too conservative a state to elect a convicted felon who deliberately betrayed her country. Manning cannot even legitimately claim whistleblower status in the same manner as Daniel Ellsburg of Pentagon Papers fame or Edward Snowden, as those men actually released files that were scrubbed of information that could severely harm national security, and also worked with more legitimate organizations than WikiLeaks, widely seen as a front for the Russian government. Ms. Manning should reconsider her bid, drop out while she still has the chance, and drop off the grid while people still have a chance to forget her. Remaining in the public spotlight only serves to call her crimes back up into the public mind, which does not reflect well on her. I can only hope that the worst idea of January 2018 is over by the end of spring 2018, and Senator Cardin can contest his general election in peace.