At first sight, Jim Webb doesn’t sound like the kind of candidate that could capture the Democratic nomination. He talks a lot about bringing disenfranchised poor whites from Appalachia into the Democratic Coalition, but for now the Democratic Party relies on a coalition of urban progressive whites and ethnic minorities. He was and still is in my opinion the biggest challenger of the status quo of American Politics, he is better than both Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders on foreign policy, but it should be said that he is a realist, not a non-interventionist, which could explain why he could sound a little hawkish with respect to Iran.
Webb was among the first to talk about criminal justice reform when he was in the Senate. There are reasons for that, most Democrats since McGovern until recently had been afraid to talk about the subject, since they were afraid to be portrayed as soft on crime, but someone like Webb who had an accomplished military record could take on these issues without being portraying as a hippie. But even with his background some advisors were afraid of Jim Webb pointing to issues like criminal justice reform in his campaign for the Senate back in 2006, now with the irruption of #BlackLivesMatter, things could be different
The problem of Jim Webb in today’s Democratic Party is not necessarily that the party has gone so far to the left. Obama opposed single-payer healthcare and supported trade deals like the TPP. The problem is that the left had become tribalist, the confrontation between Latinos and Afro-Americans over the California Democratic Senate nominee show us that very well. Jim Webb has strong record of talking about justice for minority communities, however I think he would be dismissed by #BlackLivesMatter for his cultural conservativism. This is a mistake. Both Jim Webb and conservatives like Rand Paul have been good on the issue of criminal justice reform, but liberals don’t like to give them credit.
People think that ethnic minority politicians should be the ones talking about these issues but the fact is that a lot of them have already endorsed the corporatist and militarist Hillary Clinton. I think that if Webb focused on those issues, minority Democrats and progressive whites could support him. I would never have imagine that a Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration could be better on those issues than a socialist like Bernie Sanders, but the fact is that political courage has characterized the political career of the former Senator. A soldier in his fight for justice started a crusade that for some had been seen as quixotic, now the entire country is talking about it.