Mooncat asked me to post something about the current state of the Presidential race, and I warned her that I'd probably irritate both Obama and Clinton supporters…. But here goes!
By almost any measure, the nomination has been decided and it's Obama in a photo finish with Hillary (I use her first name, not disrespectfully, but because that's what's on her signs. I know; I brought one home from Iowa with me).
If you watch the talking heads on TV or read corporate media publications or even visit DailyKos, you'd think there was this huge divide in the party that could cost us the general election.
I don't believe it. Controversy gets viewers and readers. The gasbags have had a 6-month party with the Democratic primary season. And they haven't been focused on issues. Instead, we've had a breathless marathon of minutiae: Did she say something racist? What did he know about his minister and when? Why is she still in the race? Where's that $%^% flag pin?
Are we divided? I think not!
Full disclosure here…. I was an early Edwards supporter, sent him far more than I could afford and spent even more on a week in Iowa before the caucuses. It was heartbreaking when he dropped out, and I didn't pick a second choice – for two reasons.
First, because I thought John was far and away the best choice; he spoke best to my issues; I wanted Elizabeth as first lady; and well… he's hot. 😉
Also because I seem to be the kiss of death on almost any candidate. Get a contribution from me, and you're out of the race next week. I briefly considered sending money to McSame and using my dark powers for good.
But I digress… we're talking about party unity here, and I'm offering my Five
Commandments Suggestions for Democrats:
- Be nice. We're all friends with more in common than not. Forget the overheated rhetoric from the primary and the statements from Clinton supporters who say they may vote for McSame. Give them some space; they're in a grieving process that I know all too well. It will pass. Yes, Hillary's speech Tuesday night wasn't an effusive endorsement of Obama, but give her some time too. It's hard to let go, even when the writing is clearly on the wall.
- Forget the “he said/she said/her husband said” moments in the primary. It's the freaking primary! Candidates say things about each other, run hard, then join hands and confront the Republicans. Maybe one candidate said something that offended you. Maybe a friend or family member said something that offended you, had bad timing or phrased something badly. Let it go.
We have Republicans to beat; there's not time to hold grudges against each other.
For instance, the day Edwards pulled out, I had a call from a local Clinton supporter asking if I was interested in coming to a Clinton fundraiser that weekend after all. Talk about terrible timing! Holy Cow! Then, I had several committed Obama people chew on me that if I really supported what Edwards stood for, I had “no choice” but to switch to Obama. Hello? I thought I got to pick who I supported!
- Put a Democratic sticker on your car and a smile on your face! We have a nominee. He's not my first choice; he may not be yours either, but a whole lot of people picked him from a terrific field. Remember: any of the Democrats running this year (sans Gravel, maybe) was head and shoulders above any of the Republicans. I said this time last year that I'd be proud to vote for any one of them and I still feel that way.
Look at the quality of the candidates we put forward!
What a deep bench for a Democratic president to draw from for cabinet posts, SCOTUS, Congressional leadership, etc. Democrats rocked this year!
- Talk up party unity! The media wants us to be divided! They want Clinton supporters to grumble and Obama supporters to gloat. It's good ratings and easier than covering the issues and comparing/contrasting the Democratic and Republican candidates. Why delve deep into the budget when you can speculate on how a candidate laughs or does/does not wear a flag pin?
Yes, some high ranking Hillary supporters are making intemperate statements (in my opinion) and it's her job to slap them down.
But that's happening at a level far above us here in Alabama and I refuse to be dragged into it. When people ask me what I think about the race (and a lot of people do – like I'm an authority on anything), I tell them we're going to win. We have the issues, we have great candidates, we have the energy, and our children are depending on us not to screw this up.
- Remember that our goal is the White House and veto-proof majorities in the Senate and House. We can do it. We can have comprehensive health care reform. We can stop our government from torturing people (can you believe we're even talking about that?). We can work for peace in the Middle East. We can address climate change in a meaningful way and work towards energy independence. We can stop the war in Iraq.
This can happen if we stick together and remember our goal: victory over the Republicans.
It's not going to be a cakewalk. I've had disturbing conversations in person and online with Obama supporters who are new to the political process. They seriously underestimated the challenge before us and confidently predicted “a landslide.” When I tried to explain that I didn't think it wasn't going to be that easy, they got offended, nasty even. If I didn't slavishly praise Obama, I must be for Hillary but wouldn't admit it. Sigh… I used to be young and knew everything….
Ok. I never thought Hillary should bow out before the nomination was decided. She made Obama a better candidate. His debate performances got better; his speeches were more substance and less hope, and he's weathered controversies in the spring that might have killed his candidacy in October. Hillary played rough, but so do Republicans and anybody who thinks she threw anything at him that the GOP wouldn't think of is living in fairyland.
I think Obama has the potential to be a transformative figure in American politics and the world. But when he got into the race, he wasn't as good a candidate as he is now.
With this extended primary season, the Democrats have had exposure in states that NEVER used to see Democratic candidates or campaigning. Puerto Rico? Idaho? Wyoming? Think about it. The Democratic “brand” is so hot that it's on fire! People have seen our candidates, been exposed to Democratic issues, and they're responding.
What if the nomination had been “sewn up” on Super Tuesday? Yawn…. Obama wouldn't be getting regular coverage for his speeches on the news networks. He'd be lucky to get 30 seconds at the top of the hour. “And in other news, Obama wears flag pin to rally but doesn't cry during national anthem.”
Look at how much coverage McSame got compared to the Democrats over the last 2 months. Now, they're turning back to look him over, and it won't be pretty. Our job is to try to force the discussion of issues. Where do the candidates stand on issues and why? What are the specifics of their programs?
Let's join together to force the end of celebrity political journalism and focus on issues. We're picking a President of the United States. It doesn't matter who we started out supporting; it's who we turn out for in the fall.
The world is watching us and our children are depending on us. It's too important to let hurt feelings interfere with the job we have ahead of us.
I don't think that any progressive who regularly contributes to this blog or any of our local Democrats would abandon the party. They won't stay home. They won't vote for McSame. There's too much as stake and they care too much about the future of the country.
That's why we all got involved in the first place. Because we care enough to expend our time, money, and emotional energy into the political process.
That willingness brings us together much more than it pulls us apart.