Let me start with this: I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. Her husband does look a little better in retrospect and by comparison to his successor, but I never really liked him all that much. His “triangulation” seemed to look more to personal than national success. And I see much the same in his wife.
On the other hand, Barack Obama exudes an aura of inclusion, that he’s for all of us, not simply looking to his own advancement. But he’s still a politician, however, and winning will always be his goal.
That said, I will be supporting whichever of them earns the Democratic Party’s nomination—as long as they both keep in mind that it matters more that a Democrat get elected in November than which Democrat. As long as they don’t participate in what Frank Rich today (echoing Roger Wilkins) says may be “a flashback to the Democratic civil war of 1968.”
We saw enough of that nonsense in South Carolina.
It’s up to us grassroots members of the party to make sure this civil war doesn’t happen. The politicians—even Obama—will fall into it, if they think it can bring them immediate victory. If, on the other hand, negative campaigning in the primaries backfires, as it has been doing, it will stop happening. There will be no point in continuing to drive stakes between constituencies if doing so reduces popularity, as it should. Rich writes:
Last month a Hispanic pollster employed by the Clinton campaign pitted the two groups [African-Americans and Hispanics] against each other by telling The New Yorker that Hispanic voters have “not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.”
It should be made clear to the Clinton campaign that such deliberate attempts to divide are unacceptable. If Obama’s people do anything similar, they should hear the same message. On NPR this morning, Liane Hansen tried to push questions of a racial divide, trying to make this an issue. Obama demurred… and we Democrats should make sure he continues to, and should make interviewers like Hansen realize that we see this as a trumped-up issue and not what should be the core of questioning.
Today, we have two candidates most all Democrats are willing to accept. That puts us in the best position, as a party, we’ve been in for years. Most of us in the grassroots are, right now, more interested in victory than in which Democratic candidate is smiling on election day in November. To ensure that, we are going to have to lead our leaders, to push them away from their natural focus on their own focus to understanding that it is the victory of the party that needs to be foremost for all of us.
Yes, I am not the first to say this, but it is going to take a constant drumbeat from the grassroots to keep the candidates in line. Frank Rich, who seems to believe there will be a Democratic civil war (and all of the Republicans who gleefully anticipate it), do not have to be right. Not if we, the people, insist that no such war take place.
We have the power to direct this campaign, and the obligation to use it.