I’m starting to become a little unnerved by the situation with the Democratic party. I’d like to lay out a couple of questions and arguments for discussion. I’m hoping very much that certain people will chime in on this. You know who you are (like, when you get my email asking you to chime in).
From the beginning, this primary involved gender and race. Obviously. A democrat could actually win this year. So, the giddiness over having a viable female candidate and giddiness over having a viable African American candidate is palpable. But we can see that this giddiness has given way to a very different set of feelings … depending on one’s perspective …. based on the same exact conditions.
Let me tell you that I was originally behind Clinton. I switched half-heartedly to Obama when it came time to vote (caucus) in Minnesota, because I judged (correctly, it turned out, for once) that there was a momentum thing happening that could be good for The Party, and that would, as it happened, push Obama into the national race, hitting the ground running. As it turned out, that did happen, but Clinton stayed strong and did not fade away or step aside.
At some point in time, several weeks back, it became numerically Obama’s race, barring highly unlikely events. But Clinton stayed in. I and many other Obama supporters saw this as reasonable. Hillary’s positions could continue to be represented, she was still a player, and even though she could not be the nominee, it was reasonable for her to stick it out a bit longer.
I remember Kennedy’s race against Carter in which he did the same thing. In fact, I worked for Ted Kennedy’s campaign, much to the annoyance of my father, who was being offered a position in the Carter White House. You will remember what happened at the end: The Dream Endures. And the Dream will Endure this year as well, I’m sure.
The unsettling part of this is really two fold. First was the appearance and steady increase of racist rhetoric coming from Hillary Clinton and some of her supporters. Now, this rhetoric could be defended as simple reality, but that argument is one I would expect to hear from a Republican, or a Conservative Libertarian, or maybe even a Homeschooler. There is a proper, or at least a better, way to recognize the racist undercurrent. We recognize it when we have it circumscribed and are busy criticizing it or even impaling it on a stake. We don’t, however, recognize it as “just part of the way things are.” That simply allows race to feel comfortable and normal. It invites race to the table. We don’t want race at the table.
Following the race card being played by the Clinton campaign, we then saw a sexism (or anti-feminist) card also being played by Clinton spokespeople. And, more disturbingly, I have also seen implications that asking Clinton to leave the race now (or a couple weeks ago, say) is just another example of pushing a woman aside, like we have always pushed women aside. I see and hear these implications from political commenters (of course) and from people I happen to know and care for, and most recently, from a Republican senator, jumping on the bandwagon, who threw in, “Obama’s campaign people are well known for referring to the women in the press corps as ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’….” (Smirk smirk.)
The reason that this is disturbing is partly because there is truth here. Previously, women on the presidential (or vice presidential) trail have gotten a kind of special treatment which was not good and always resulted in their being brushed aside. So that is a reasonable concern. And there probably are people brushing Clinton aside because she is a woman.
The problem is that there is a large percentage of people like me. People who wanted Clinton, who thought Clinton would have the best chance of winning and would make a great president. People who thought this when her husband was President. People who did not thing those anti-Hillary jokes were funny. Well, maybe they were technically funny, but we found it hard to laugh at them.
But we then saw a change in orientation among the electorate that was new, unexpected, and good (as good as a swell of support for Clinton, just in a different way). And then, a few weeks back, seeing Clinton scoring points in her campaign that were harmful to the party’s medium term goal (of not fucking up again and putting a Republican in the White House). And then, on top of that, seeing these tactics go racial.
We (or at least I) are/am not interested in pushing Hillary Clinton aside. We just don’t want the Democratic Party to fuck up. Again. As usual.
If many of the undeclared super delegates declared for Clinton, and a couple of hundred super delegates previously pledging to Obama switched to Clinton tomorrow, Obama conceded, and, maybe, Clinton asked Obama to run as Veep, I’d be happy. So would a lot of other people. If, instead, Clinton announced next Monday that she was pulling out, and Obama asked her to be on the ticket and she agreed, I’d be happy . So would a lot of other people.
Concerns that the ticket would be mismatched or not credible because of what was said during the campaign would go away just as such concerns have always gone away every other time something like this has happened, which is roughly every four years.
I do believe that something like this is going to happen very soon, by the way. Frankly, I’m thinking the latter. I am certain Obama will ask a woman to be on the ticket, most likely Clinton. And Clinton will accept. If not, Kathleen Sebelius.
One more thing: Despite whatever I have said above regarding the issue of race and racism, there is one thing that needs to be made very clear. It is not the case that working class white people don’t like the idea of voting for a black man for president. No. What is the case is that working class white people in Appalachia are by and large racists slobs. Other working class white people, not so much. Or at least, not in this way. The messing around with the demographics (of race, mainly) by the politicians and their handlers pales in comparison to this sad and shameful reality. Which I am exaggerating only a tiny bit.
OK, so I said I was going to ask questions. Instead, I just said what I thought. So, tell me where I’m wrong?