Thursday, March 06, 2008

Please, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

I’m delighted that Hillary Clinton won the Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island primaries this week, and the best-possible outcome (in my view) would be that Hillary win the nomination – fair, square and without a hint of back-room maneuvering. But Barack Obama has hardly become the loser in this ongoing fight. And now that they’re on an equal footing in the race, they each have the ability and the opportunity to make this a process to be proud of – or to go old-school political and connive their way to the nomination. Handled poorly (which is to say, backhanded), winning could result in great losses for America at a critical time.

America deserves better than Dubya Redux with a Presidential win by John McCain, who, although smarter and I think a far more decent man than the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is not what this country needs going forward. We need someone who will end the war in Iraq, not justify it; someone who will craft universal health care, not get around it; heal the sickly economy, not just preserve the current safe-haven for the few; find solutions for the mortgage and bankruptcy crises, not let them run their free-market course to total disaster; protect a woman’s right to choose and repair the corrupted separation of Church and State, rather than further this insult to democracy. In short, we need what used to be called A Democrat, before Democrat came to mean “he who sits impotently by while the Republicans run the country into the ground.”

Our election process is already compromised by bad voting equipment and everything from incompetence to outright fraud. Add to that the troubling inequities wrought by the continuation of the Electoral College, and, the completely undemocratic power of the so-called super-delegates, and it’s not hard to understand why so many people have stopped participating in this vital activity of citizenship. But now we have two promising candidates – candidates who’ve promised that this is a whole new ballgame: open, honest, in The People’s Best Interest. Yet we can’t expect Presidential behavior that rises above the fray of self-service if our prospective candidates resort to Any Means Necessary to secure the nomination.

I’m frankly less concerned right now about whether it’s Clinton or Obama who wins the day than I am that their infighting will get so hot and so low that Denver 2008 will make Chicago 1968 look like a summer picnic – and give McCain a virtually unfettered path to the White House. Please, Hillary and Barack, remember that this election is bigger than either of you and you both owe us the united party you promised us. Anything less and we all lose.

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