Monday, March 24, 2008

Is This The Death Of The Democratic Party?

Here is a lengthy article from The New Republic.

It seems to driven from a genuine concern that the Democrats are in a position to destroy their own party (or at very least, lose the election), well before the convention rolls around. As the article reminds us, this is a repeat of what happened in 1980:

When Democrats contemplate the apocalypse these days, they have visions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton slugging it out à la Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter at the 1980 convention. The campaign's current trajectory is, in fact, alarmingly similar to the one that produced that disastrous affair. Back then, Carter had built up a delegate lead with early wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, and several Southern states. But, as the primary season dragged on, Kennedy began pocketing big states and gaining momentum. Once all the voting ended and Kennedy came up short, he eyed the New York convention as a kind of Hail Mary.

Any candidate trailing at the convention must employ divisive tactics, almost by definition. For example, much of the bitterness in 1980 arose from the floor votes Kennedy engineered to drive a wedge between Carter and his delegates. At one point, Kennedy forced a vote on whether each state's delegation should be split equally between men and women. Carter counted many feminists among his delegates, but the campaign initially opposed the measure so as to deny Kennedy a victory. "You had women who were with Jimmy Carter who were crying on the floor," recalls Joe Trippi, then a young Kennedy organizer.

Fast forward to today:

With little chance that either candidate this time around can clinch the nomination at the polls, it's not inconceivable that Democrats will re-enact this spectacle in Denver this August. (One direct link: Clinton operative Harold Ickes oversaw Kennedy's convention effort in 1980 and would likely oversee Hillary's.) The sequel could be even more damaging. It's true that the ideological gulf separating Kennedy and Carter doesn't divide Obama and Clinton. But, precisely because the substantive differences are so small, the temptation to court delegates along racial and gender lines would be even greater. And the sense of alienation among the losers would be overwhelming. Says former Al Gore campaign manager (and undecided superdelegate) Donna Brazile: "I don't have the 1980 experience, but that was two white men. This is a woman and a black. What's different about this fight is that, when they attack each other, supporters feel like they're attacking them personally." Remember the recent firestorm over Geraldine Ferraro's comment that, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position"? Well, imagine that flap playing out continuously over four days among hundreds of people with no other news to displace it, and you begin to see the problem.

Competing special interests are never a good thing, especially when the foundation of your party is built on them. Favor one, and you stand a good chance of alienating another. If you have any doubts on this, you might want to consider this poll.

The lengthy Democratic primary contest bodes well for Republican chances of holding the White House, a new poll suggests.

As Democratic Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York slug it out for the nomination, many of their supporters -- at least in Pennsylvania, site of the next major primary -- aren't committed to the party's ticket in November, according to a Franklin & Marshall College Poll.

Among Obama supporters, 20 percent said they would vote for Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, if Clinton beats their candidate for the nomination. Among Clinton supporters, 19 percent said they would support McCain in November if Obama is the Democratic nominee.

This poll took place in Pennsylvania, but still could be a valuable indicator nationwide. If this does happen, Obama supporters will say that Hillary destroyed the party for not bowing out and allowing a clear path for Obama to be the first black nominee. Equally, Hillary's supporters will say it was Obama that failed to understand she was entitled and was time for a woman to head the ticket. But in the end, it will be apparent that both were equally guilty. Both are power hungry politicians that know very little about the greater good, despite what they say in their speeches.

Blacks historically have shown they know how to stay home on Election Day, if they are disenchanted with their choices. Scorned women may have some stay home and some register a protest vote for McCain or an insignificant third party candidate that has no chance.

Either way it shows that at this juncture, the Democrats are in real trouble. Consider that in the end, it will be the super-delegates that decide the nomination. If Obama falters in the late stages due to Pastorgate and it is apparent that Hillary's numbers look better than Obama's when stacked against McCain's, they will have to make some hard choices if they want to win back the White House.

Personally, I think it's six one way, a half dozen another. Will they want to rest their cases on Obama despite his new negatives? (I don't care what image the MSM creates about Obama, he has some huge negatives among people that can think for themselves.) Or will they rest them on Hillary with the negatives she has been tagged with, for years?


A.C. McCloud said...

Or will they rest them on Gore as an alternative, with Obama as the VP? That seems to be the rumor du jour.

LASunsett said...

//Or will they rest them on Gore as an alternative, with Obama as the VP? That seems to be the rumor du jour.//

I read that report. But I have to ask myself, if either Obama and/or Clinton would willingly cede the top spot to someone that comes in late and proclaims himself the saviour of the party?

As I seriously consider this question, I cannot come up with any other answer than, no. Both are too driven by ambition and the hunger for power. And then, there's the question that radical blacks will ask, did whitey screw us again?