I’m not one of those who are clamoring to get Sen. Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. She has paid the cost to be heard, as long as she can be heard. She is a strong candidate, and, the race is still too cl
She feels empowered after winning in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. But if she doesn’t drop out, and if the race runs all the way to the convention in Denver, it could mean that rather than the voters having their say, it could come down to super delegates and party leaders having their say.
If those party leaders in those smoke-filled back rooms look at Sen. Barack Obama and Clinton and decide (against the will of the voters) that Clinton, because of her “electability,” is the best nominee, it could mark the end of the Democratic Party.
That’s because electability is now being chalked up to not being able to gain a majority of white, male votes. Pundits and super delegates are asking, “Why can’t Obama get white votes?” The better question is, “Why won’t white voters vote for Obama?” The answer to that question has nothing to do with Obama’s outreach efforts.
He started out this election process with quite a few folks who should know better, asking if he was Black enough. Now, it seems, that for a growing percentage of white voters, he is too Black. In reality, he was always too Black, because he was Black at all. Republicans are not so quietly predicting that an Obama candidacy is worth 15 percentage points in the general election, because at least that much of the electorate will never vote for a Black man.
They are not talking about his stands on the issues. They are talking about racism. The North Carolina Republican Party is airing an ad that says Obama is “too extreme” for that state, and they show scenes of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. That is guilt by association, and basically says any Black pastor is “too extreme.” Obama wasn’t too extreme for voters in 28 states, where he won the Democratic vote.
He isn’t too extreme for those nearly 1,500 delegates, over 150 more than Clinton has won. But this is bigger than Obama, and instead is about the future of the Democratic Party. Obama has won more than 80 percent of the Black vote in just about every primary state (not bad in an election against the Clintons, who started out this election cycle with almost mythic good will from the Black community).
Those voters have followed all the rules, voted in good conscience, and have had their hopes raised. The party should not tell those new voters, who hurried to register because they finally felt that someone was listening to them, that instead, their votes meant nothing For the Democratic Party to do that would mean that it no longer exists as a party, and would mean that Black voters, and those new voters, should find a new party.
If Obama loses, millions of voters will be disenfranchised. Worse, hope will suffer a setback, and the Democratic Party will forfeit any ownership to the notion of “change.” It is not the continuing primary fight, nor the meanness of the election that is of concern.
Instead, it is the end result, the final chapter of the process. If they change the rules, and discount those primary wins, those delegates won, and the plurality of votes, then what should those voters do? Should they suck it up and, like good Democrats, throw their support behind Clinton? Probably not, because the theft would be so un-Democratic.
Do they leave the party? Only if they have somewhere to go, and the Republican Party’s vaunted Big Tent has been dismantled for the last eight years. If the Democrats are willing to throw Black voters and new voters, and young voters, and newly inspired voters, and educated voters, and Internet-savvy voters under the bus … then perhaps those voters will have to find a new vehicle to carry their electoral hopes and dreams.
Denver could mark the end of the Democratic Party, and if the party of Roosevelt and Kennedy and Clinton suborns racism, it will be just what they deserve.
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