28 August 2008

More on the Convention

Last night I drove from Rochester to Boston for the convention. No, not the convention, the one everyone is talking about. Once again this Labor Day weekend I am attending the annual convention of the American Political Science Association. I did get the chance to listen to most of what the Democrats were up to in Denver, though. My basic assessment has not changed since yesterday.

That said, I think Hilary has done the right thing. Whether she is sincere or not really doesn't matter. This is politics. What matters at this point is that the Democrats get their shit together. Bill did his typically narcissistic thing, but he too seems to understand the task at hand. And I did like the analogy he drew between what the Republicans said about him when he first ran - "too young and inexperienced" - and what they are saying about Obama now. So far, so good.

What I do not get at all is the adolescent response of most of the Clinton supporters in the face of having lost an electoral process. Yes, Hilary would've been the first woman President. Yes, that is long over due. But three things are crucial.

First, democracy works better than all the other available options for organizing politics because it creates losers. It offers those folks the impetus to work harder, to look over the existing rules to see whether they are fair, to call their opponents on things like, in this instance, being sexist. and to then pursue their best option. If you discontented Clinton-ites think a McCain victory in two months is your best option in two months, knock yourself out. That will simply confirm my view - expressed here many times before - that Hilary is basically a moderate Republican. If you think the rules worked against her propose changes (remembering, of course, that her centrist cronies basically established in the rules in the first place.)

Second, comparative victim-o-logy is just not a useful exercise. This is an historic election even though Clinton lost the primary. It is crucial to recognize that fact without the immediate caveat "but Hilary lost and I'm unhappy!" In terms of sheer political symbolism it seems extremely difficult to me to adopt anything other than a celebratory stance about Obama's success. That said, African-Americans have been more loyal to the Democratic party and arguably less well served by it historically than any other component of its "base." A question: If Clinton had edged out Obama in the primaries, would his African-American supporters being threatening to stay home? Would they be threatening to work for McCain?

Finally, the Clinton supporters need to get a grip. Hilary has never been a feminist. (If that involves a modicum of solidarity and an abiding concern for women's issues.) Nor is she terribly liberal. She has been a political opportunist. Her votes on the war and foreign policy are evidence enough of that. And I speak as the father of a 19 year old son. So when you look at Hilary and see a symbol of women's success, you are making a bit of a stretch. She is not Margaret Thatcher, but she is no better than a centrist Republican.

Here are two opinion pieces I've read recently about the Democrats current predicaments. The first addresses the Clinon-ites and I agree with virtually everything in it. The second one addresses the Democrat's unspoken problem: How to persuade Older white Americans to vote for a Black man.

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Blogger Public Squalor said...

Yea the only thing more unsettling than Obamamania is the die-hard Clinton supporters. Holy crap it's not like there are any substantive differences in their policy positions (most of which hit the circular file once they're elected.)


29 August, 2008 12:35  
Blogger Dawei_in_Beijing said...

At the beginning of this election, I thought the democrats have the presidency on lock. The more this ugly circus progresses, though, the stronger McCain's campaign becomes. His VP pick is really stirring things up like mad.

I think the Democrats dropped the ball with the convention. They were too cerebral, too grand, and too intellectual. The Republicans are going to go straight for the gut, with tear-jerking stories of heroics, patriotism, and honor. I suspect social issues will be big, as well; they need to fire up their sluggish base.

I really hope Americans do the right thing this time. I won't believe it until I see it, though.

30 August, 2008 16:20  

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