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Scott Galindez: Stay Positive, Let Voters Decide

Stay Positive and Let the Voters Decide

By Scott Galindez
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/021308A.shtml

Going into Tuesday's Chesapeake primaries, over 19 million voters voted in Democratic contests, while just over 12 million participated on the Republican side.

Democrats have a golden opportunity to capture the White House and increase their majorities in Congress. They have to be careful though; the closeness of the race for the nomination has created several minefields that need to be avoided.

Staying Positive

Democrats need to remember, either of the two remaining candidates left standing will be better than anyone the Republican Party is offering. The differences between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the issues are very small. Coming out of Nevada and South Carolina, it looked like the race was going to deteriorate into a nasty divisive campaign. Let us hope both campaigns got their frustrations out of their system and can rise above what John Edwards called "petty bickering."

During the heated exchange between Sens. Obama and Clinton in the South Carolina debate, both campaigns showed they were tough and ready to respond to Republican Swift-boating; so we don't need to see them go down that road again.

We also don't need to see either campaign play the race or gender card. Democrats in August will make history when they nominate either a woman or an African-American to be the party's nominee. The party can be proud of whoever ultimately wins the nomination. The competitive nature of the race seems to imply the day that a woman or an African-American can be a leading presidential contender is finally here.

The party should also avoid pitting Latinos against African-Americans. The Republicans divide the country with their politics of fear. Democrats need to avoid splitting the country along racial lines and, instead, work to unify a citizenry that has suffered more than seven years of alienating and factious leadership.

Florida and Michigan

Florida and Michigan have been stripped of their delegates to the national convention for breaking party rules by moving their primary dates up. However, the primary contests in these two states were held and delegates were selected. The state party wants their delegates counted and included in the national convention. The state parties argue that excluding their delegates would disenfranchise voters and hurt the Democratic prospects in the national election.

A solution needs to be worked out; the Democrats cannot shut out two such crucial states. There is plenty of blame to go around. National party leaders and the state party leaders in Florida and Michigan need to work out a compromise that helps the party win in November. A second round of primary contests should be organized. These contests would allow the candidates to compete on an even playing field.

All of the candidates signed a pledge to not campaign in Florida and Michigan, so the results from those states are skewed. Michigan especially should hold new caucuses. There is no way they can send a delegation based on a vote that did not include Senator Obama's name on the ballot. The Democratic National Convention is in August; that leaves six months to organize new contests in both states. Michigan and Florida wanted a voice in selecting the nominee. Well, this race is very close; they could have a major impact if they held legitimate primaries in June.

"Super Delegates"

If the "Super Delegates" decide the race and choose the candidate who lost the pledged delegate race and popular vote, they could destroy the momentum the party as a whole has demonstrated in this primary season. It does not matter who they block; a segment of the voting population would be lost. If young voters and African-Americans see the nomination taken away from Senator Obama in the back rooms at the convention, they will stay home in November. If women and Latinos see the nomination stolen away from Senator Clinton they may stay home in November.

There are roughly 450 super delegates still in play. If 300 of them band together and pledge to vote for the winner of the race for pledged delegates, or 400 total delegates make that pledge, a divisive convention can be avoided.

This campaign is about electing the president of the United States. The people are looking for a leader, not the person who is best at cutting down their opponent. Eight years ago, George Bush said he was a "uniter not a divider." The American people are still looking for that uniter. This is why Barack Obama and John McCain are leading the race. They both talk about crossing the aisle and working with the other party. If either Obama or Clinton starts to pit one group against the other, then they wouldn't deserve the nomination. A real leader brings people together to work toward a common goal. This country needs and deserves such a leader.

*************

Scott Galindez is Truthout's Washington, DC Bureau Chief.

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