The Democratic Primary is the Main Event
The Democratic Primary is the Main Event
The Democratic presidential primaries in the United States will soon be in the hands of the fabled ‘superdelegates.’ For them it will come down to one simple question: Who is more electable in November? Who can beat John McCain, the Republican nominee—Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? That’s a no-brainer; Obama would win, and Hillary cannot. Here’s why.
Counter-intuitively, the Democratic Primary is the main event. We’ll just be going through the motions in the general election. If the Clintons don’t steal the nomination, Obama will beat McCain. It will be close, but he’ll win. If they do, Hillary will lose. It will be close, but she’ll lose.
Professional pundits like The New York Time’s columnist Paul Krugman say disingenuous things like, “the attacks from the Clinton campaign have been badminton compared with the hardball Republicans will play this fall.” But after nearly eight years of the foreign and domestic disaster of Bush-Cheney, the Republicans are spent. It will take the Clintons, and their apologists like Krugman, to keep the White House in Republican hands.
The Clintons aren’t ‘toughening up’ Obama for the Republican attack dogs; they’re doing the Republican’s job for them by gnawing Obama to death in the primaries. Hillary Clinton is running like a Republican hack while touting progressive policies, whereas Barack Obama offers the genuine possibility of a new direction for the country. The problem, paradoxically, is that Obama still believes in the American people.
Obama thought that Americans were so hungry for change that he’d be able to coast to the nomination after his early wins in Iowa and South Carolina. But Barack must be bold, reaching for meaningful rhetoric of a new course for America and the world, not just the empty rhetoric of hope. We don’t just need the truncated promise of a John F. Kennedy; we need the flowering of a Robert F. Kennedy before he was cut down.
But before Obama can articulate a new direction for America and humankind, he has to acknowledge, in some way, the death of this nation’s soul, which is what permitted the malevolence of Bush-Cheney to manifest. For there cannot be a rebirth, or renaissance, until a death is acknowledged, and the corpse is buried or burned.
The corpse is the old, post World War II pre-Gulf War I America, and, through the Clinton conduits, it’s draining the life out of Obama and his campaign.
Politics and politicians are expressions of the zeitgeist, or underlying spiritual, philosophical, and social currents of a given time. Contrary to the naïve hope many political people hold, politicians, even if they rise to statesmanlike status, can actually change very little. An extraordinary person can articulate a new direction and nudge things toward it, the way John F. Kennedy tried, and Robert F. Kennedy would have if he had lived. But the limits of a leader’s ability to benefit a nation and the world are defined by the zeitgeist of his or her time and society.
There is another factor, which is being conveniently whitewashed (pardon the pun) in typical American fashion: racism. Having grown up in a state, Michigan, which borders Illinois and Indiana, I understand the kind of entrenched racism that Obama is up against. And much of Midwestern racism flows through the leaking sewer lines of the Catholic Church, with which I am also quite familiar, having been force-fed the hypocrisies of the Church through Catholic school and Latinate Mass six days a week.
Many Catholics, and especially working class Irish Catholics, have long-standing grudges against their treatment as immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rather than feel sympathy for the perennially lowest people on the totem pole—African Americans—Irish Catholics particularly have an old habit of fearing and feeling superior to them. Hence the prejudice.
The Clintons have succeeded in changing the media narrative to the ‘vetting’ of Obama, but it’s the Clintons, and the Clinton era, that cannot stand up to scrutiny. One of the issues that the Republicans could drag up is how the Clintons immorally turned their backs on the genocide in Rwanda, preventing the UN Security Council from taking action in a timely way.
All McCain has to do is outline a policy of vigorous engagement with the international community to prevent genocide and ethnic cleansing (despite Hillary’s imaginary heroics in Bosnia, they sat on their hands for years there as well). Then he will not only trump the Clintons, he’ll distance and distinguish himself from Bush.
Genuine discussions of character therefore matter (as opposed to the MSNBC character assassination of Obama in the last debate in Pennsylvania), because character is an indicator of how a person will respond to challenges and crises. But what can character possibly mean in soulless America?
What if the terrorist networks, that Bush-Cheney have managed to grow like a virus with their nationalistic and militaristic madness, are able to detonate a nuclear device in an American or ally city? McCain would likely strike back in kind. So would Hillary, since as she said, “I want the Iranians to know that if they foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, [when] I'm the president, we will attack Iran…we would be able to totally obliterate them."
Nostalgia for the nothing ‘90’s is not enough to put the Clintons back in the White House. When it comes to the general election, most Americans will decide by this simple rule: Who do I want to look at every evening on my TV for the next four years?
If it comes down to choice between hideous Hillary and mawkish McCain, Americans will choose McCain. But in the general election, Obama’s youth, intelligence, and charisma will prevail against McCain’s health problems, age, and obtuseness.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.