Wednesday, March 26, 2008
There's an incredible, yet unexplained, phenomenon in politics that simply baffles me. It's neither based on history, fact, logic or rational thought. It's largely propped up by infatuation and, in some cases, hysteria. It's the notion that Sen. Barack Obama is "the great uniter," bringing together America. The great healer. The one with the message that's resonating among so many diverse voters. The candidate Americans are clamoring for in their collective quest for change. There's only one problem with this perception: it's patently untrue.
The euphoria among some Democrats over Obama's ability to connect is terribly misguided and based on pure myth. This irrational exuberance is part of what some consider the Democrats' "problem" right now as we head into the primary season's fourth month without a clear victor. While I'm sure this piece will not make me too popular with about half of the Democrats out there, the other half will like it just fine. And that's my whole point. Because the simple truth is, Obama, unlike Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dukakis, Carter and others before him, will not achieve the minimum number of delegates to win the nomination. He will be the first front-running Democratic candidate in modern history to go to the convention not having convinced enough voters to support him. Let's be real people, Obama has not united the party. Has not brought Democrats together. Just the opposite. Both he and Sen. Hillary Clinton have divided Democrats virtually straight down the middle. Obama's message has resonated with the rich, the educated, the progressives, blacks and white males. Hillary's connected with the traditional Democratic base: the poor, middle and working classes...as well as women, seniors and hispanics. And neither has been able to successfully penetrate the others' territory. Yet no one is really looking at the landscape from this perspective. So much Messianic-like praise is being lavished on Obama and, quite frankly, it's just plain undeserved.
While some Democrats believe we are in the most exciting presidential race in decades, others view it through the lens of misogyny, racism and Debbie Downer-like negativity. They say that this protracted battle between Clinton and Obama is ripping the party apart. I could not disagree more. Let's keep the proper perspective here. We are not in this battle because of Hillary Clinton's narcissism or her sense of entitlement, as some claim. We are in it because it ain't freakin' over yet. Because both Clinton and Obama have so far failed as candidates. Failed to reach the necessary majority unlike every Democratic nominee in decades before them. Failed to craft a universally-accepted platform. Failed to unite. Therefore, we're in this hotly contested race because Obama and Hillary each present a viable candidacy to only half the party. How then that Barack Obama has this JFK-like mythical aura surrounding him is truly puzzling.
There's also the belief among some that the Clinton/Obama slugfest is giving the GOP's John McCain the uncontested ability to campaign for the November election and gain ground with voters. If only this were true. If only Americans focused on the election eight months in advance. That's another fantasy. Want a dose of reality? Go into your workplace tomorrow and take an informal poll of 20 random people across socio-economic lines. Ask them what John McCain did last week. From some, you might get "John who?" And from the others, I think you'll be presently surprised.