Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hung From Their Own Rope

If the Right is apathetic, the Left is apoplectic. I've been ruminating on the implications for the country whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton get the nomination.

To me, Hillary Clinton is the harder candidate to beat in the general election. She is perceived as more centrist and has done a pretty good job casting herself as the working man's candidate. She is tough, competitive and hangs in there. This tenacity has impressed many people. Aside from her weeping episodes which came off as manipulative, she has been doggedly determined and come across as tough. She craves power and it's both terrifying and respect-inducing to behold.

The calls for Hillary to bow out when she is hanging so tough enrages feminists and the women who support her. It's the same old, same old from the patriarchy: take a back seat to a lesser man. Concede. Submit. Stand down to elevate him. Hillary has, of course, done this. She supported Bill for years, even through his infidelity and immaturity, in order to have the power. But she knows, as does everyone else, that is was his power. Now, it is her turn. This message resonates deeply with women. The feminists waited for this moment. It's the culmination of a lifetime of hopes and dreams and Hillary symbolizes the American Woman. Not getting the nomination is like orgasm-less sex. Women don't want to be left hanging. Again.

I think the Left, the Super-delegates, even average middle-American voters fear that Obama's newness, his lack of experience, his liberalness, his softness won't play in the general election. But everyone is stuck. If women have suffered lo, these many years in America, only blacks can claim more victimhood. Underneath the Obama candidacy is a threat and silent menace: nominate him, or else. Or else what? Will there be riots in the cities should Obama not get the nomination? Will delegates' lives be threatened? That's what some fear. And so, the renewed pleas for Hillary to "do the right thing" and quit.

The nomination of Barack Obama means "healing", "hope" and "change". What it means is that America, can, once and for all, put the taint of slavery behind them. The tide has turned and America, finally, in Michelle Obama's 44th year, is a place where even black citizens can be proud. As much as blacks want this, whites want this more. Many whites tire of the collective guilt and want to be shed of it. A black president would heal the country and change the future.

How will Obama's followers, including the 90% black voters, feel should they be denied? This moment seems historic and profound and necessary. The emotionalism, the attachment is as real as group adoration ever can be. Obama taps into a well of desire and fear that is almost irresistible. Life without him will be desolate, life will him will be infused with purpose and light.

For the Democrats making this decision, it's over. There can be no other candidate than Obama. He may lose in the general, but that will be a small price to pay. This candidacy matters more to elite Democrats than to the political realities of the general election. Hillary Clinton isn't making this decision easy, but, in the end, it won't matter. This is about history. This is about symbolism. This is about shiny ideals and a perfect vision.

Democrats will, without irony, savage John McCain--even his amazing military record. They will paint him as conservative (which conservatives will roll their eyes at). They will disparage his long record. Trying to fight Obama's record will be like shadow boxing. He doesn't have one. His list of accomplishments is anemic, but he's not running on what he's done but what what he represents.

The only result of this Democratic primary will be a new level of cynicism that can only come from identity politics. And while this is all inevitable and predictable, it's distressing at the same time. A fractured society doesn't last long.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

2 comments:

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