After an undoubtedly long and arduous primary season, the verdict is finally in. Tempers flared, punches were thrown (some below the belt), and blood was shed… but in the end, after all the votes were counted (and yes, Michigan and Florida, they were), Barack Obama is the Democratic Presidential nominee.
As a believer of Barack and an avid follower of the election, it has been mentally and emotionally exhausting. The highs of Iowa and the February streak were soon followed by some big losses and deflating controversies. Though it certainly proved to be a challenge staying above the fray, Obama kept on the high road by running a dignified and respectful campaign centered around hope and progress rather than preying on people’s ignorance and fear. As exemplified by the monumental speech he gave addressing the Rev. Wright flap, Obama had clearly chosen to put his stake in his belief that the American people were sophisticated and thoughtful enough to be treated like adults and that they would understand that almost nothing in the world is, for lack of a better term, purely black and white. He bet on the American people and he won.
Like so many others, I thought it was in Hillary’s and the Democratic Party’s best interest that she gracefully bow out when it became clear that Obama’s lead was insurmountable. It irked me to no end how comfortable she was with the fact that her chance of winning depended on the superdelegates overruling the will of the people. But I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt anyway. After all, perseverance and belief in oneself are traits we can all admire. But as the election dragged on and she refused to concede even after all the votes were in, those admirable traits gave way to downright lunacy and narcissism. By all accounts, Barack clinched the nomination last night and she STILL couldn’t admit defeat and throw her support behind her party’s
presumptive nominee. Isn’t it exactly that kind of disregard for reality that has gotten us into the mess we’re in now? It just defies reason. Maybe she’s trying to stay long enough to recoup some of her campaign’s $20 million debt? Who knows. Let's hope it's true that she saves face on Saturday.
Ever since it started looking like Obama had the nomination locked up, I’ve been back and forth over and over again about whether or not I thought Hillary should be his running mate. For a long time, I thought it was a good idea. I mean… I’ve had plenty of criticisms of the way Hillary has run her campaign. She and her staff resorted to lying, manipulation, fear mongering, and other sneaky tactics that come with a scorched-earth battle plan. But, however marred her image has become by her misguided and damaging campaign strategy, Hillary has had a political career to be proud of. She has done great work in the name of equality and justice for all (especially in regards to healthcare). Not to mention, as she certainly wasn’t too shy to remind us last night, she has 17 million passionate supporters that can help the Dems bury McCain in November. Hillary has served her country well and I believe that she will continue to… but it’s clear to me now that it’ll just have to be from somewhere other than the White House.
It’s truly unfortunate that Hillary made a dream ticket impossible. It could have worked… but too many things were said and done by her and her inner circle that run contrary to Obama’s central tenet of changing the system. If these primaries have reminded us of anything, it’s that the Clintons are masters of old-style Washington politics.
Mere months ago (it seems so much longer, though, doesn’t it?) Hillary was practically already considered the presumptive nominee. Nobody could have guessed that the charismatic yet relatively unknown young black senator from Illinois would overcome the Goliath that is the Clinton political machine. Some said he was too inexperienced to win. Some said he was overly idealistic and naïve. Some said he was too black. Nevertheless, some believed. But now isn’t the time for “I told you so.”
On the contrary, now is the time for “we’re on the same side.” Sure, some are deeply hurt that their candidate didn’t end up on top. A lot of women in particular feel betrayed by a country that claims to view them as equals, and understandably so. It really is sad that a country that so highly regards itself as just and fair-minded has yet to elect a female president. Those women should take solace in the fact that Hillary really could have been the one. Yes, there were sexist forces in the media and elsewhere that were working against her, but not so much so that she wasn’t a legitimate contender for Leader of the Free World. Ultimately the fault was her own, not her gender’s. Though she clearly made great strides on behalf of gender equality, she just wasn’t quite the right candidate for the moment… but we now know that the time is near.
Save for a few particularly scorned supporters, I do believe that most of Hillary’s side will come around and realize that Obama is a far better choice than McCain. After the dust settles and the pain subsides, they’ll realize that, among other things, the next President will likely nominate at least one Supreme Court Justice that will either uphold or overturn Roe v. Wade. Though some have sworn never to support Barack, I have no doubt that with clear minds they’ll recognize their folly in time for November. As Obama supporters, we must help them along and not deride them for not being on Obama’s side sooner. They had as much a right to support Hillary as they do to have a change of heart.
Though the next challenge for Obama will certainly include differentiating his policies from McCain’s (and boy are the contrasts stark), his success lies in his ability to unify and highlight people’s similarities. Looking to November, what he needs to do is to simply continue doing what he has been… reminding people that we all ultimately want the same things. He also needs to continue inspiring people to expect more from their government and to expect more from themselves.
The most amazing thing about Obama is his uncanny ability to bring out the amazing in the American everyman. As he has acknowledged time and again, change takes time and hard work. Progress won’t magically come if we get him into office. It’ll require a little bit out of all of us. So let’s get to it, people! We’ve got work to do.
MP3: Kidz In The Hall ft. Bun-B and Talib Kweli - Work To Do (Obama for America Remix)