Carol Platt Liebau: The Coming Democratic Battle

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Coming Democratic Battle

The closeness of the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spells danger for the Democratic Party, as Larry Eichel of the Philadelphia Inquirer acknowledges.

The problem is that the superdelegates are going to have to decide who wins the Democratic nomination. If the race had come down Dennis Kucinich vs. either Clinton or Obama, the choice would be easy. Kucinich doesn't attract mainstream Democrat support, whereas both Clinton and Obama do.

The difficulty here is that both candidates can lay a strong claim to the nomination -- Clinton through her machine's hold with the superdelegates (if they favor her), and Obama if he continues to capture the greatest number of state delegations.

And in the aftermath, the Democrat Party will be left to cope with the losers, who have learned all too well the lessons of racial or gender grievance the party has stoked to gain an edge on the supposedly racist, sexist Republicans all these years. Inconsistencies will be rife -- for a foretaste, think of long-time pro-choice feminist and newly-minted gender-blind meritocrat Kate Michelman can attest.

Any hope that a deal could be brokered to persuade Obama to go away quietly and try again another day must take into account the reaction in Black America to such an overture. And why, after all, should Barack wait for another election where historic tides might not run so strongly in the Democrats' favor?

For once, Frank Rich gets it -- at least in part. The Clintons are prepared to win ugly, whatever the cost to the long-term future of the Democrat Party. For Republicans coping with their own internecine warfare, they can, at least, be grateful that their disagreements are over matters of ideas, not gender or skin color. For ideological disagreements can be discussed and resolved -- but in a Democratic Party bound together in large part by identitiy politics, and which ahs tried to teach that biology or race is destiny, the breaches may be much more difficult to repair.


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