As Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue in a fight-to-the-finish, the debate over the value of the Electoral College system gathers steam-- again.
Currently, Democratic delegates are won based on voter percentages not ballots cast. More distressing, “super delegates” are free to vote as they please.
Democrats are about to select either the first woman or the first black presidential nominee. Followers of both candidates are deeply committed. Women who remember a lifetime of sexism in lost opportunities and exclusion support Clinton. So does the mainstream mainly white Democratic establishment and Latinos who love the Clintons and dislike blacks they feel too often overshadow them.
Obama, conversely, has tremendous support among African-Americans, archliberals, and young voters, all of whom work tirelessly for his cause. Such a passionate following sparks more energy than Clinton’s traditional gang.
Obama— always mesmerizing—often uses language of entitlement. With every step closer to a convention fight, he invokes a vague “we” whose “time has come.” On Super Tuesday, he finally said, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
The race card long avoided is now subtly played daily by both sides, though older female and Latino support of Clinton pales before the fired-up black legions for Obama. Such support is in line with America’s political habit of ethnics lining up behind “one of their own.” Though few are willing to articulate this, blacks for Obama are no different than Irish for Kennedy, Italians for Cuomo, or Jews for Lieberman.
When Obama speaks of so many small contributions like the $3 money order mailed in by a Southern elder, he is not talking about masses voting from conviction on national or international issues, he is talking about a black person voting for another black person because, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
In the end, voters will have “chosen” a bunch of political regulars who, between visits to “hospitality suites,” will select the nominee. “Super” delegates who hold the deciding votes this year may favor Clinton who clearly has more political chits to call in than the less-than-one-term senator from Illinois.
How will black America react if Obama is “passed over” and Clinton gets the nod in this politically tainted and obtuse system?
Oprah, Jesse Jackson, and black scholars from Harvard may be angry and vocal, but, in the end, they will surrender to the pecking order that has always defined political reality. They are more comfortable with rhetoric than rioting.
But will those who cheered OJ Simpson’s acquittal because, finally, they beat “the man,” joined by college students always ready for a fight, and, inner city poor weaned on the rioting of Watts be physical or philosophical?
CNN and Washington Post polls show that if Obama is the nominee, Clinton supporters are willing and even happy to rally behind this capable, charismatic black man promising, “Change we can believe in.” The same polls say Obama supporters will get behind the brilliant, hard-working Sen. Clinton if she is chosen.
In the end, the demeanor of the losers, whoever the Democratic nominee will be, will test one “change” that we would all like to believe in.
- ▼ 2008 (17)