Water Man Spouts

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This Isn't a Tickling Contest

In December 2007, after being knocked out by Floyd Mayweather, boxer Ricky Hatton was asked what had happened? "Well, as I said, this isn’t a tickling contest," he said.

I think that is true of the democratic primary contest, as well. A number of good candidates, who could have made good presidents, have been knocked out of the contest.

Today the candidate who seemed to best represent the progressive and liberal wings of the democratic party is dropping out of the contest. I am confident that John Edwards will continue to advocate for social justice, through the democratic convention and the 2008 election. I hope that he will be the next US Attorney General, because I am convinced that is the position where he could best continue to advocate for social justice in the land.

The contest now is between two candidates: Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton. As we move closer to Super Tuesday, there are important events taking place. Both Obama and Clinton are getting important and impressive endorsements. It may be that in time John Edwards will endorse one of the two remaining democrats.

It is possibly that the contest between Obama and Clinton will continue to be ugly. The supporters from both camps feel that the other candidate is primarily responsible for the problems. The issue was highlighted by reports in the media of Senator Edward Kennedy calling former President Bill Clinton to request that he stop bringing the issue of race into the contest.

Senator Kennedy has since publicly endorsed Barack Obama. In large part, this was because Ted decided that Hillary Clinton can not win in the general election. He based this on two issues: (a) Senator Clinton’s high negatives; and (b) the Clinton campaign’s divisive tactics.

The Clinton campaign has been fully aware of her high negatives. They are confident that Senator Clinton can win the general election despite the negatives. They are also aware of the potential for damaged relationships before the convention, but believe that this is part of the primary process, and that the party will come together in the fall.

Since Senator Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama, other interests in the democratic party have accused him of betraying them. Of note is a harsh statement issued by some members of NOW.

The truth is that internal fighting has led to bitterness which has prevented the party from uniting in the past. We have had examples of in-fighting during primaries divide us, such as in 1968, the year which the current primary contests seems to most closely resemble.

This isn’t a tickling contest, but it does not have to be a bloody brawl. We should be able to have civil, rational discussions about the issues that are the most important to us. That doesn’t mean we will agree on every issue or either candidate. But we can move ahead in an attempt to find common ground. If we can’t try to do that now, it will become harder to do at the convention or in the general election.


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