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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Robert Newby: The Democratic Campaign: Triumph or Debacle???

What Happens to a Dream Deferred?: Obama, the Clintons, and The Black Vote
Robert Newby, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Central Michigan University

The sharp division between Barack Obama and the Clintons is a political struggle of historic importance. This election has the potential of being a major triumph for a transcendent “new politics” and changing “the face” of America, on the one hand, or being a political debacle that could be the ruin of the Democratic party, on the other. The struggle on one side of this division is an entrenched “politics as usual” of the Clintons. The struggle on the other side is Barack Obama’s more idealist political movement for “change” and a new America. As stated by one of Obama’s high-level operatives, “We are here to change the country….” By contrast, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is the very essence of politics as usual. The Party machinery, particularly the traditional Democrats allied to the eight years of the Bill Clinton presidency, made her the inevitable nominee. Having the glamour and appeal of being the first woman president, and having a war chest that was to be unrivaled, her campaign was assumed to be won through the traditional and established party connections, politics as usual. Also, understand that key to the success of Democratic party nominees is the party’s most loyal constituency, African Americans. As a part of that politics as usual and the candidacy of the wife of “the first black president,” this core constituency of the Democratic party was to be a given. With these assumptions guiding the Clinton campaign, there was a short-sightedness as to the depth of the crisis and what the times call for.

The disaster of the Bush administration has given both conservative and Republican a bad name. Black America and a broad cross-section of Americans, generally, oppose the belligerence exemplified by the War in Iraq. Black America and a broad section of Americans want an end to the corruption and waste. Black America and a broad cross-section of Americans want a halt to the meanness of the racism and “class warfare” being waged against Americans, particularly the working class and the poor. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are just the most blatant example of this attack on the so-called middle class. Current polls show that 75% of the nation thinks the country is going in the wrong direction. What the Obama candidacy represents is a transformation from the nearly thirty years of conservatism and the politics of division. “Change” has been his theme from “day one.” He seeks a change for a hopeful future, not regurgitating battles of the past. What was an electoral campaign has morphed into a political movement that is spirited and broad based. Even more he has been bequeathed the charismatic leadership of John Kennedy. Charismatic leaders have passionate followers. Consequently, his campaign has the promise of transformative change.

For the Clinton campaign, the problem is perceived to be a need for a change of administration. The failures of the Bush administration have led to widespread deep-seated resentment, a resentment to the point that Republicans have little credibility. This next election in all likelihood will spell doom to conservatism and the Republican Party, at least temporarily, if not for a more enduring period. More than anything else, the debacle of the war in Iraq, along with all of its moral and constitutional violations, there is a general feeling out there that Americanism has been violated – in our names. It is imperative that the approach to the war be wrested from the Bush/Cheney aggression. Unfortunately, another Clinton presidency is more continuity than change. That is the problem. Given the nation’s politics since 1980, what is needed is not a just a change in administration but a change in politics in America. As Obama says, “now is the time for change” and that “we are the change we have been waiting for.” It is this need for a new politics, not politics as usual, that is the short-coming of the Clinton candidacy.

As Barack points out , now is the time for another “transformative” president. First, having experienced nearly thirty years of the mean-spirited white nationalist “Reagan Revolution,” including the presidency of George W. Bush, a presidency many argue has been the worst in history, the demand for change has captured the sentiment of the American people, black, white, young, old, men and (white) women, with the exception of those over 50. Second, having an opportunity to make that change take the form of a whole new vision for America come in the package of a charismatic African American whose very being, as the nation’s president, would represent an America that is new! In addition to his charm and “good speeches,” Barack Obama is a very bright man. With Obama as president, America would see itself differently. In contrast to America’s current image abroad, an Obama presidency would elevate exponentially America’s image in the world. The Europeans, the Africans, the Asians, the Latin Americans will be charmed by him. The look of his rallies show “a new America” and as the victories mount all across the nation, Barack Obama’s campaign has ignited a movement. In the face of this new “hope” for America, politics as usual will have its consequences, including the possibility of deep long lasting divisions in the Democratic party.

Even though Bill Clinton has had a checkered past with Black America, being tabbed by Toni Morrison as America’s first “black president,” has had some salience. As a consequence of this characterization and the perceptions surrounding it, Bill Clinton’s ties into the black community are deeply rooted. Do we need any more validation than the fact that the office of this Past President is in Harlem? His biography has made him a friend and ally of the black community. Prior to the campaign, it was expected that Hillary Clinton would have the support of a community that perceives her to be an advocate on their behalf. That expectation notwithstanding, the Obama candidacy has obliterated the notion of Hillary being the “rightful heir” of the black vote. Obama stands in the way of the nomination of Hillary and therefore Clinton power. This explains the “race distinction” that erupted surrounding the South Carolina primary. In fact, more than any other block of voters, the key to a Clinton victory was support from the black community. As a result of brilliant campaign organization, the white voters of Iowa freed the blacks in South Carolina from the dilemma that they might be throwing away their votes. The Iowa victory provided a confidence in the African American community that an African American can win! Consequently, the black vote that was the key to the Clinton candidacy has been derailed by an African American who is capturing the hearts and minds of an American populace that seeks a new political climate in Washington.

This contest for the Party nomination finds a division within the African American community. Hillary Clinton found her African American support among the party loyalists and entrenched leaders in the black community. Many of these supporters are “mainline” Democrats, including the New York party loyalists, as opposed to more grassroots and anti-war Democrats whose politics demand a more fundamental change in America’s political agenda. These ties go deep as one would expect given the Clinton presidency in the era of right wing rule that began with the Ronald Reagan. Among these ties are the many African Americans who had appointments in the Clinton administration and their associates. Clinton did change the face of Washington with his appointments. As stated by Obama, the Clintons have been the most powerful force in the Democratic party in the last 20 years. The ties with the African American community have not been limited to Bill Clinton’s presidency. Throughout the years, the Clintons have been involved in and committed to civil rights causes. Clinton was the first sitting President to visit Africa. He was willing to offer an apology for slavery. He tried to have the nation engage in a conversation about race. For a number of years Hillary was on the board of directors for Mariam Wright Edleman’s the Children’s Defense Fund. Edleman, a close associate of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement, has an important legacy when it comes to advocacy for children of the poor, particularly the black poor. The Clintons do have their pedigree. These are the credentials of the Clintons when it comes to those mainline African American Democrats who support her.

Not being beholden to the party elite, the Barack Obama candidacy has engendered overwhelming grassroots support in black communities. To head off this groundswell of support in the pivotal state of South Carolina, key black Clinton supporters, Congressman John Lewis and BET founder, Robert Johnson, were sent out to make vicious attacks on Obama. In more subtle ways, Bill Clinton attempted to marginalize Obama, as well. South Carolina became the writing on the wall. With the black vote going to Obama, Clinton lost her inevitability to become the nominee. Obama’s success in the black community is creating a schism between those more establishment Democrats who are supporting Hillary and their constituencies. The interesting thing is that the elected officials and party leaders are super delegates. Which means, who they support is not a academic exercise. One way or another, the votes of the super delegates are likely to decide the nominee. How can a Clinton supporter use their vote for Hillary at the convention when 70-80% of their districts voted for Obama? A few weeks ago, Congressman Lewis was strident in his criticism of Barack. In the Georgia primary his constituency went about 80% for Obama. He was the first to switch from Clinton to Obama. There will be others.

The Clinton/Obama loyalties have split families. Congressman Charles Rangel, who was instrumental in having the Clintons come to New York, is a central figure in Clinton politics. He had his criticism of Obama early on, as well. His wife is supporting Obama. The Rangels are not alone. The party’s other power, the Kennedys, are split over this nomination. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. is one of Obama’s National Co-Chairs. Jackie Jackson, Jackson’s wife is supporting Hillary. Jesse Jackson, Jr., from Chicago like Obama, is a key player in the Obama campaign. Professors Michael Dyson and Christopher Edley support Obama. Their wives support Hillary Clinton. There is passion in these loyalties. Ties and loyalties notwithstanding, the Obama candidacy has caught the spirit of the people. His is a new vision for America, a transformative agenda.

Obama’s strength is his transcendence, his being above the fray. Being a visionary, albeit an African American, his success would in itself transform the perception of America, internally and externally. As stated above, the Obama campaign is more than that, it is a movement. Movements take on passions. Given Obama’s charisma and unique place in history, his being “soiled” as a result of attacks is likely to leave deep scars. The Clinton campaign, including former President Bill Clinton, by playing politics as usual with a candidacy that represents a new vision is stirring deep passions and resentments. It is politics as usual to deliberately distort the message of an opponent. It is politics as usual to try to belittle your opponent as opposed to dealing with the issues. Years ago, it was politics as usual when Bill Clinton addressed Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition in 1992 and in front of this predominately black audience attacked the rapper, Sista Soulja. Under the circumstances, we all know that in the interests of black unity it is not right for a “brother” to go to another brother’s house and then embarrass him in front of his family. So, we must assume what it all comes down to is that the “first black president” was really white (or certainly reaching out to whites).

For Bill Clinton, however, as much as he is liked among black voters, his interests now are the politics of the personal, his wife and his legacy. Linked to his whiteness, his “bad cop” attacks on Obama have been aided and abetted by Hillary’s black supporters’ tactics and actions. Even though they say the attacks “have been effective,” the animosity engendered against the Clintons in the black community has been considerable. The viciousness of the attacks has toned down, but “of necessity,” given their politics as usual, negative attacks continue. For African Americans, should the Obama campaign be defeated, they are likely to be perceived to have “deferred a dream” that few ever thought possible, a black president. Langston Hughes asked and answered the question of “what happens to a dream deferred?” some years ago. Those who dash dreams, particularly if it is perceived to have been done unfairly, would be resented.

At this point, there is a general consensus that it would take “a miracle” for Hillary to catch and overtake Obama given the proportional distribution of delegates in the remaining primaries and caucuses. She will need overwhelming victories to close the pledged delegate gap between herself and Obama. Having said that, the Clinton power in the Democratic party has netted her many more of the super delegates than Obama. It is possible that this group will be the “tie-breaker.” Should the Clinton power, and their politics of the personal, overturn the will of the rank and file, including the African American community, they will be viewed as being responsible for “deferring the dream” for a “new America.” After having lost Wisconsin and Hawaii by wide margins, the conventional wisdom is that Clinton must “go negative,” if she expects to win. With Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania at stake, it is anticipated that the Clinton campaign “will do whatever it takes to win.” There is a lot of power committed to the Clinton campaign. They are committed to not losing. The consequence of attempts to discredit Obama, however, will undoubtedly cause a profound resentment towards the Clintons and the Democratic party. The consequences for the party would be dire. About that dream deferred, “… does it explode?” as Langston Hughes would wonder. It is this train wreck that the Democrats hope to avoid in August in Denver.

Robert Newby, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus Central Michigan University. 2/20/2008

1 comment:

reda said...

شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام تقدم خدمات لا حصر لها رائعة لتلبية طلبات العميل وتحقيق كل ما يتمناه في خدمات نقل العفش بالدمام فثقتنا في اعمالنا جيدة قد وضعتنا كخبراء داخل مجال نقل الاثاث حيث يتم التشاور مع حقيبة مختلطة من داخل شركة نقل عفش بالدمام عن اختيار المواد الخاصة بك والمواد أو الأشياء من على عتبة منزلك لتصل جميع ممتلكاتك بأمان إلى المكان الذي ترغب فيه
شركة نقل الاثاث بجدة لدينا ميل الي التفكير في إعطاء نوع من الإدارات لدي شركة نقل اثاث بجدة التي تطوير انفسهم ومتابعة كل ما هو حديث في عالم نقل الاثاث المنزلي والبحث عن الطرق الحديثة التي تؤدي الي انجاز المهمة بكل سهولة والتي تترك نجاح باهر يمكن أن يساعد على ارضاء نفسية عملائنا.لدينا الميل في شركة نقل عفش بجدة إلى أن يشار جيدا إلى السيارات الحديثة التي نمتلكها علي انها ذات كفاءة عالية كما نمتلك عمال تنزيل علي اعلي مستوي كما يوجد لدينا في خدمة نقل عفش بجدة
فنين فك وتركيب لديهم القدرة الكافية علي التعامل مع جميع انواع الاثاث كما اننا نمتاز باننا نمتلك المغلفون الذين يقومون بتغليف جميع الاثاث المنزلي للحفاظ عليه من الغبار والتكسير كل هذه العوامل التي تقدمها شركتنا نتيجة للمعيار والتنمية والعقل
شركة نقل الاثاث بمكةتكتشف مجموعتنا الخاصة في فريق شركة نقل اثاث بمكة في خدمتك في أي وقت من اليوم وأنها مستعدة للبقاء طيلة الوقت لمساعدتك في نقل اثاث منزلك سواء كان بيتك كبير او صغير قهذه ميزة الشركات الكبيرة التي تقدم الخدمات المتميزة فنحن نأمل دائما لإعطاء أفضل انطباع من تجربة نقل ممتازة. يتم اتخاذ كل خطوة الرعاية من قبل فريقنا والتعامل مع أفضل طريقة ممكنة. لدينا في شركة نقل عفش بمكة المتخصصين هم أيضا على استعداد للرد على الاحتياجات الفورية لعملائنا الكرام.
مستودعات تخزين الاثاث بالرياضالتعبئة والتغليف واحدة من أكثر المعترف بها في خدمة نقل وتخزين الاثاث بالرياض فخدمة التعبئة والتغليف لدي شركة تخزين اثاث بالرياض يمكن أن يحصل على انتباه الكثير من العملاء وهذا يرجع ببساطة إلى أننا نواصل الوفاء بطلباتهم. كما قمنا بتطوير وواصلنا تقديم أفضل الخدمات التي تحافظ علي ممتلكتهم في مستودعات تخزين العفش التي تكمل في الحفاظ علي الأموال المدفوعة في ممتلكتهم لحين الرجوع اليها مرة أخري
شركة تخزين اثاث
الشيء المثير للإعجاب بالنسبة الينا في شركة تخزين عفش بالرياض هو أن فريقنا على استعداد لخدمتك في أي وقت من اليوم لطالما كنت بحاجة لدينا فنحن نواصل إقناع عملائنا التأمين علي جميع العناصر الخاصة بهم. هذا هو السبب الرئيسي لماذا بقينا على أنها