Rethinking the Bases: Whites, Blacks, or All Kinds of Americans

Interesting race discussion in a USA Today article:

“I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,” she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article “that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

Clink – That’s the sound of the coin dropping for black voters. The Clintons have moved on from you to uneducated white folks and manipulating every irrational fear that might haunt them, specifically by using race-bating language. I’m embarrassed to admit that there was a time when I would have simply said, “that’s politics.”

But now, thinking of the U.S. electorate as a collection of otherwise disconnected body parts to be sewn together like Frankenstein’s monster seems very old fashioned.

Here was the Obama campaign’s response to Clinton’s comments:

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said that in Indiana, Obama split working-class voters with Clinton and won a higher percentage of white voters than in Ohio in March [edt. – Before the Wright thing]. He said Obama will be the strongest nominee because he appeals “to Americans from every background and all walks of life. These statements from Sen. Clinton are not true and frankly disappointing.

I’m not a big fan of all of the calls for Hillary to withdraw. She’s worked very hard all of her life and made a lot of sacrifices (some questionable) to get this nomination. She should think long and hard about her donors, her future, and, most importantly, the country’s wellbeing before pulling out.

But there is elegance in the way the Obama campaign countered her assertions. First, Burton casually refutes her claim on a factual basis. But then he takes the opportunity to reinforce one of Obama’s key messages, which is to say that the future success of our country depends on being relevant to “Americans from every background and all walks of life.”

The difference is subtle, but key. It isn’t, I don’t think, that she doesn’t care about all Americans or that Obama doesn’t care about having a broad base. The difference is that she starts from the philosophy of a particular base of constituents, so automatically a group is preferred. That’s where that “say anything to get elected” impression comes from. Obama seems committed to keeping all voters on a level playing field, which requires a lot of face time with a LOT of different people to pull off convincingly. That and voter registration will be the keys to his campaign.

One last thing, if Clinton talks super delegates into giving her the nomination when the popular vote moved for Obama, Clinton will not only have smoked her chances for the presidency, she’ll have succeeded in shattering the Democratic party and making every new registered voter a jaded American. If it happens, it happens, and maybe finally a third party would come from the ashes, but I think that the Democrats will be screwed.

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One Comment on “Rethinking the Bases: Whites, Blacks, or All Kinds of Americans”

  1. Citizen D Says:

    Nice post.

    While I hear what you’re saying about Hillary working hard her whole life and that she deserves to continue if she wants, I think it should end with Indiana and North Carolina. Enough is enough. Move on to defeating McCain. There is an argument to be made that the continuing competition actually helps the Democrats because, otherwise, no one would pay attention to the remaining primaries. I think that’s hog wash. It can’t hurt McCain that the two of them are still battling it out.

    Regardless, I’m sick just considering that the supers might vote for Hillary and overturn the popular vote.


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