2008

9 April 2008: Race for candidate a microcosm of national struggles

Race for candidate a microcosm of national struggles

In last month’s county convention, Clear Creek delegates voted overwhelmingly to support Barack Obama for president, 11 delegates for him with a mere 4 for Hillary Clinton. Two arguments have been set forth in support of Obama: he offers the better hope for a reversal in the negativity and downward spiral of the nation and for capturing the White House.

In the contest to replace Mark Udall, Joan Fitz-Gerald, who pulls no punches, has been trouncing Jared Polis. Building on her 100 percent sweep of Clear Creek, she has gone on to capture all other localities, with the exception of Broomfield, by huge margins. Going into the May 10 assembly, Fitz-Gerald has 55 percent of the delegates pledged, with Polis getting 33 percent, and 12 percent uncommitted.

The local Democrats choices mirror a nationwide ironic trend: at the presidential level, Democrats are gravitating towards the “bring us together” candidate, while at the other levels they are opting for “fighters,” those that will stand up to the moneyed oligarchy that has achieved dominion with George W. Bush.

The presidential race within the Democratic Party, unlike that of the Republican Party still happily mired in the 1920s, is a microcosm of the larger struggles of the nation and is forcing us to consider whether American white males collectively are more racist or misogynist, as we continue the struggle to deal with our history.

Enslavement of African Americans was a reality until the Civil War. Despite emancipation, blacks were routinely deprived of essential civil rights until the 1960s and 1970s; recall whites-only rules and laws in the South, miscegenation laws across the nation, and de facto segregation in cities like Denver.

Nevertheless, men, regardless of race, identify more with their testicles than with their skin color. Given that, Hillary Clinton may be a goner. The thought of men in uniform saluting a female goes beyond the pale of what macho American males can endure.

History provides the evidence. African American males were given the right to vote with the 15th Amendment in 1870, shortly after being freed. The white men who did that decided not to extend the right of suffrage to their mothers, wives, and daughters despite the nascent women’s rights movement, commencing in Seneca Falls, New York in 1846. It took another 50 years for women, who ostensibly were never subjugated, to gain it.

Two other factors bound together in the mix of the 2008 presidential race are generation and class. Those born before 1955, men who fought for workers’ rights and dealt with the reality of being drafted and women who participated in the struggle for women’s rights only to watch the Equal Rights Amendment go down to defeat, cannot help but view the world through the lens of an ongoing struggle against the powered elite.

This complexity of the Democratic contest—the mix of gender, race, generation, and class—tells us more about us as Americans than it does about the contest itself. The growing pains of America are still evident as we are indeed in the adolescent stage of national development, like teenagers go through identity crises.

Like teaching soon-to-be-adults, watching this primary race unfold has been exhilarating. While Republicans have saluted and fallen into line, Democrats are still doing this thing called democracy, despite enormous pressure from Boss Tweed types to put an end to it.

In November, it will either be a black man or a white woman against the latest incarnation of Herbert Hoover: John McCain, a shill for the super wealthy, who was against Bush’s tax cuts for the uber-wealthy before he was for them, who wasn’t good enough for Republicans in 2000 but is in 2008, and can’t wait to “bomb, bomb, bomb…bomb, bomb Iran.”

The ultimate question for Democrats is whether they will unite behind their standard bearer. Internecine war is a Democratic tradition. While Republicans by nature have obey-your-leader personalities, Democrats by nature do not take orders well.

Obama or Clinton becoming the next commander-in-chief not only would be affirmation of chaos theory that holds that order arises from disorder without the aid of a controlling force, it would also indicate that America is coming of age, indicating that our national hormones are leveling off and our national brain growth has taken a leap.

For kids, the potential for adulthood can be scary but is, nevertheless, anticipated eagerly. Sooner or later we will move from the impulsive, act-without-thinking stage to a more sober and thoughtful stage of development. November will tell.

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