Sunday, February 17, 2008

Democrats, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

If you think the air around Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has gotten more than a little frosty of late, the climate in cyberspace has gotten downright frigid -- and openly hostile. I am talking about the alarming number of Democrats squarely taking aim at each other, not at the Grand Old Party or the Flip Flop Express. The vitriol is breathtaking, deeply disappointing, and -- if we aren't careful -- has the potential to create emotionally-laden, divisive wounds amongst Democrats that could be tough to heal by November. The media's rabid coverage of the dog fight is also infecting the wound.

Come on, people. Democrats have nothing to complain about. We had an excellent field, and its been narrowed down to two worthy candidates. Unfortunately, the last two standing are now engaging in vigorous, damaging mud slinging -- so first off, both Clinton and Obama need to start leading by example and kick up the civility a notch or two. Their bad behavior is breeding more bad behavior, throwing red meat to impassioned followers who are taking up verbal arms against fellow Democrats -- with a vengeance. And it's getting personal on all sides. The level of discourse in political chat rooms and the blogosphere has sunk to new lows, with cyber pundits taking personal potshots at the candidates and each other, leveling charges of racism and mysogyny, vote fixing and who-knows-what else.

Bascically, it seems the fervent supporters of Clinton and Obama are doing the Republicans' work for them, for free and seemingly with great joy, by tearing the Democratic nominees to shreds before the general election has even gotten started. (By the way, Mr. McCain appreciates your efforts. He would send a personal note of gratitude -- but, truly, there are simply way too many of you engaging in the circular firing squad for him to express his personal thanks to each and every person. Just know you're in his thoughts and prayers.)

Please. We have got to keep our eyes on the prize. Say it with me: It's the White House, people. Write it 100 times. Make it your screen saver. Put a post-it note on your bathroom mirror. Whatever it takes to keep the preeminent goal in mind. Imagine four years of John McCain -- four years of Republican judicial nominations, four years of damaging Republican executive branch regulations and political appointees, four more years of the war in Iraq -- to spend regretting the nastiness perpetrated against Clinton and Obama within our own ranks. That would be bitter-tasting fruit indeed, and the results for the country would be devastating.

This campaign has been exhilirating, truly one for the ages. It has generated unprecedented interest in not only the candidates but the electoral process itself. This is fantastic news no matter how you look at it. Let's not spoil it by shooting ourselves in the foot. Democrats need to get out of our own damn way. We need to channel all that positive energy for change into our mutual goal -- and it is our shared goal -- and that is getting rid of George W. Bush and ensuring a Democrat takes his place on January 20, 2009. Cheer for your favorite now, argue the merits of various proposals, be enthusiastic about the prospects for a new day, but remember that overzealousness today might well come back to haunt us tomorrow. Democrats must be able to wholeheartedly unite as one party around the eventual nominee if we hope to prevail in the end. I believe we demagogue our primary candidates at our own peril, and risk the general election in the process.

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