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Monday, March 31, 2008
The Clinton Coalition and the Democratic Party

Big Tent Democrat asks a question I've been thinking lately myself: Why are the Clinton-haters intent on destroying the Democratic Party?

let's assume the worst of Clinton and ignore the damage people like Josh Marshall have done and continue to do. Why don't we play that game with Clinton haters like Marshall? Do they hate Clinton so much that they will destroy the Democratic Party to make sure Clinton has no chance to win the nomination? Would they rather insure Dems lose Florida and Michigan in November instead of honoring the will of the voters in Florida and Michigan in a revote? Do they hate Clinton more than they care about the Democratic Party?
It's good that Sen. Clinton is a tough woman; few politicians have to experience this vile behavior from their so called allies. Luckily, the Obama campaign has seemed to change tracks and have laid off the calls for Sen. Clinton to withdraw.

A lot of people suggest that continue competition gives John McSame a free pass. They are wrong. As the folks over at Direct Democracy observe, if both Democrats commit to the issues, and if the Obama campaign would honor the primary results of Florida and Michigan, or schedule a revote, then it is all for the good.

As we saw yesterday with the candidates' respective speeches on the economy, this primary race does not preclude running against McCain and as we also saw yesterday, if Clinton does choose to try to win by tearing Barack Obama down instead of making her own case to voters in a constructive way, the superdelegates, which hold the key to both candidates' paths to the nomination, will turn on her. But ultimately if Democrats who are concerned that Clinton will take this all the way to the convention really want to make sure this ends before July 1, as Howard Dean has now called for, they'll urge Barack Obama to back remedies for Michigan and Florida. The idea that Barack Obama can claim a clear win without two states that early in the process would have gone handily to Senator Clinton is absurd. This IS her rationale for taking this to the convention, so anyone who would like to avoid that eventuality should get behind an alternative for those states. Gov. Richardson? Sen. Dodd? Sen. Leahy? Sen. Obama?

Why are so many people who support Obama insistent on mocking the votes of women, the white working class, and Hispanics? As Anglachel observes, Sen. Clinton has assembled one of the most diverse coalitions in Democratic history and yet is accused of racism:
[T]he current campaign reminds me of 1968 all over again, except that the targets of the high-minded ire are so unlike the caricatures being painted that I’m left going “WTF?” From Hillary herself as some kind of crypto-racist to Hispanic women Ohioans being compared to a 70’s era ethnic white male bigot, it just boggles the mind. The Stevenson contingent has no narrative, no political frame adequate to address the coalition that has formed around Hillary. They are left grasping at what this person represents to people who do not fall into the educated (male) wine-track or the uneducated (male) beer-track. On the other hand, I’m not sure anyone else has a clear concept of this new constituency either. What does it mean that an upper Midwest born, New England educated white woman who lived for several decades in Arkansas and now calls New York home is sweeping border state primaries and also cleaning up in Florida, California and Massachusetts? What part of the Democratic imagination is she setting on fire?

She is creating a new coalition of voters, more diverse than the pundits are really aware of. It is different than the powerfully Southern draw that Bill had, but, given her strength in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, southern Ohio, roughly the Appalachian areas plus Oklahoma and Texas, there is definitely a Southern component. It is too easy to write it off as race due to the tremendous appeal that Obama has for AA voters, because it assumes only “Bunker” and “Bubba” stereotypical motivations (race hatred) for her supporters, and not that a large portion of people who would otherwise gladly be counted on her side are motivated by salutary racial pride to support another. Racism and ethnic prejudice exist in this country, but I refuse to reduce the political decisions of the majority of my fellow Democrats to destructive racist motives, whether in Hillary’s favor or in Obama’s.
I think political analyst Chuck Todd hit the right note when he wrote:
I would argue the Wright story turned off enough older white voters so that Obama can no longer argue that when compared with Clinton he will expand the electoral map in a general election with McCain.

Now he can simply say he will use a different map; a map that ultimately might expand for the party as a whole, even if his path to 270 is no less narrow a victory than Clinton's. It is just different....

Clinton should feel no hurry to get out. In fact, she is also making Obama a better candidate by forcing him to up his rhetoric on the economy and start working harder to woo these working class, white voters who appear to be eluding him in the Rust Belt states.