A Modest Proposal for Achieving Democratic Unity (Really)
After reading VL's post, I got to thinking about something Chris Bowers wrote awhile ago about how if the Democrats lost this election, it would be a failure of the party and the entire party leadership should resign. I think this may be how we could achieve party unity - by holding party officials accountable for the failures of the party. The rewards for success will flow from winning and should take care of themselves. Although if the Democratic candidate wins in November, credit should be given where credit is due and that extends beyond the individual candidate.
Neither Clinton nor Obama is the perfect candidate. They both have strengths and weaknesses. We will be arguing over these for at least the next month. That's what primaries are for. Having said that, no candidate is ever the perfect candidate. John Edwards has weaknesses. Al Gore has weaknesses. Every candidate, every human being has strengths and weaknesses. There will never be a perfect, unbeatable candidate because there will never be a perfect human being.
While each candidate has weaknesses, neither of them is radically outside mainstream American political thought or appears to have any fatal flaws that should make them unelectable to the American public. Therefore, by definition, each of them is electable. What we will argue over in the primary is who is more electable.
We are facing what is perhaps the best political environment for the Democratic Party since Herbert Hoover. We have an unpopular war launched by an unpopular Republican president. We have a tanking economy with rising foreclosures, rising gas prices, a shaky and corrupted financial market and food rationing. We have a broken healthcare system and a growing chasm between rich and poor.
In short, the country is broken and the Republicans are the ones who broke it. What's more, the GOP is a party that is out of energy and ideas. It is losing Congressional elections or at least spending a fortune to win Congressional elections in districts that have long been safely Republican. They are running a candidate who is essentially promising more of the same to a country that less than a third of the people believe is on the right track.
Yet, in addition to people claiming they won't vote for Obama or won't vote for Clinton, I also get the sense that people are lining up to blame one or both of these individuals if the nominee loses. That is ridiculous.
Clinton and Obama have each raised more than twice the money as McCain, they've each gotten more votes in democratic primaries than any previous democrat in history. Absent some personal fatal flaw that has yet to emerge (DNA evidence proving Clinton really did kill Vince Foster, a photo of Obama worshipping at a radical, jihadist mosque) any failure in November will not be the fault of one or both of these two people, it will be the failure of the entire Democratic party. The choice between them is likely to come down not to voters, but to party leaders. Personally, I believe it isn't so much who is chosen, but how the decision is made that will determine whether the party splits. That is something within the control of party leaders.
Let's take for example Florida and Michigan. I may not be very happy that Obama hasn't done much to help resolve the issue, but that doesn't make the existence of the issue his fault. The decisions that have led us into this potentially self-destructive mess were made by party leaders. The solution to it will ultimately be made by party leaders. Obama and Clinton will have a say and, as potential party leaders themselves, should also be held accountable. But neither of them made this mess and if the party self-destructs over it, it would be unfair to blame only one or both of them.
I believe the best way to ensure post-primary party unity is for all democrats - regardless of who they support in the primary - to put the party leaders on notice that any failure to win the White House in November is a failure of the entire Democratic Party and as leaders of the party, the responsibility ultimately falls on them.
If Jim Clyburn wants to threaten the party with African Americans staying home if Clinton is the nominee, fine. But he owns that in November if she loses. If Chuck Schumer wants to back away from Universal Healthcare, undermining a key difference between the Democratic and Republican candidates, fine. But he owns that if we lose in November. If Howard Dean and other DNC leaders aren't brave enough to fix the MI/FL mess, fine. But they own that in November. If Donna Brazile wants to go on television and be a divisive ass, fine. But she owns that if we lose in November.
They do not get to separate themselves from the success or failure of their party. Their future is tied to the nominee's future. They should think twice before they do or say anything that weakens either candidate for November or fail to do everything in their power to unite the party after a candidate is chosen (which does not, of course, mean they can't take sides in the primary, it simply means to think before they say or do something incredibly divisive or that weakens the party overall).
Despite the current primary scuffles, the Democrats still have incredible advantages in November. No excuses. No scapegoats. We either win together. Or we lose together.