The casual poetry of a structural issue
It's become a political cliché in this election season that Obama and his campaign have been largely about process issues ("politics, not policy") and that there is a large segment of the Democratic Party that is surprisingly passionate about process issues and see in Obama a way to bring process issues to the fore. This attitude towards process issues stretches back to the Dean campaign. Whether this attitude is justified is another matter, but it's becoming clear that it's not an issue that is likely to win a general election, and that the Obama campaign's focus on meta issues has been at the expense of issues that matter to another important voting bloc, and this might even cost him a nomination that for a time seemed to be practically his.
For those of you who know me from elsewhere or even have observed my occasional effusions here, I kind of enjoy skirting the bounds of devil's advocatry, and, more seriously, I like to take time to entertain the perspective and feeling of the Other Side in almost anything. As I have said before, I currently (Correntely?) disprefer Hillary less than I disprefer Obama, and also think that Hillary would do better than Obama against McCain. So consider this an Olive Branch post in the manner of Kid Oakland. What would the effect of a Clinton win be on the wing of the party that *does* believe, rightly or wrongly, that procedural and symbolic issues are the ones that the Democratic Party needs to confront?
Indeed, that I believe that Obama would have a harder time winning the GE doesn't necessarily mean that I don't entertain the idea that the (D) party also stands to lose something from a Clinton victory in the primary. For one thing, it seems to me that Obama *has* tapped into something that's more than mere Clinton-bashing. The fact that he *was* and *is* able to raise money and get feet on the ground and command such devotion and enthusiasm also suggests something. The fact that not only the Big Bloggers ended up in his camp, for the most part, but that low-level dKos diarists ended up Obamafans and are able to stir up this level of passion/desperation over a candidate with a lot of other weaknesses also suggests something to me.
(And that passion is still focused on procedural issues like superdelegates...)
It suggests that there *is* a segment of the Democratic-voting population that *is* passionate about process issues, and that this segment is also the one that can command a lot of fundraising dollars and feet on the ground and/or the web. They're passionate about process issues, because they believe that structural factors about the party and about US politics have prevented them from taking power in one way or another. And I think that's a perfectly fair thing to be resentful about, even if it's not something that can be safely appeased in this or maybe any election cycle.
So while I think that Clinton can defeat McCain more easily than Obama can defeat McCain, either way it's still going to be hard for either of them to go up against the Maverickociousness (cf. truthiness). Clinton *is* going to need the money and the feet on the ground and the blogthusiasm. So on a Clinton nomination, is it possible to heal this divide? I guess the only way to do so would be for a Clinton candidacy to make process issues somehow relevant to a campaign as well. I don't know if that can be done in time.
While threats like this and the ones that Donna Brazile seem to have implied may rankle, it remains the case that, whatever the outcome, this nomination campaign will an effect far in the future for the Democratic Party, particularly in the attitudes that its factions will have towards one another.