Sunday, February 10, 2008

Good things come to those who wait

By Libby

Although I'll certainly vote for a Democrat, I remain uncommited to a candidate. I just can't decide who I think will make a better president. So, as an unimpassioned observer, what I'm seeing right now is Obama rising on a tide of hope while Clinton is projecting a whiff of desperation, but both seem to be in an all-fired hurry to get the lock in. I think that's a mistake and Anonymous Liberal articulates the stakes really well.
The Republican party is very good at demonizing and building negative press narratives about whomever the Democratic nominee turns out to be. The sooner a nominee is selected, the more time they have to demonize him (or her). And those attacks are all the press talks about because the primary race is effectively over and there's not much else to talk about.

Assuming this primary process eventually leads to an undisputed winner (a big if at this point), it is far better for both Clinton and Obama that this process drag out as long as possible. As long as the outcome of the primary remains in question, the press coverage will continue to focus on the primary race and not the general election matchup. That helps both Clinton and Obama. It gives them lots of free and largely positive media coverage. They'll continue to appear on television debating each other and giving victory speeches. And when a nominee does eventually emerge, the Republicans will have less time to demonize and caricature that person, less time to inject their preferred narratives into the media. Choosing a nominee early is bad for the nominee.
I also think that prematurely curtailing a close contest risks losing the voter enthusiasm that this primary has generated. People are excited about the process in a way I haven't seen in decades. Democrats are coming out in droves to cast ballots. I would think the party would like to maintain that overall momentum no matter who ultimately carries the banner into the general.

At this point I think the biggest risk to a long race is in the superdelegates deciding the contest. I have to admit, I never really thought about them until this year and didn't really know how they came to be. Tad Devine sums up the history of these supercreatures and offers some cogent advice.
Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, and their campaigns, are pressuring superdelegates to pledge support to them before Democratic voters in the remaining primaries and caucuses have made their decisions. But Democratic leaders need to let the voters sort out which one of these two remarkable people will lead our party and, we hope, the nation.

After listening to the voters, the superdelegates can do what the Democratic Party’s rules originally envisioned. They can ratify the results of the primaries and caucuses in all 50 states by moving as a bloc toward the candidate who has proved to be the strongest in the contest that matters — not the inside game of the delegate hunt, but the outside contest of ideas and inspiration, where hope can battle with experience and voters can make the right and best choice for our party and our future.
Whether they make the best and right choice remains to be seen. After all, Bush was allegedly elected twice by these voters. Nonetheless I think it's important to allow the people to choose this time around and not the politicians. To do otherwise can only give rise to a greater general discontent and that won't be good for anyone.

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