Friday, February 08, 2008

When did choice become a problem?

The air had hardly cleared from Super Tuesday when former Gov. Mitt Romney decided to suspend his Republican contest for the Presidential nomination. He leaves a front-runner in Senator John McCain and former Governor Mike Huckabee, the darling of the conservative evangelicals. Their contest is not over, only delayed by the need to gain a majority of delegates. Huckabee can perhaps gain more support with time, but it looks like his bid is now to become the running mate of John McCain. I don't know about you, but my awareness that another evangelically-supported potential Vice-President will be just a breath away from assuming power from a 71 year-old type-A President does not speak much of change.

On the Democratic side, it became very clear from Super Tuesday that the race is far from decided. With Senator Obama's victories, he demonstrated that he is a contender, if not the candidate with the most momentum going into the next primaries. As a Democrat and one who seeks change in the US political system, I see these two as a couple of very good choices for the nomination. These two candidates may not agree on all of the details of how to repair the damage done to this country over thirty years of political domination by the Republican party, but their united message is that we must have change and that we will be united by the time of the general election.

It was less than a day after the Super Tuesday results were known that the media pundits started reporting that the close race for the Democratic nomination is "dividing the nation according to race and gender." Since when does having a democratic (small "d") choice of two good candidates become a problem? Divisiveness is such a relative quality to be considered when compared to the past two elections. We could hardly approach the degree of rancor that President Bush has generated over the past seven years.

It is my opinion that we have a great thing happening here. Clinton and Obama have a chance to earn their potential nod from the Democrats. Their are differences in their positions that allow those of us who have not yet had the opportunity to vote for either of them to participate in our mutual destinies. It is a blow to the concept of Super Tuesday and early primaries that no one is yet nominated, but that too, is a good thing. Shouldn't everyone in every state have a stake in who is running for President? If we want to hype up the system with a Super Tuesday and finalize the nominees before March, then, by God, let us have a national primary where everyone gets their chance to participate equally on the same day and with equal influence according to population. Get agreement on a national primary and we won't have to alienate delegates from Florida and Michigan, nor those from states with primaries that are much later than the rest.

The main differences on the issues between Clinton and Obama are few. Clinton supports a Universal Health Care plan, something that I fully support. Obama supports a less comprehensive health care plan. There are other differences that can be brought out with further debate. I welcome learning more about their records and positions on all issues.

So how does having a choice become a problem? I think the pundits have it wrong. I think we have an opportunity here...as long as the Democratic candidates remain civil with one another in the process. I call upon them both to do that. Inspire, speak to the issues and present a unified front about the things that we believe in common and we all win. Beat each other up in public and we all lose. I hope for civility, for change and for a brighter future.

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