Tuesday, May 06, 2008

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.

What's important to us?

That's the question we've all had to ask ourselves again and again for over a year now as this presidential primary has dragged on longer than a Bergman film. It's the question we use to check ourselves against the candidate we support to make sure they conform to our own values in the leadership they espouse.

I don't think it's too much of a leap of faith to say that most of us who consider ourselves progressives answer that question with some more nuanced and detailed version of the following --

  • Ending the war in Iraq and focusing on the projection of influence through diplomacy and the return of our international prestige.

  • Appointing progressives to the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court.

  • Working to fix our broken health care system.

  • Returning the role of science and education to the forefront of our national priorities.

  • Tackling the economic challenges of the middle and lower classes of the United States.

  • Taking seriously the threats to our environment and enacting appropriate energy policy to save same.

  • Returning some sense of a constitutional government to the United States.

These are just some of the things we as progressives hope will come to pass under a Democratic President. These are our dreams.

My list of progressive dreams is by no means comprehensive. For example; on our side of the aisle there are those whose biggest dream is that we will someday have a woman or a black man sitting in the Oval Office. To these progressives all the other progressive dreams are secondary to seeing this worthwhile goal realized.

How can we take issue with that? The hope that someday a woman would break the through the ultimate glass ceiling in the Oval Office or an African-American would put the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow by taking the oath of office of the presidency has been at the forefront of the the progressive movement since this country was founded. I would go so far to argue that this is why this country was founded, even if our leaders have spent every day since then denying that truth.

It is to our great shame as a nation that these final barriers to the presidency still exist in the 21st century. We lag behind Pakistan (PAKISTAN!) in our gender bias towards who will lead this country. It's been thirty years since the other great English-speaking democracy has had a woman at it's helm. For all of our talk about the great melting pot of the United States the portraits of the faces of our U.S. presidents since the inception of this country are embarrassing in their lack of diversity.

In his wonderful speech on race in Philadelphia Barack Obama returned again and again to the idea that "my dreams don't have to come at the expense of your dreams." For the most part I agree with that sentiment.

But there is a blind spot to Obama's formulation. The biggest dream of the grandchildren of suffragettes and slaves cannot both be realized in this presidential election. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can't both have the nomination. Somebody's going to have to set aside their dream for now.

In a year where the Democratic candidate for the presidency is a virtual shoe-in, you could see why this idea is doubly difficult for many of those who see their dream just out of reach. This could go a long ways towards explaining why this campaign has gotten so ugly these last few months.

This idea became clear to me in an exchange with the the fabulous BAC last month. She's fought tooth and nail for Hillary Clinton this primary season and you couldn't find a bigger Clinton booster on the net. In her comment section I glibly wrote something to the effect that "we'll see a woman as President in our lifetime." BAC responded something along the lines of "in your lifetime, maybe. I'm getting up in years."

This broke my heart. I realized that in arguing for Obama, I was asking BAC not just put her dream on the back burner but in a sense to give up that dream. At least the opportunity to see it fulfilled with her own eyes.

As this primary winds to an end I would ask you to please keep BAC in mind in your discussions with friends and family, or your posts to your own blogs. It behooves those of us who supported other candidates to demonstrate a bit of magnanimity in light of the gravity of what we're asking of Clinton supporters. By all means celebrate Barack but don't tear down Hillary. She represents a hell of lot more than a gas tax holiday to millions of people. Please remember that.

Ask yourself what's important. Most of us as progressives, Clinton and Obama supporters, would answer with the same checklist of dreams. We want to fix all the garbage from the Bush years. We want to heal this country.


mwb said...

Hear, hear.

Of course, the real under representation in US Govt elective offices, is not women or ethnic minorities. It's the 95% of the country that is economically poor, working and middle class.

And heck look at the disproportionate representation lawyers and business people have in elective office.

But I digress....

Swinebread said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swinebread said...

I’d like to comment on this but I just can’t. Maybe we will talk.

Dean Wormer said...


True- but being poor doesn't automatically make one empathetic to the needs of your fellow poor just like being rich doesn't automatically disqualify you from empathy towards the less fortunated.

Case in point: that rich president in the wheel chair.


K- look forward to it.

mwb said...

Dean: Yup.

Of course, neither do race or sex.

But historically (with such rare exceptions as to really stand out) economics, class and profession are much stronger indicators of voting and political affiliations than race or sex.

Dean Wormer said...

Fair enough.

It really would be nice if our congress and white house looked a bit more like America and less like the world's biggest private country club.

(I also need to realy read what I've just typed. What the hell does "forunated" mean?)

U 2 keen tipe lik mee.

Randal Graves said...

dean, why do you hate white men? We're great!

All I've got to say is that whether one loves or loathes Hillary as a candidate and/or her campaign, one better hope that Obama and the Dem machine behind him fights just as long, hard and viciously against The Maverick®. I know that isn't a popular viewpoint, given Obama's public notation of a 'new politics,' but the wingnuts will finally have a non-white dude to go against. They're licking their rotten chops at the prospect, and it's going to be fucking ugly.

We don't have to be Rovian in our material since the facts are on our side, but I want that relentlessness. Look what playing nice in 2000 and 2004 got us. Let Obama say the right things. But goddamn, the machine behind him must be ruthless with the facts about McCain, ad after ad after ad, surrogates on the teevee spewing truth from every orifice like a pre-sellout Krusty.

Sorry to ramble on, but another four years of a wingnut puppet ain't a pleasing notion. ;-)

Arkonbey said...

Can't comment except to say:

and maybe a "nicely written" into the bargain.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Thank you for this very compassionate post. I want you to know you made me cry, seriously. At least you get it. Thanks again.

Dean Wormer said...


dean, why do you hate white men? We're great!

I don't hate them. I'm just tired of seeing them everywhere. Give it a rest already.

As for Obama's campaign- I'm really sympathetic to what you're saying with regards to fighting. The other side fights dirty and we're going to need to do that as well if we're going to have any hope of winning.

But I also think that part of the problem - especially in 2004- wasn't as much as the type of response as the timeliness of that response. Kerry allowed that swiftboat crap to sit through several news cycles before he responded. By then it was too late.

From what I've seen of Obama's machine they're at least savvy enough to address this stuff fast.

But playing good defense isn't the same thing as having a good offense. That's what I think you're saying and I'll admit it's something that worries me about Obama as well.




Shucks. Digital hugs.

BAC said...

Dean - thanks for letting me know you posted this. It tells me that you do "get it."

For the record, I think Sen. Clinton will do all the things in your list, and more. I honestly do think she would be a tenacious fighter on behalf of the people so often left at the side of the road.

I've just returned from a Hillary for President event. I had the opportunity to speak with her and to ask her to keep fighting so hard for all of us.

Every time I hear her speak I am more convinced that of the three still standing, she is the best person for the job.


Anonymous said...

Dean, very nice post, thank you. I don't have strong feelings either way between Obama and CLinton; either one will be better than the current occupant of the White House and the Republican nominee. I think you're reply to Randall Graves was insightful. The Dems can't allow the other side to set the agenda as they have in recent elections. I actually think the long Democratic race has been good in that regard. Issues such as Reverend Wright's sermons have been raised earlier than they might otherwise have been and Obama, the likely nominee, has been able to craft a response to them long before McCain and his goons can use them. And news coverage of the election has been devoted almost entirely to the Democratic candidates, whose views are not that far apart on most issues. McCain, on the other hand, can't buy face time on the news. Personally, I almost hope the fight goes to the CPnvention.

enigma4ever said...

excellent post.....and we really do need to heal....and after bush we will have much work to do for many years....

Randal Graves said...

That's exactly what I'm saying. I think Obama himself has been far quicker on the trigger than Kerry was, but the machine behind Obama has do be doing the heavy lifting starting yesterday. Because we all know stuff is coming that'll make the Swift Boat crap look like a tea party. I hope the machine is ready.

Dean Wormer said...


Thanks. Sorry if my post came across like there was only one reason you were supporting Sen. Clinton for the nomination. I know there are a whole heckuva lot of reasons.

If this ends as it appears it's going to I'm profoundly interested in what sort of Senator Hillary Clinton is going to be without the idea of running for president looming over her.

I'm not saying her vote on Kyl Lieberman was politically calculating, but I can't help but wonder if she might have come down differently on that vote if she hadn't just seen John Kerry get savaged for flip flopping in his presidential run. Same for her insistence on standing by her AUMF vote. (Obama doesn't get a pass for me on Kyl Lieberman btw because he chickened out.)

Because in my opinion we need the Senators from blue states (and it doesn't get any bluer than New York) to fight harder for progressive causes than we've seen these last few years.

Again- I stand in awe of all the effort you put into Clinton's campaign. I've said it before and I'll say it again- Hillary Clinton has been well served having supporters like you.


Thanks. Although I'm not as confident as you are in the vetting having taken place with Wright, etc. This is the other side of the previously vetted coin that Clinton was utilizing. I don't think either Obama or Clinton could be vetted enough to face the Republican slime machine.

Because the thing that the 2004 campaign taught me is that it doesn't matter if the Republicans don't have old stuff to slam the democratic candidate over because they can just make shit up and our stupid media will run it through their "he said/ she said" filter and there simply isn't enought time to put a stake in their bullshit before the election.

I do look forward to the focus returning to McCain but I have a sick feeling that once it does I'm going to be banging my head on my desk.


Thanks. I can't think of a better word to describe what we need post-Bush than "healing."


Because we all know stuff is coming that'll make the Swift Boat crap look like a tea party. I hope the machine is ready.

You're so damned right on that. It's going to get ugly.

We have to ask ourselves whether we're willing to swiftboat back on McCain.

I'm not sure I have the moral fortitude for it personally. Or lack thereof. For example I can see slamming McCain for his "cozy" relationship with a lobbyist but when it comes to questioning his service - true swiftboating- I can't bring myself to think that's okay.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

The oly thing about not speaking ill of a fellow Democrat is that Hillary has been doing just that for months and now when it is impossible for her to win the nomination fairly she refuses to get out. It's time for her to go the people have spoken.

Dean Wormer said...

dr. monkey-

Give her time. It's finally starting to sink in that's it's mathematically impossible.

I have no doubt that both Clintons will be campaigning hard for Obama.

I haven't agreed with a lot of her campaign tactics but I just don't see what good it does to harp on that at this point. The race is over.

McCain is the guy we need to work up righteous indignation towards IMO.

BAC said...

Dean Wormer, I think you might have started something. Check this out: His Mothers Dreams


Dean Wormer said...


Thank you for pointing out that link.

That was a really beautiful post that Marsh wrote, especially the letter from Wil. It is something to contemplate this Mother's Day.


Dave The Angry Rhode Islander said...

Talk of healing is such a nice thing to think of. We need that, after all the shit of the last 8 years. If only more Americans could realize that we need to find each other as a common people and stop with the damn divisiveness, we'd be so much better off.

Dr. Zaius said...

The title of you post may be more suited for a post about John McCain, as it refers to the Hundred Years' War.

I always feel bad whenever I say anything bad about Hillary because I fear that I will annoy BAC. She has a good sense of humor, though. Sort of. ;o)

Dean Wormer said...


I really agree with that sentiment. It seems like there's really a small percentage of people that just want to argue, fight and start wars where the vast majority of the people of this planet just want to live life.

Unfortunately that small percentage always winds up in charge.


The title of you post may be more suited for a post about John McCain, as it refers to the Hundred Years' War.

Good point! To be honest this is one of those times when I had trouble coming up with a quote to match the sentiment of the post. I was actually looking for a quote from The Birdcage that would fit since I wrapped the whole thing up by tying back to BACs "we are family" post.

I feel the same way re saying something bad about Hillary. I really want us all to get along when this is over. I've kind of limited myself to throwing crap at all three of them at the same time or only McCain. Thus the bear pics below.

Distributorcap said...

i have always said --- that i never thought in my lifetime (and i am up there with BAC) i would see either an african-american or woman at the head of the ticket

but we will. and i think we will see a woman again be a leading candidate. it just wasnt hillary's time --- for a whole slew of reasons.

like randal said above -- we have to concentrate on ensuring we arent going to a get a third bush term with mccain winning

Dean Wormer said...


It is pretty damn amazing when you think about it.

If you're interested you might check out Chris Bowers' recent post- Wow, We Nominated the Black Guy.