25 Mar

KUT interview

Today I was interviewed by local Austin public radio station KUT for a feature on the KUT Elections site. This was the first interview I’ve done for Unite the Party, and while I hope I covered the basics there is certainly a lot of depth to this election process that could only be glossed over or which I forgot to mention.

If this is the first time you are visiting the site, here are a few posts you may find interesting:

Comments are not enabled yet, but I welcome your questions or suggestions at feedback@unitetheparty.com. I’m also interested in hearing from people who support both candidates and who would like to cover the campaign or write essays about the candidates on this site.

24 Mar

Hillary stresses party unity

CNN.com reports on comments Hillary made in Pennsylvania today when she responded to a question about whether Democrats can come together after the primaries. She said:

I think we will have a unified Democratic party once we have a nominee, we will go into fall election very committed to taking back the White House. None of the things I talk about will happen if Sen. McCain is elected.

I think that people that who would have voted for either me or Sen. Obama are going to ask themselves, “Wait a minute, there are really big differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.” And let’s have a unified party and elect a Democratic president.

This is not the first time she or Barack Obama have been asked this question, and the answer is always the same. We will be united one way or another, because we have to win. The only question is whether we take the easy way — which is to bring both candidates together, let them lead by example with a joint ticket and let their supporters follow — or whether we risk discouraging half the party and will need to work to rebuild that trust after the nominee is chosen.

21 Mar

Richardson endorses

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico endorsed Obama today, over 2 months after dropping out of the Democratic race. Although previously conflicted about who to endorse, Richardson still had praise for both candidates, saying that while his “affection for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver”, it was time for a new generation. Most importantly, he underscore that we must “stop fighting amongst ourselves” and prepare for the tough fight against McCain.

20 Mar

Grassroots

Earlier this month I wrote about the record donations and turnout during this primary season. Paul Krugman of the New York Times has also pointed to the strong grassroots support of both candidates:

Thanks to Tuesday’s results, the nomination fight will go on to Pennsylvania in April, and probably beyond — and rightly so. It’s now clear that Mrs. Clinton, like Mr. Obama, has strong grass-roots support that cannot be simply brushed aside without alienating voters that the party will badly need in November. So the Democratic National Committee had better get moving on plans to do Michigan and Florida over, to give the eventual nominee the legitimacy he or she needs.

While the news media is generally more interested in things they can quantify, like how large a crowd was for a speech or how much money was given in a month, there are hundreds and thousands of people whose impact is less easy to measure. They take time out of their day to put up signs, call undecided voters, or even travel to another state where they hope to make a difference for their candidate. This is an incredible power and we will want these supporters on our side past the nomination process. With a united Democratic ticket we can keep many of the most passionate volunteers engaged and organized until November.

19 Mar

Florida poll on counting votes

The Miami Herald covers a new Florida poll which shows that voters strongly feel that their votes should count, with 89% wanting delegates at the convention. But while such passion for being part of history is good for the party (1.7 million Democrats voted in Florida), the poll also warns that we must resolve the situation or risk alienating more voters.

Twenty-four percent of Florida Democrats said that if the state doesn’t have a say, they would be less likely to support the Democratic nominee.

The good news is that there is a clear way forward: seat the delegates, either using the existing vote or with a new primary, and unify the ticket with both candidates to ensure that no group of supporters feels cheated by this process.

Exactly half the voters said both candidates should be on the ticket in November, with the loser of the primary as the vice presidential candidate.

18 Mar

Racism and sexism

A month ago, when it became clear that the Democratic nominee and likely next president would be a woman or an African-American, the party was proud and excited about making history. This is what the Democratic Party is about, we told ourselves. Not only would we turn the page on a Republican president bad for this country, we would break down racial and gender barriers as well.

Somehow in the last few weeks, that pride has crumbled, and now we face a conversation in the party that is depressing and distracting. When we should be talking about healthcare, we talk about racism. When we should be talking about the economy, we talk about sexism.

Geraldine Ferraro resigned in anger after making racist comments which Hillary distanced herself from. In a passionate television opinion piece, “Keith Olbermann of MSNBC slammed Hillary”:http://youtube.com/watch?v=qXBXD2zizIY for even letting herself be associated with Ferraro’s comments. He was right that we can’t stand for it if we are to respect our own debate and come together when the primaries are over.

Sadly these divisive comments don’t come from the top, they come from supporters, they come from us. Likewise on the other side, there is an undercurrent of sexism that we shouldn’t be afraid to call out and move beyond. CNN was one of the first news organizations to “cover this issue in a discussion”:http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/15/kaye.ohioracegender/ with voters.

There’s something pretty common in the Democratic primary this year that I like to call the stay-at-home mom syndrome. In truth, it’s sexism, but we are so used to it that it sometimes doesn’t even register as such. Here’s how the argument goes:

“Just because she lived in the White House doesn’t mean Hillary can take credit for the economic successes under Bill Clinton.”

Tracy Jordan, is his own Saturday Night Live response to Tina Fey, fell for this same trap using essentially the same words. It’s disarming because it does two things simultaneously:

* Relegates women to second place.
* Ignores Hillary’s own real accomplishments.

It’s as if you said stay-at-home moms don’t matter because they don’t get paid — as if raising children and taking care of the house or finances is not also real experience to be proud of. To cut to the truth, you have to strip away the accusations and sexist jokes and look at what Hillary has actually taken credit for. Things that she led while First Lady, like pushing for a universal healthcare system, or working with the senate on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or talking with world leaders about opening borders and pressing for human rights.

This site isn’t about whether one candidate is better than another; it’s about praising both. Together we are strong, but to get there we have to leave the racism and sexism by the side and _encourage a campaign of ideas again_.

Obama gave a “major speech today on race”:http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hisownwords, at the same time both acknowledging our differences and urging that we move beyond them:

“We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. We can do that.

“But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

“That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, ‘Not this time.'”

The Democratic Party can make history without tearing anyone down. If you see someone using race or gender as a wedge to divide us, call them on it. Let’s discuss the issues that matter in a productive way, because in 4 years or 8 years or 16 years we want to look back and be proud that we came together when America was weak and made a positive difference.

17 Mar

DFA says fight McCain, not each other

Jim Dean of Democracy for America sent an email to supporters today:

“A long primary battle is healthy as long as we make the case for how we’ll win, not how the other candidate will lose. We need to fight McCain, not each other. Join me in demanding Senators Clinton and Obama keep their eyes on the ball.”

I could not agree more. Supporters of either Democratic candidate can talk about why our favorite should be on the top of the ticket, but let’s do it respectfully and focus on the real goal: winning in November. “Sign the open letter here”:http://www.DemocracyforAmerica.com/OpenLetter.

13 Mar

Post-campaign friendship

One of the questions I get a lot is: can these two candidates come together after the primaries and respect each other? I believe the answer is yes, for two reasons.

First, the rhetoric. Obama says: “I was friends with Hillary Clinton before we started this campaign; I will be friends with Hillary Clinton after this campaign is over.” Hillary says: “I am honored to be here with Barack Obama, I am absolutely honored.”

Second, the history. Hillary actually travelled to Illinois to campaign for Barack Obama when he was running for the U.S. senate, and he and she often co-sponsor each other’s legislation. That history of working together counts for something.

While some of the exchanges between the campaign have seemed rough, it is actually pretty tame compared to what we will see in the general election. The negative ads have been infrequent, and the debates have generally been to draw distinctions on the issues and experience rather than personal attacks.

Both candidates are on record saying they will do what is good for the party. At one time, that simply meant dropping out of the race and endorsing the other candidate. But now, in such a closely fought campaign, it needs to mean something more. After all, it is the supporters who will need the most healing after this is all over.

12 Mar

Mississippi results

Obama won the Mississippi primary yesterday, with especially strong support from African-Americans. According to the “CNN exit poll”:http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/primaries/results/epolls/#MSDEM, a majority of Democrats think that Obama should pick Hillary as his vice-presidential candidate, with a full 63% of those who voted for Obama in the primary supporting such a move. While mainstream media focuses on a party divided by race, these results also reveal that Democrats are ready to come together as a party and that one of the best ways to do that is a joint ticket.

The next primary is over a month from now, April 22nd in Pennsylvania.

11 Mar

Bill Clinton says joint ticket unstoppable

“CNN covers”:http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/03/08/bill-clinton-a-clinton-obama-ticket-would-be-unstoppable/ Bill Clinton’s comments about a joint Hillary-Obama ticket:

“I know that she has always been open to it, because she believes that if you can unite the energy and the new people that he’s brought in and the people in these vast swaths of small town and rural America that she’s carried overwhelmingly, if you had those two things together she thinks it’d be hard to beat.”

One of the things that makes this race pretty interesting is how Hillary consistently carries women and rural voters and Obama wins big with young voters and in cities. This is a strong argument for a joint ticket and will be critical if Democrats hope to compete in some of the traditionally Republican areas of the country.