Someone once asked Will Rogers [above], Cowboy entertainer and humorist, about his political beliefs. Rogers replied that he didn't belong to any organized party, then added, "I'm a Democrat".
Now that joke is eighty, if it's a day. But it still serves as a starting point to understand the current intramural dust up between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama for the party's nomination for President. The two are currently criss-crossing the country, trying to pin down a majority of delegates for this summer's national convention. But it's not that simple. In the Democratic Party, it never is. Under the party's convoluted system, a candidate can have a majority of delegates, but still fall victim to the "superdelegate" vote, from delegates that are committed to no candidate, and thus free to vote for anyone they choose [does this seem like any way to run a political party?].
The sad part about all this is, after eight years of the current Republican administration, it seems likely that anyone who isn't a member of the GOP should have an edge in the general election [especially since presumptive Republican nominee John McCain is previewing a platform that smells suspiciously like "more of the same"]. And yet, the Democrats have chosen an election that should be theirs for the taking to put on a bruising primary series that may lead to unrepairable rifts among the various factions supporting one or another candidate. The differences between Clinton and Obama on the issues are small, so this series of votes is based on trying to select the most "electable" candidate [or, as cynics in the crowd are saying, do Democrats want the opportunity to support the first [potential] female President, or the first [potential] black President? For some in the party, it's a hard choice].
Complicating matters, longtime third-party candidate Ralph Nader, who usually draws off Democratic votes, has entered the race. It's a scenario that seems fraught with disaster for the Democrats.
[Readers of this blog in other countries have the right, I suppose, to feel smug about the whole thing. Most of you are governed under the parliamentary system, where candidates run on a platform determined by the party, and individual personalities have a reduced role. Our system frequently comes off as sensible as the sport we call "football"...
and yet, it seems to work for us]
Being a Democrat, as candor requires me to admit, is a lot like being a fan of the Buffalo Bills football team [not mandatory to admit, but it helps the analogy]; we have big dreams at the start of the season, but usually are out of playoff contention well before the end of the campaign. Maybe it's time to punt...
PS: Please, oh please, oh please DON'T ask me to explain the Electoral College. Like the "infield fly" rule in baseball, NO GOOD AMERICAN can explain it - mr