After nearly a decade of disaster under the Bush administration, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done to make our nation great again. So why are some Democrats fighting over who should be first: a black or a woman? Well, here's a novel idea from someone who is both a black and a woman: The needs, interests and priorities of the United States of America should come first.
As a neutral superdelegate who is becoming increasingly frustrated at the campaign's divisive attitude and growing animosity between the Clinton and Obama camps, I don't have a clue what the outcome will be. Nor do I have the power with my one vote to change the trajectory of this race. What I do know is that the tone of this campaign must change or the party will be torn apart — and President McCain will be sending thank-you notes to the Democratic Party.
By every measure, 2008 should be a year of victory for Democrats who have wandered, at times blindly, into the political wilderness trying to find their voice. A voice that should now be strong enough, wise enough and eloquent enough to speak up for those who have been left dazed and speechless by mounting debt, rising food and fuel costs, soaring interest rates on adjustable mortgages, fear of losing their jobs in a recession, and, worst of all, getting sick and being unable to finance their medical care.
In these final weeks of campaigning, each candidate needs to provide a clear vision of how he or she would jumpstart the economy, win the war on terror, prepare our children for a global marketplace, resolve the healthcare crisis and strengthen our country overall.
So why, when Democrats and those who switched to vote in the primary are clearly excited about two equally inspiring and talented candidates, are their surrogates, campaign staff or spouses pulling the rug out from under them? Who called out the circular firing squad?
Clinton supporter and former first female vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro is a prime (though not only) example, tearing into Obama simply because he has managed to transcend the boundary of race with an uplifting message of unity. Some Democrats have succumbed to playing the kind of politics we once uniformly denounced.
"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign — to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," Ferraro told the Daily Breeze, a small newspaper serving the Los Angeles area. "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
Ferraro's statements shocked me and many others not because she gave voice to what so many twisted people still believe — that somehow blacks get ahead simply because they're "lucky" to be black — but because Ferraro had said basically the same thing almost 20 years ago when another black candidate, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, also took the party and country by storm, winning more states and delegates than many thought possible. "If Jesse Jackson were not black," she told The Washington Post in 1988, "he wouldn't be in the race."
Then and now, Ferraro implied that the idea of electing someone who uplifts people is simply foolish and that such a candidate, ipso facto, is undeserving and unqualified. An "absolutely not!" repentant Ferraro resigned as a member of Clinton's finance committee before telling the same California newspaper, "I really think they're attacking me because I'm white."
Shame on you, Ferraro. And shame on others who attempt to stir up hatred and create wedges between groups for political advantage.
Democrats of all stripes and those who wish to embrace a new direction for America still have the time and ability to put aside the politics of personal destruction and celebrate the most electrifying and historic election of our lifetime. But it's up to Clinton and Obama to help end this primary race with a joyful cheer for the eventual nominee. If either candidate truly wishes to lead the Democratic Party, they must show they can keep the party united as they beg, persuade, and even cajole voters in the remaining primaries and caucuses.
If this proves impossible, then perhaps it's time Democratic voters — new and old alike — give that politician the pink slip and vote him or her out of our party.
Donna Brazile is a political commentator on CNN, ABC and NPR, contributing columnist to Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, and former campaign manager for Al Gore.