The end of the Democratic primary season is within sight. With three primaries remaining in Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota, the race between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton will be decided by which candidate has won the majority of delegates to the Democratic convention. Perhaps those voters in Michigan and Florida, if the party's rule committee can come up with a fair solution, might have some representatives attend the party's convention in Denver. So where do the Democrats go from here?
Clinton has shown she's no quitter and will fight for every last pledged delegate and any superdelegates who are uncommitted. Since 2001, women like me have lived with the prospect that Clinton might one day seek the presidency. Given her name recognition, intelligence, ability to raise money and the party's hunger to win back the White House, many of us waited with bated breath for the last, highest and seemingly unreachable stained-glass ceiling in politics to be shattered. She may not break it, but some of us see the cracks.
Throughout this long and drawn-out campaign season, I have not wasted any opportunity to advocate for Clinton to be given every chance to achieve her goal. I never counted her out, but after June 3, I will count the delegates to see who is ahead and by how much.
There are some media reports suggesting that Clinton is now willing to extend the primary fight beyond the last set of primaries. That's just awful. No matter on which side of the fence Democratic primary voters have decided to stand, a convention battle is not in the party's best interests.
Democrats are eager to win this year, and it's time for the noble warriors who are backing the candidates to take their aim or their political swords and focus on John McCain and his allies. It's time to rally around the nominee as soon as the fourth day of June breaks upon the horizon.
Why not? What would Democrats gain by taking this debate any further, especially when the party is now engaged in the kind of polarizing politics that we once denounced the GOP for using for partisan gain. What can be won by tainting the process, arguing the rules are now unfair, or worse, the Republican rule of winner-takes-all should have guided the Democrats as well? All this fuss is simply about saving face and waiting to see whether some awful thing tarnishes the presumptive nominee. It's shameful, short-sighted, mean-spirited and morally unacceptable. Now, I said it.
To my longstanding friends in the feminist community who have called out the media as being culturally sexist and misogynistic, it is time to help educate the American public about the corrosive impact of sexism in politics and elsewhere. But we can have this dialogue without using divisive language and political tactics that further threaten to divide our country and party. If another woman comes up to me in an airport and suggests Obama should wait his turn, I might scream, "Stop it!" This is not about who should be first, it's about who has the most delegates and who might make the best president of the United States.
The most tragic thing I have heard is this need to link the Obama camp to pundits inside the media who have used the "math" historically used to call an election with attempts to push Hillary out of the race. After all, when the senator held a lead in every national poll in 2007, the media described her groundbreaking campaign as being inevitable. No one called that sexist.
Obama will have earned the right to become the declared Democratic nominee once he has reached the 2,026 delegates he needs. If the party decides to amend the just and known penalty it swore to impose on states and those officials that put its voters in jeopardy of not having a voice at the convention by violating the rules, the adjusted number should not alter the race. Instead, the amendment should allow the presumptive nominee to help bring the party together.
Speaking of unity, it's time that the same means used to stir up passions, donations and volunteer efforts for our all our party's presidential candidates be redirected to help mount a credible offense to elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot this fall. This will require all the party's presidential campaigns to unite in urging their supporters to come together and stop the smear campaigns.
No serious-minded Democratic official is asking Clinton to disappear. They better not. They know how much the party needs her and every one of her supporters back on the field to help push the nominee and the party down the field to victory. Let's face it: Clinton can fire up the base like no one else, except perhaps Bill himself. Besides, she alone has proven that America is ready to vote for a woman for president. If she decides to continue to compete for popular votes and delegates, she has every right to do so. DNC Chairman Howard Dean will not stop the process — nor does he have any right to do so. And that also goes for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will chair the convention in Denver.
Democratic primary voters will need time for reconciliation, and the process needs to start sooner rather than later. Healing takes time.
Both Clinton and Obama agree that once preconditions have been met, speaking to foreign enemies is a necessary first step toward peace. This basic tenet of diplomacy is best practiced by first being able to speak to one's colleagues at home.
At the very least, however difficult, it's a good place to start. Come dawn on the fourth day of June, it will be high time to lay down arms, leaving hands free to pick up the olive branch and unite before going into battle.