As many of you know, I got interested in politics in large part because of George Bush's ham-handed way of running the country. Ever since I flipped the switch I have been looking forward to the day when he would finally be out of office.
I'm still looking forward to it, but at the same time I'm concerned about the future.
Let me tell you why. I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know, but I'm going to tell you anyway, because sometimes the things you already know need to be said out loud.
Like most of you, I've been watching the polls as George Bush united America . . . against him. I have been looking forward to the day when the American public, tired of perpetual war, corporate welfare and the relentless destruction of the Constitution, would finally vote his sorry butt out of office. The day when they would look back on the last eight years and vote to never let anything like that happen again for a long, long time.
Now here we are looking at the light at the end of the tunnel, and seeing that it may indeed be the headlights of an oncoming train. We Democrats were supposed to be united around the idea that we could govern the country in a way that would benefit the common man, restore our faith in government, and hopefully roll back some of the excesses and abuses that had been heaped upon us. Instead it looks like we might be headed toward a showdown where the immovable Clintonian object meets the irresistible Obaman force.
Hillary Clinton was supposed to be the Democratic presidential nominee. The narrative of her inevitability had been building for years. She -- and most of us -- didn't figure on that narrative being shattered in the person of one Barack H. Obama, a junior senator from Illinois. He has grabbed national attention by attracting people to his cause like ants to honey. He has managed to not only stay close in the states Clinton won, he leads in states won and he leads in pledged delegates, and he leads in red states and blue. At this point he looks more inevitable than Clinton.
People seem to want change. Right now Hillary Clinton seems to be the candidate of "not much will change." Oh, all other things being equal, I suspect she would be a good President, but she would be a President who has spent enough time in The System to be a creature of it. And people are rejecting The System this year, which is one of the reasons Obama is getting so much support. But there's this about being a creature of The System: You live inside The System long enough, and you begin to learn how it works. Not only that, if you're skillful enough and have enough of what it takes to do so, you can manipulate The System to get it to do what you want. And the Clinton Machine is good at manipulating The System.
So now we have the very real possibility that the Clinton Machine, by manipulating The System, will be able to use the levers of high-level political power to have Hillary Clinton nominated as the Democratic Presidential nominee. Never mind the pledged delegate counts. Never mind the number of states won or the margins they were won by. Never mind the red states that he could flip to blue just by being there and making the people in those states think they matter. Never mind that polls show Barack Obama solidly defeating John McCain in the general election, while Clinton barely squeezes by or, worse, loses. Never mind all the people Obama has drawn into volunteering and donating and working, where Clinton hasn't been able to get the same amount of enthusiasm among new voters. Never mind that the Obama movement can draw along Democratic candidates downticket in numbers the Clinton Machine can only dream of. Never mind that Obama inspires Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike, while the Republicans at least (and some Independents, and yes, even some Democrats) have a visceral dislike of Clinton. Never mind the lesson we will be teaching these political newbies about how you work hard to achieve a desired political result and the rug gets pulled out from under you by People who Know Better. No, that's just collateral damage to make things be the Way Things Are Supposed To Be.
I can't speak for anyone else out there. At the moment I can hardly speak for myself. I can't tell you why I feel so fired up about all this. Maybe it's the Obama Kool-Aid. I don't know for sure. All I can tell you is that if I feel that after pinning my hopes, spending my money and working my tail off for Barack Obama, if I feel that the nomination has been stolen, the fire will go out. For me it will be a vindication that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, you really can't beat The System. I will most likely go back into the apathy I got shaken out of, and other than maybe local races where there's still some chance that I can have an impact, I will most likely stay there.
This isn't the way it was supposed to be.
This was supposed to be about uniting behind a candidate that could once and for all lead us out of the quicksand the nation has been sinking into the past 30 years. And I'm optimistic that it will still be that way. If Hillary Clinton wins more votes and more pledged delegates at the convention than Barack Obama, I will vote for her and be happy to do so. If I feel that the American people have been manipulated out of their choice by the forces of maintaining the Status Quo, I will still vote for Clinton, because the alternative is far worse. But I will do so without enthusiasm, and with the knowledge that the Clinton camp was right. I really don't matter. None of us does. Or as they say, unless you're the lead dog, the view never changes.
I hope that doesn't happen. I like to think that something I do can make a difference. I'd hate to be disabused of that notion.
Cross-posted from Booman Tribune