efore I say this, I want to make it clear that I'm in earnest. I tend to be a smartass, but today I mean exactly what I'm about to say.
I'm highly partisan in the presidential nominating process. I strongly favor Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, for a lot of good reasons that I'll lay out if pressed to do so. Suffice it to say for now that there are very meaningful policy and temperamental differences between the two. But those differences pale by comparison to the differences between the two alternative futures we have to choose from in November.
We can choose at least the possibility of abandoning the catastrophic neoconservative agenda of the Bush years, by electing the Democrat. Or we can embrace the Bush program by electing his heir and single remaining cheerleader, John McCain. It boggles my mind that the latter choice is even on the table, but there it is.
I feel rather strongly that another dance with the neocons is the last thing this beleaguered society needs, and that it is essential that the Democrats somehow find a way not to screw this up. But the Democrats apparently have seen the cliff, heard its mesmerizing siren song, and seem bound and determined to drive the bus, Thelma and Louise style
, off into the canyon once again.
As I understand it, there is no known scenario by which Hillary Clinton can smack together enough pledged delegates to win the nomination before the convention. Barack Obama would have to win the Pennsylvania primary to do it, and that seems not to be in the cards. So we're headed for a scenario where the Superdelegates make the decision. These are mostly the party elite, and the elite have tended to lean Hillary's way -- she of the Democrats' royal family. If this is the outcome, they will have frustrated the will of the majority of primary voters and pledged delegates, an extremely risky undertaking.
If they break Obama's way, they alienate a powerful fundraising machine and neutralize a charismatic former President who, a year ago, was anticipated to be one of the Democrats' principal weapons in the general election. (Actually, that gun's already effectively spiked; Bill Clinton's just not likely to be that credible an advocate for Obama, having said the things he's said about Barack during the primaries.)
I think I have a better idea. Rather than waste several months' effort and funds on unproductive infighting between the remaining Democratic contenders, only to see it end demoralizingly in an old-fashioned brokered convention anyway, I offer a more Solomonic
solution. I do NOT mean settling on a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket -- which would be an absurd-looking pushme-pullyou
in any case.I propose that they just flip a coin.
There would be no crisis of recriminations among Democrats, if the matter were simply entrusted to luck instead of the whimsy of the Superdelegates. You can't second-guess heads or tails. It is what it is. That's why the advantage in something as monumental as the Super Bowl is decided this way each year.
I propose flying the captains of the two campaigns up to Detroit, for a globally televised meeting on the 50 yard line of the Pontiac SuperDome. (This would give Michigan an opportunity to regain a stake in the nominating process without undertaking an expensive and complex do-over primary. As for Florida...screw Florida. Democrats never win there anyway.)
Let the principals shake hands and commit themselves to abide by the result of the toss. Give the coin -- an ordinary half-dollar, chosen at random from a bag of half-dollars by a Deloitte auditor -- to someone of excellent reputation: Lee Hamilton or George Mitchell, say, ideally someone uncommitted to either candidate. Let Hillary, as the underdog delegatewise, call it in the air.
One toss, no double-or-nothing. Let the world see it as it happens. Let the candidates accept the outcome with grace and dignity, shake hands, and get on with the work of defeating the Republicans instead of eviscerating one another.
I'm open to suggestions as to why this solution is inferior to collective self-immolation on the way to a cacophonous clown show in Denver. Thoughts?.
Labels: Barack Obama, election, Hillary Clinton, primary