Two historic candidates
Here’s the big problem though. It’s all very well bring out
millions of extra voters, but it’s only beneficial if these voters
check the right box in November. In the past nomination fights have
generally been over after a small proportion of the scheduled contests,
preventing a divide opening up in the party. Those contests that were
settled at the convention might appear to have been very divisive, but
they were divisive largely only among a small elite within the party.
The divide that has opened up this time is between literally millions
of Democrats. That’s not a divide with historical precedent, and it’s
not a divide that’s going to heal anytime soon.
The prolonged primary season has racheted up the tensions between two
groups of supporters. In fielding two historic candidates the
Democratic Party should not be surprised that they have generated
intense and passionate support. The problem is that both camps have
become very attached to the historic nature of the candidates – the
first serious female contender and the first serious African American
contender – and deeply resent the fact that one of these candidacies
will not succeed. No wonder then that the accusations of sexism and
racism have flown in the last few months.
Democratic Party has put itself in a situation where one viable
historic candidacy will not be given the nomination. As a result, many
Clinton supporters feel a deep sense of betrayal. This dramatic
YouTube clip aptly demonstrates the huge challenge facing Barack Obama
in reuniting his party in time for November. The strength of feeling
brought out by months of campaigning isn’t going to be redirected in a
hurry. The primary season might be (almost) over, but the Democrats
still have a big problem to solve.