Sunday, March 9, 2008
Clinton and Obama Have Responsibilities to the Party
Once a candidate has accepted tens of millions of dollars from contributors and, more importantly, garnered enough support and won enough primaries and caucuses to push other competitors out, that candidate has passed a fail-safe point: they now have incurred a moral responsibility to the members of their party to do what they must in order to win the election. Their feelings about things, their own longer-term plans and ambitions, their sense of their own worth, all of those things now must be put aside in favor of following through and winning the battle as the champion of those who have lent their support. The sovereign voter is an independent party in an election, with their own rights and entitlements. It is not merely a question of what is best for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, or for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. The over-riding question is, what is best for the voters who want a Democrat in the White House? It's true that there are those who want to elect a specific individual (the first black, the first woman), and those voters may not feel a sense of responsibility to the Democratic Party. You can vote for anyone you want, for whatever reason you want, that's the very meaning of democracy: you're the boss of your own vote. But the candidates themselves have long since passed the point where it is improper to put their own preferences first. The battle is joined, and Clinton and Obama have appointed themselves, by dint of their efforts thus far, the Democratic champions. They now must do what is necessary for Party victory, whatever the cost to themselves. I'm talking about the ticket. When I read that Clinton says that she will fight on to the bitter end, or Obama says that he will never accept the VP spot, they both offend me. I don't care any more about what they want, about their idealizations about how things ought to go. I'm expecting them to cooperate to win the general election, and any willful decision that detracts from that I take as a betrayal. The ticket has to be Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton. They have more time to fight over which, but the clock is ticking, and I am impatient with their feelings and ambitions.