Stop the Campaign!
It's Over—We Just Don't Know Who Won
Back in 2007, the Democratic Party looked good!
Remember? Edwards, Clinton , Richardson , Obama, Gravel, Kucinich, Biden, Dodd. Remember the whole gaggle of 'em, standing at those debate podia? Remember how they talked about the future of America, about restoration of our democracy, about ideas and direction? Remember? Remember how they mostly supported and endorsed each other, and lambasted Bush?
Such political talent, competence, leadership and intelligence they exhibited. Remember? Oh, sure Mike Gravel was a bit irascible; maybe Kucinich was a little over the top at times—and we could certainly see differences between the candidates. But what I saw above all was how much closer they all are to the America I love than what we've had for seven years.
Well, all of that greatness is only a memory. Unfortunately it's a memory that many Americans don't have, because many weren't yet paying much attention. Today, there is an audience. And today, the Democrats—and America —don't look as good. Today it all looks irrelevant, petty, bigoted and divisive. Ugly.
Neither Hillary nor Barack is less of a person or less of a leader than they were three months ago. They just look like less—significantly less. And all the rest of that talent hasn't fallen off the earth. They're all still Americans and still Democrats. Think about it. If either Clinton or Obama becomes our President next January, all of those other Democrats, and many more will be available for the leadership team. But we're not seeing that tremendous strength today. What we are seeing is discouraging and disappointing.
I fear that if we don't change this course, America may well elect another player from that same Republican team that has been holding our nation hostage. And I'm not sure our democracy can survive that. So this is no small matter.
I think Hillary and Oback have today a rare opportunity, and a moral and patriotic obligation to take us back to that moment of vision we saw before Iowa and New Hampshire .
Barack & Hillary Wait With Us to Learn the Winner
They start by admitting that what they're doing right now isn't likely to secure the nomination for either of them. The race is too close to call. Obama has a significant but not prohibitive lead. Barring some volcanic event, we're probably going to sort of drift to a narrow Obama victory on the first ballot at the national convention. And with a volcanic event, we'll drift to a narrow Clinton first ballot victory. The volcanic event? If it happens, it's likely to be something that no one is anticipating today, and something that neither campaign engineers. In other words, one of these two will win, but they can only wait with the rest of us to learn which one.
So I have an idea.
Hillary! Barack! Listen up!
Stop the primary campaign. It's over. Let's have no more campaigning until one of you faces off against McCain in August. Oh, you can continue to make appearances in the states that still have primaries and caucuses, but no more debates, and no more trying to gain position on the other candidate.
Instead, let's have a conversation about the future of America . Remember what you were doing last August and September? Renew it. Have a series of TV events like this: Picture a big round table with the two of you, joined by say, John Edwards and Joe Biden. Let's have a moderator—since it's a round table, how about Charlie Rose? Talk for an hour in prime time, about the America you want to see after the Neo-Cons are gone. Have conversations, not debates—about health care, fiscal policy, civil liberties, etc. All of you put all of your best ideas on the table. Then say stuff like, "That's a good idea, Barack, but suppose we also did this... " Discuss. You remember how to do that don't you? Sure you do.
Have several of these events. Include all of the candidates who initially ran. Include some other prominent and well respected Democrats. Invite McCain and another prominent Republican to one of them. (Don't worry; they won't show.) Get a few of the most respected journalists and commentators in America to take turns moderating. Charlie Rose, maybe Bob Schieffer, Christiane Amanpour , Bill Moyers—even a conservative, if you can find one that is still respected.
The moderator isn't there to ask question, or to steer the discussion, just to keep the lid on, and perhaps suggest a topic once in a while. He or she may not actually have much to do.
You don't need a lot of rules: No one can dominate the time. You talk to each other, not to the audience (if you choose to have a live audience). You are respectful.
You get the idea. I don't have to expand on it any further.
This Will Decide Our Next President
But I have one last thought: If you do this, or something very much like it, one of you will be our next President, and will have the best opportunity any American leader has had in decades to take our nation to a better place. If you keep doing what you have been doing for the past few weeks, John McCain will be our next President; he will be as deep in the grip of the Neo-Conservatives as Bush has been, and by the end of his administration, our nation may have become something that no American wants to see.