Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Enough Already: Why Can't Clinton and Obama Share the Same Ticket?"

NOTE: This piece appears today, March 9, 2008, in the Sunday (Schenectady) Gazette at:

By Claudia Ricci

Enough already.

The race between Senators Clinton and Obama for the Democratic Presidential nomination has gone on long enough! Each candidate has shown great political strength, and more than enough potential to win at the national level. Each candidate brings a bounty of enthusiastic supporters from historically-underrepresented groups. And each candidate is up against fierce and deeply held prejudices – against blacks and women – come the general election in the fall.

So isn’t it time that we –and most importantly, they, the candidates—take seriously the notion that the two of them run on the same ticket?

As it is, with Clinton’s taking Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island, the race promises to drag on and on. The Republicans have their man and are headed straight for the polls to win the general election. The Dems, meanwhile, keep battling it out state by state, and coming up without a clear winner. More important, we are coming apart at the seams. Nothing short of a superdelegate supermiracle is going to solve this dilemma, and the bitterness, and yes, even, the hatred that will be left behind among the supporters of the defeated Dem isn’t going to do our cause one bit of good.

So why can’t Clinton and Obama run together? I say the simplest explanation? Ego. You don’t run for President without a Grand Canyon-sized personality, and a Mount Everest-sized desire to see yourself sitting in the position of supreme political power. Commander in Chief. Blah blah blah.

But haven’t both candidates campaigned on wanting what’s best for the country? And haven’t both candidates –with Obama’s message far more resonant—said they favor real change, a radical shift in direction, change that opens up the possibility for the United States to move in a new direction?

What, pray tell, could be more dramatic, more likely to set a new direction, than having a black and a woman running on the same ticket?

The dilemma the Dem’s face can be seen right in my own household. My son, who at 18 is already a bit of a political junky, supports Obama whole-heartedly, and his message – change. I too am drawn to Obama’s astonishing appeal, and his supreme rhetorical gifts. Yes, in the end, after a real struggle to decide, I supported him in the New York primary.

But as a middle-aging white woman, I found myself this week rooting for Hillary.
Why? Because I am a middle-aged woman. I am not a guy. On a gut level, I find myself wanting this older woman –who lately has been a decided underdog—to win. I want to stick it right in the face of all those guys (and gals) who pooh pooh the idea that the time is right for a woman to run this country. I want the guys of the world to feel what it’s like not to be so powerful, for a change. I want this because I know first-hand and very painfully, how awful it feels to be a woman who is losing her power as she ages. We women have it tough, because as we age, we by definition no longer are as physically appealing, and our mothering roles lie behind us.

Middle-aged men don’t have the same problems.

Yeah, so, OK, I want Hillary. But part of me also wants Obama.

In the Texas primary, Hilary won thanks in large part to the heavy Latino vote. Now think about that. Here you have a man of color, Obama, who by rights should attract the votes of a people of color. But he didn’t.

So there you go. The complexities of the Democratic side of the race are enormous.

Except, if you put all the complexities together in one ticket – a black and a woman, the Dems, I say, would be unbeatable. And all of my friends agree.

All of us who have felt so left out over the years, politically, living in a country dominated by conservative white men, would rise up and hold hands and stand up and cheer for real change.

My hand is up. I am ready. And I hope somebody out there, today, starts to circulate the petition. Because God knows, I’d be the first one to sign.

Claudia Ricci, Ph.D., was formerly a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Sun-Times. She now teaches journalism, English and creative writing at the University at Albany, SUNY. Her first novel, Dreaming Maples, is available on

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