Finally, Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic nomination. At the start, he wasn’t expected to win. Hillary Clinton was viewed as the presumptive nominee. She had the Clinton name recognition and a popular former president as husband. This campaign was hers to lose, and short of appealing at Denver, it appears that she needs to officially concede to her rival.
What memories many of us had of Obama at the beginning probably began with his Democratic National Convention speech in 2004, endorsing John Kerry. When Obama decided to run this time, some less educated people taunted his name as it sounded like ‘Osama’, which makes no sense considering the diverse cultures and names in this world. But that’s understandable. Diversity is something which Obama has been exposed to since childhood - more than many Americans.
Others alluded to his family’s Muslim heritage despite him being a Christian, and questioned his loyalty to the flag. An older relative of mine - a registered Republican and retiree - had forwarded me an email saying he was Muslim. And suddenly, everyone knew he was a Christian because of the divisive comments of his now former pastor, Rev Wright.
While watching the protracted battle between the two top Democrat candidates, a question that’s lingered in mind is: While it’s always good to be democratic, how much money ought to be spent in such a campaign? With a treasury bleeding from the Iraq War and an economy hit by rising gasoline prices and a mortgage finance crisis, it is unfortunate that top candidates need to raise and spend so much money to win some voters over. Would donors from Clinton’s base - not the rich but the working-class - feel that their money has been wasted? Perhaps that is partly why Clinton wanted to fight on.
Assuming we all have access to reliable news sources, we can make our own decisions, visit the nearest polling station and cast a vote. But things are not so simple, are they? There’s Fox News, broadsheets which openly declare support of one candidate, misleading polling/caucus instructions resulting in confused voters. So big money still has to be spent travelling from state to state, holding events, placing expensive TV ads and hiring hundreds of staffers.
In a general election, the stakes are simply too high. At the end of the day, who would remember a losing candidate who ran a good race with less money than the winner? Kudos to Mike Huckabee for running a decent campaign on a tight budget, but nobody’s really talking about him anymore.
So it’s more than the financing rules themselves which need to be changed, though at least some have realised the need for change. Admirably, John McCain himself has been a champion of campaign finance reform but I’d like to see how he handles his own situation as the Republican nominee who’s up against a fresh young candidate with a wide financial donor base.
While not an American citizen, I have followed many of the previous US election races with great interest and this one has excited me the most. And it has only just begun. McCain himself is not a run-of-the-mill Republican candidate. For the Republican nomination, I would have preferred McCain over George W Bush 8 years ago, but at that time it was not meant to be.
From a management point of view, the Wall Street Journal has detailed analysis on the faulty decisions that Hillary Clinton made - which eventually contributed to her losing a race that many thought was hers for the taking.
I’d also like to add a social media perspective - on the concept of openness. Some have noticed that the Clinton blog did not publish critical comments - only positive ones. See 2 comments below this CNN article.
WI voter, June 3rd, 2008 11:25 pm ET
Since Sen. Clinton won’t let me post the following comment on her website, I guess I’ll post it here….
Congratulations, Sen. Clinton, on this long and historic race. Thank you for your service and for what you have done to propel women forward.
You asked to hear from us: Please concede the race now that the elections are over and all states and territories have voted and Sen. Obama has reached the required amount of delegates, so that the party, and the country can move forward. We simply cannot afford not to have a Democrat in the White House next January. Please help to unite our country behind Sen. Obama and help us to begin to achieve the great things we both believe that America is capable of.
and another comment:
Jack, June 3rd, 2008 11:25 pm ET
I logged onto hillaryclinton.com, as she asked in her speach, to give my opinion she should drop out. The only option is to send a message of support to her. What’s up with that?
Not that it matters to her anymore, but it does betray an old-school defensive style of campaigning, which no longer works in today’s dynamic and open world. That’s the sense I got from the Clinton campaign - lots of mixed signals as some staffers revealed facts which others then denied, firing of key staff when things went wrong, a husband on the loose and a pollster/PR advisor who served another Government whose interests conflicted with Clinton’s.
Perhaps this is a presumptive statement, but if that’s how the campaign was run - for a candidate everybody thought should have won - would things have been better managed in the White House?
[Update 8/6/08: To be fair, it appears that pro-Clinton comments were not published on the Obama blog/forum as well. Extract:
I am a supporter of senator Clinton and I have posted numerous pro-Clinton comments on this site. My account has been disabled each time I posted a pro-Clinton comment, and so I have been forced to write under varying screen names. If Obama cannot stand a pro-Clinton comment, how can he unite the Dems? We, the Hillcrats, should insist that Hillary be on the ticket. If Obama does not include Clinton we should vote against him. With help from scores of friends, I am putting together a large-scale effort aimed at forcing Obama to have Hillary on the ticket. Team Obama will disable my account soon, so I request you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can network. ]