February 8, 2008
Watching Barack Obama’s national political ascendancy since 2004 has been both moving and personal. That same year, several colleagues and I started WeCount.org, a federal political action committee advocating the power of coalition building amongst the nation’s moderates and its left flank. It seemed clear to us that, to drive Bush and Cheney, et al. from office and return sanity to Washington, we needed to avoid a recurrence of 2000’s splintered vote on the left.
Ours was a vision that transcended the heightened partisan rancor by building a grand coalition thereby ushering in a new era where progressives, liberals, moderates, and even willing conservatives could all sit at the same table and work together under Kerry’s leadership to move us forward. The key was everyone having a seat at the table. Alas it was not to be.
Four years later, Obama is the embodiment of our 2004 advocacy. Indeed, he has risen to power by employing a style of governance that brings disparate factions to the table. This was evidenced early on when he became president of the Harvard Law Review only by procuring conservatives’ support. On Super Tuesday, he proved his ability to capture the imagination of battleground and so-called red states by virtually running the table there. I cannot say how many comments I have read online the past few weeks by Republicans who support Obama’s presidential bid.
Yet, with all the evidence that Obama is the stronger general election candidate, the Democratic Party finds itself paralyzed. While almost half the party, bolstered by independents and some Republicans, encourages its generally older half to join it in believing in this new way, the other half remains nostalgic, seemingly incapable of looking beyond what once was.
As the Democratic convention draws nearer, and the party’s paralysis no closer to being cured, the spotlight increasingly turns to its superdelegates. Will the supers hold on to what feels old and familiar or choose a new way and embrace the future? Like it or not, they, like Obama, have become our great hope.