There's been a great deal of loose talk lately about who Democrats will and won't vote for. We have more new people registered to vote than we've seen in a generation, and they're Democrats almost 2 to 1; and yet, the word is that if "their candidate" isn't the eventual Democratic nominee, they won't vote at all. Or they'll vote for McCain. "Hillary's voters" can't possibly vote for Barack Obama. "Obama voters" will never vote for Clinton.
I'm sorry - this is childish. Of both groups. The goal here is to put the Presidency of the United States, and as much of the Congress as possible, in the hands of the Democratic Party, thereby removing it from the hands of the Republican Party which has done so much appalling damage over the last 7 years. And if the Democratic Party can hang together, they can do this; Democratic turnout in every primary has been more than twice the Republican vote.
The problem, of course, is that for the first time in U.S. history, a major political party has two candidates who are both minorities: a black man and a white woman. (I still find it bizarre that women, who constitute just over 50% of the population, are considered a "minority", but let's not get into that just now.) This provides endless opportunities for mud-slinging: if you vote for Obama, it's because you hate women. If you vote for Hillary, it's because you're a racist. And it's regrettably possible that both of these accusations are true in some cases: America's bigots (few of whom have only one prejudice) have been given a rare opportunity to decide out whom they dislike the most.
Both candidates have more to offer than the "first". Both candidates are intelligent, talented, and determined people. Despite Senator Clinton's insistance on her "experience", they actually have about the same amount of national experience: a few terms in the Senate. As Mrs. Clinton, she may well have been in the White House when momentous decisions were made; but I'm sorry, I don't count pillow talk with Bill as "experience in government," and the only time she actually tried a major project (health care reform), she blew it. She appears to have learned from the experience, but don't give me any guff about her foreign policy expertise. She doesn't have any more than Obama does. In both cases we are banking not on experience, but on native ability and smarts.
The symbolism of "the first" is causing the trouble. We can elect "the first woman president" or "the first black president" - but we can't elect both. The zealots on both sides are determined that their "first" shall be the one, to the point that they're demonizing the other "first" as a mortal threat. Materially assisted by Senator Clinton's strongly negative campaign, I might add; it's true that I support Senator Obama, but I believe it to be an objective fact that she has slung more mud than he has.
What really worries me is the possibility that the people who can't bring themselves to vote for the "wrong first" will end up causing the election of the first 71-year-old President. And we bloody well will be in Iraq for 100 years.