Remember ghastly Veruca Salt from the 1971 classic film "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?" The spoiled, entitled little thing who wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, at any cost? The "bad egg" who received comeuppance for her hubris when she was dropped down the shoot in the Golden Egg Sorting Room? Since Super Tuesday, the 2008 Clinton campaign has taken on the demanding, aggressive, arrogant, take-no-prisoners approach of a full-on Veruca Salt tantrum. And like Miss Salt, who took her long-suffering "Daddy" down with her in the kiddie classic, Hillary Clinton seems destined to take the Democratic Party along in her slide to ignominy. That is, unless Howard Dean and the Democratic leadership take action soon.
I want the world
I want the whole world
I want to lock it all up in my pocket
It's my bar of chocolate
Give it to me
I want today
I want tomorrow
I want to wear 'em like braids in my hair
And I don't want to share 'em
I want a party with room fulls of laughter
Ten thousand tons of ice cream
And if I don't get the things I am afterI'm going to scream!
I want the works
I want the whole works
Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes
Don't care how
I want it now
Don't care how
I want it now
- From "I Want it Now," performed by the character Veruca Salt
in "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"
Remember when Hillary Clinton was the inevitable candidate--anointed so by media, polls and pundits alike? So convinced was Clinton of her own press that she failed to plan for a primary campaign that lasted beyond Super Tuesday. And that, maybe, was the rub. While Clinton was celebrating her "assured" nomination, the zeitgeist changed. A Democratic electorate weary of war, incompassionate conservatism and the thuggery of the Bush administration, began feeling less like Clintonian centrism and more populist. The word "change" began to be thrown about.
No matter. The Democrats possessed a strong slate of qualified candidates, all of whom mainstream progressives would have gladly voted for. In particular, Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, began to enliven the Democratic base, exciting young voters and others long disenfranchised from the party. Clinton was unbowed though, predicting Dec. 30 on ABC News that the race for the Democratic nomination would be over by Super Tuesday.
But then the unthinkable happened. Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus. And he kept on winning: 29 states and territories (including Democrats abroad) and 1,622 delegates in all, compared to Clinton's 17 states and 1,485 delegates. Now media and pundits are saying there is no reasonable way for Clinton to win. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. And like Roald Dahl's entitled brat Veruca, Hillary Clinton and her campaign threw a tantrum of epic proportions: leveraging the worst kind of identity politics, floating accusations of media bias, engaging in sly and not-so-sly race baiting, trying to stretch and bend party rules to her favor, praising the Republican nominee while denigrating a fellow Dem, and exhibiting an ugliness not generally seen in primary elections between leaders allegedly on the same side.
Don't care howI want it nowDon't care howI want it now
Remember a year ago when everyone was sure there was no way the Democrats could lose the 2008 presidential election? Remember when we Dems sniggered at the Republicans and their lackluster roster of misfit candidates? We're not laughing now. The Democratic base is angry and fractured. Many feminists, rightly angry at sexism in the campaign, inexplicably put the blame on Obama and/or see the election as a tooth-and-claw relay in the oppression Olympics. They vow not to vote for Obama if he is the nominee. Many black Americans are astonished that a candidate, long thought to be a "friend" of the community, would trade on racial tension as a means to win the nomination. And we are even more disappointed that leaders of the party blacks have been so loyal to, are silent as we are maligned. Many of us have vowed not to vote for Hillary Clinton if she is the nominee.
Women are angry at men. Black feminists are mad at white feminists. Older voters are mad at younger voters. Florida and Michigan are mad at everybody. And the Republican nominee for president has been chosen and has already begun his (bumbling) campaign for the White House (Quick--somebody tell John McCain the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite.) How ever did we get here? When I connect the dots, I come back to Hillary Clinton and the Clintonian "win at all costs" ethos.
This isn't new Clinton behavior. (See The Nation's article about Bill and Hillary Clinton's efforts to undermine Howard Dean's role as head of the Democratic National Committee.) And I imagine Hillary Clinton and her enabler, Mark Penn, the poor man's Karl Rove, are pretty sure this behavior will (again) be forgotten. After all, Democratic strategist and Clinton supporter Harold Ickes, when asked about possible disaffection of black voters in this election, said that we'll get over it:
“There will be some hurt feelings initially,” Ickes said. “But in a very tight election, Barack Obama will swing in behind Hillary Clinton and black people will vote for her and she will be able to bring in Hispanic voters also.”Not so fast, Harold. I'm not so sure that the Democratic Party will be okay this time. I'm not so sure the base will fall in line. Plenty of folks, like me, are too appalled at the actions of the Clinton campaign and the acquiescence of the Democratic leadership to do that. Plenty of us are ready to leave a party that is, more and more, appearing a lot like the Republicans we often accuse of being bigoted, selfish, unfair and disinterested in regular people.
I would like to believe that Hillary Clinton, behind Barack Obama in pledged delegates, states won and the popular vote, would concede for the good of her party. But I know that she won't. The Veruca Salt's of the world don't give up like that. So, I am calling on the Democratic leadership to end this. Howard Dean: Speak up about the misbehavior of the Clinton campaign. Superdelegates: Align today behind the Democratic candidate who is ahead--Barack Obama. Let us begin recovering from the dissension created by this campaign. Let us begin uniting again as a party. Let us begin our battle to take the White House.
I am a black woman and a liberal, who is greatly disappointed in the Democratic party. For the first time in my life, I am considering not voting with the party to which I have been loyal since I cast my first vote--for Bill Clinton. I want my party to show that it respects me and people like me. I want my party to show that it is committed to democratic (small d) values and the will of the electorate. I want my party to show that it is better than those Florida voter-purging, election-stealing Republicans that many of us feel so superior to. I want my party to show that we are an inclusive party--not just when it is convenient, but also when trying to appeal to white, working-class voters. I want to know that my party is the party that appeals to people's best interests, not their worst.
And, you know what? I want it NOW!
Sign the "Concede now, Hillary!" petition:
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