Democrats’ Grand Changing Of The Guard

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[Election 2008]

If the Democratic Convention represented the passing of the torch to a new generation, to outsiders, and to a new post-racial world, watching it was like standing under the flame as it changed hands.

I will always remember the stage hands carting away the convention paraphernalia after it was over, taking away the chairs, folding up the tables, dismantling the screens, and taking down the displays.

I sat in the now abandoned Fox News skybox and watched as a convention hall was returned to a basketball court. Alone, with the cameras gone cold and the strobe lights off, I watched as the old Democratic Party was packed up and stowed away.

The Clinton era was over. The division of America based on race was packed up with the used banners and the discarded signs. The idea that only those who have paid their dues by spending decades in Washington can run or serve went away as the lights got turned off one by one.

Whether or not Obama wins – and my bet is that he will – his primary victory and his takeover of the Democratic Party already represents one of the most important transformations in American politics.

It’s like it was in 1964 when ultra right wing conservative Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona wrestled the Republican Party away from its liberal eastern establishment wing by defeating New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller for the GOP nomination.

Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in the fall, but his successor and soul-mate Ronald Reagan didn’t lose and served two terms, transforming the Republican Party and America. Or it’s like 1972 when the first apostle of the anti-Vietnam War movement, George McGovern, defeated the old school liberal Hubert Humphrey for the Democratic nomination. Nixon beat McGovern, but the antiwar movement went on to elect a president twenty years later when one of McGovern’s campaign staffers, Bill Clinton, won.

Whether Obama wins or loses, the transformation of a political party, and perhaps of the nation, has begun.




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