The Race Continues, and Nightmares Abound
The race for the Democratic nomination will continue on. With her wins in Rhode Island, Ohio and Texas last night, Hillary Clinton has narrowed Obama’s lead in delegates to 96 (according to cnn.com). MSNBC cited a poll showing that most Democratic voters actually want the primary elections to continue between Clinton and Obama. It seems their wish has been granted.
However, as the candidates move forward they should tread carefully. Prior to the latest round of primaries and caucuses, Hillary Clinton’s campaign began running the now-notorious “three a.m. phone call” television commercials, which insinuated that Barack Obama would not be capable of handling emergency situations prudently if he were to become president. They play off the already-held belief among some voters that Obama does not have the experience, and therefore does not have the judgment, to take on the country’s highest office, especially during a crisis. This, as we all know, has been the crux of Clinton’s self-marketing over the last few months; namely, that she is “ready to be president on day one” and that Obama is not. The entire ploy seems to be working, and the notion that Clinton has vast, tested experience in executive positions has taken root in many voters’ minds, despite the lack of proof (recently when a handful of her top campaign staffers were asked to name a specific moment in which she was tested in the way she claims to have been, none of them could come up with an answer). But setting aside the question of whether or not Clinton really does possess the experience shes touts, its obvious that she and her campaign have become comfortable with employing a more hostile and fear-based strategy. Last night will likely serve to reinforce their belief in the efficacy of this sort of campaign, and they will continue on to Pennsylvania under the premise that in order to siphon votes away from Obama, they need to scare the general electorate.
Scare tactics and ads playing to the fears of the country are an insult to the intelligence of Democrats and the public in general. They assume that whenever we are given the choice between voting based on an instinctual need for safety and voting based on thoughtful, coherent decisions, our animalistic tendencies will always win. They are saying to us, “we know that you, the common people, are too stupid to understand the intricacies of what we do; so, just trust that if you vote for that other guy, you might have to die, but if you vote for me, you’ll always be able to sleep like a baby.”
Sadly, his wife and her campaign managers have begged to differ with the former president. In their desperation to retake the lead, they have subjected the voters to the same kind of fear-mongering that Bill denounced just four years ago. And, if they do not back off from these tactics, they run the risk of doing serious damage to the Democratic Party and its presidential hopes this November.
If the Clinton campaign continues to demonize Obama in this way, they run the risk of significantly tarnishing his image in the event he becomes the nominee. There are seven weeks until the Pennsylvania primary, more than enough time to cement the irrational belief that Obama is weak on national security into the minds of millions of voters; not just those in PA and the other upcoming states, but throughout the country. If she does not win the nomination, she will have created a perfect target for McCain to exploit against Obama in the general election. She endlessly informs us that her number one priority is that a Democrat (be it her or Obama) is sworn into the Oval Office next year, but her actions seem to betray those claims.