Thank goodness for Geraldine. Twice now during critical moments in the primaries when people have questioned things, Ms. Ferraro has been able to step forward and clarify matters. You remember Geraldine Ferraro don’t you? She’s the one who in 1984 and again in 1992 championed the rights of down-trodden Italian Americans, reminding us how very difficult it was to be of Italian ancestry in the United States and the unfair treatment she received when running for public office.
The first important pause in the Democratic primaries occurred before Super Tuesday when people looked up at the scoreboard and saw that Hillary Clinton had a small herd of committed super delegates in her corral, making the nomination process much closer than it would otherwise be. People began questioning a nominating process which fell so far short of being democratic.
It was at this moment — when the “people’s party” was discerned as being less democratic than its rival and being controlled by party insiders — that Geraldine stepped forward to resolve our doubts. She wrote an op ed piece for the New York Times explaining that everything was fine with the process. (In the piece she did not mention that she was working for the Clinton campaign but that surely would not affect matters of such high principle.)
Geraldine wrote that everyone in the Democratic Party was concerned after the disastrous primaries that preceded the 1980 election. It was a mess and resulted in the Democratic Party garnering only 49 electoral votes in the presidential election. Well, Geraldine explained, the party went to work and created a highly efficient and stable machine. A critical part of this assembly was the creation of a mass of super-delegates that represented almost half of the number of delegates necessary for nomination. Geraldine did not go into to detail about precisely how this improved things. Instead she held up the non-contentious primaries preceding the 1984 election as an example of the glittering success of the new machine. You probably don’t remember those primaries; they were certainly non-contentious.
The flower of Geraldine’s new party machine was the election o0f 1984. The machine of which she is so proud offered up as the vice presidential candidate none other than Geraldine herself. With Geraldine on the ticket and the newly minted machine at work, the Democratic Party was able to alter the outcome of the national election, winning 9 electoral votes. Since this new party machine was fashioned the Democratic Party has won 2 presidential elections and lost 4, significantly below its historical winning percentage.
Our next pause in the primary process came recently. Having been persuaded by Geraldine that a super-delegate controlled nomination process was a good thing, people began to wonder why we should even go through with the primaries. Everyone acknowledges that neither Clinton nor Obama will have enough delegates from the primaries and caucuses to win the nomination and that — barring a face plant by Obama — it is impossible for Clinton to catch Obama in the number democratically chosen delegates. Obama will be the popular choice and the selection will be made by the super delegates.
Again, Geraldine to the rescue. Obama is not really the popular choice. His position is the result of privilege, not policy. Bringing to mind the historic “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” Geraldine spoke up for displaced white people everywhere. If Obama were white he wouldn’t have a chance. Nobody would listen to some white guy talking about hope, reconciliation and ending the war. It’s just not fair. (Hillary of course stoically and heroically distanced herself from the statements of her inner circle of advisers.) How can we countenance a poor white waitress like Hillary having to overcome the obvious advantages of a black male in this society? They call this selection process a “race” after all don’t they?