Sunday, March 16, 2008

Democrat Disagreements Becoming Disputatious?

It is as obvious as the sunrise that many Republicans and Democrats do not enjoy discussing/debating/arguing political subjects with each other. (Others, of course, do. So be it.) But in this Newsweek article, The Deep Blue Divide, found here and written by Julia Baird, it appears that Democrats who support Hillary Clinton and other Democrats who support Barack Obama are experiencing growing tension between themselves.

Here is a part of the article:

For the past five years, a group of friends, mostly military wives or retired government workers, have been meeting for lunch at an Italian restaurant called Amici's in a strip mall in Stafford, Va. All Democrats, they don't come just for the wood-fired pizza or $8.99 lunch buffet. They come to talk about their beloved party. But lately, the air has chilled in the Tuscan-themed room.

At the lunch after Clinton's loss in Virginia, Alicia Knight, 49, a Hillary supporter, came in late. The only spare chair was between two Obama supporters, both old friends of Knight's. "I was so angry, I didn't want to sit between them, so I sat by myself at another table," she says. "It's become like the cold war: in order to maintain the relationship, you don't talk to each other." Recently, the Clinton and Obama groups began lunching separately. "We couldn't take the bashing, the smirkiness of the Obama fans," says Linda Berkoff, 63.

It's unclear exactly when the primaries stopped being a joyous occasion for the Democrats. But as the weeks have ground on, the intensity between Democrats who disagree has calcified, the vitriol grown fiercer. According to exit polling in the Texas primary, 91 percent of Clinton supporters said they would be dissatisfied with Obama as the nominee; 87 percent of Obama fans said they would be dissatisfied with Clinton. Nationally, a quarter of those who back Clinton say they'd vote for John McCain if Obama won the nomination (while just 10 percent of Obama supporters would do the same if he lost).

For many Democrats, what started out as a glowing opportunity for a historic presidency has become a depressing display of division and anger trumping reason. Because the policy differences between Clinton and Obama are minor, the debate is not about substance; it's been mainly about character and identity in a contest between a black man and a white woman. Historians insist that intraparty bitterness is nothing new. But growing anger about perceived racism and sexism is souring what was once excitement among Democrats about an embarrassment of riches. Now many are embarrassed that the party which prides itself on diversity is battling its own prejudices. Unaffiliated Democratic strategist Donna Brazile believes it has become "a brewing internal civil war."

The interesting thing about this (to me) is that the Republicans had far more potential to splinter into acrimonious camps. But now that McCain has become the nominee, most of us (me included) have reached agreement that he is now the best hope and the preferred remaining candidate in the race. And so we civilly rally around our candidate.

Will the Democrats do the same once one of them is the nominee?

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