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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Are We A Post Racial, Post Feminist Party?

The pictures from the Democratic Rules Committee hearing were worth a thousand words.

The faces in the room were white and black and many hues in between. They were male and female and fiercely committed - to candidates, to party and to principle. It was good. It was good because everyone knew this was a historic moment that will change our politics and could change our nation. We're serious about this election and the change we're making. There is no apathy in the party. We are mobilized and ready to march. We just need to choose our leaders.

Hillary Clinton doesn't need me to suck up to her and her supporters won't find me useful either. So I figure that leaves me free to speak.

There have been bitter fights in the party before and there will be again. As much as I'd like it to be, I'm not convinced this fight is over. Not until the convention meets in Denver and confirms Senator Obama. The Primaries may be all but over. But the back room arm twisting and potential for a floor fight are a long way from being gone. There are a lot of strong women and men supporting Senator Clinton and they will be heard from. So we'll see how it plays out.

Meanwhile, I sense that our political process and our party has changed forever.

Back in 2000 the GOP Convention was stage managed to present the "Big Tent" view of itself to America. That big tent was supposed to include all Americans. But it still looked like Anita Bryant, The Miss America Pageant and "Up With People" were in charge of the mostly white male dominated process.

Barack Obama And Hillary Clinton have left the Big Tent dusty and empty. Women aren't told much anymore. They know how to keep an eye their own interests and they learned long ago not to depend on anyone else to take care of them.

America's black citizens are in a similar position.

In the Democratic Party, race and gender aren't window dressing. The party is actively struggling with these issues in the most meaningful political ways there could possible be. It's not pretty. But so what?

I just hope that the Tom Tancredo wing of the GOP keeps making it clear that brown people aren't welcome. The hunger for social justice isn't separate from Catholic Faith or the family values that people carry with them from Latin America to the United States. They too will be part of what drives change that matters.

The road to Denver will be difficult. I expect the Rules Committee verdict to be another signal to the Super Delegates that the party wants a final verdict as soon as possible. But that won't settle it entirely. There will be work to do at the convention to make a nomination official and unify the party.

Will the Obama Campaign be forced to go ugly? Will the Clinton camp decide to hold fire or retire from the contest? Possibly. But the issue won't really be decided until the delegates make it official at the Convention. And that's what keeps the door open for Senator Clinton.

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