At the beginning of the campaign for a democratic presidential nominee, all of the candidates agreed to not run a campaign based upon negativity and the tearing down of one another. It was supposed to be a new era and a new form of politics. So, what happened? As the Democratic National Convention nears, and we only have two democratic candidates remaining, we seem to be barraged with negativity on a daily basis. The air waves have been filled with everything from NAFTA Gate to allegations of racism related to statements made by Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro to allegations of McCarthyism to Judas betrayal comparisons to insinuations that perhaps one democratic candidate loves their country and has more patriotism and the other does not.
To their credit, the sensationalism surrounding the comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright cannot be attributed to the Clinton camp since they were initiated by right wing conservatives most likely as an attempt to diminish the appeal of what they perceive to be the strongest Democratic candidate. Nevertheless, the question of Senator Obama's patriotism or lack thereof is a tasteless follow up to the baseless ideology that Senator Obama is associated with an anti-American pastor.
There is an old adage that "blood is thicker than water." The notion being, that I will not turn on someone who shares my bloodline to join interests with someone who does not, irrespective of how I feel about the person who shares my bloodline. While we are engaging in the art of infighting, the Republicans are compiling material they will ultimately use as arsenal in the campaign for the general election. John McCain is handling his business, engaging in fundraising and preparing for the primary, while we are engaged in the muck and mire.
Now is time to insist that our candidates stand on their own agenda and the issues that matter to this country. Rather than defending comments and relationships, our candidates should be convincing us that they have the strongest healthcare agenda, economic policy agenda, and foreign policy agenda. We need to know in detail what will be done to bring jobs back to our communities and what will be done to curtail exponentially rising gas prices. We need to know what will be done to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We need to know what will be done to address the crisis in Darfur. We need to know whether affordable childcare will be available to working mothers, especially those working below the living wage standard. We need to know what is the plan to assist the many homeowners affected by the subprime mortgage catastrophy. We need to know whether social security will be available to Americans under the age of forty when they reach the age of retirement. We need to know whether Medicaid and Medicare will be reformed to better accommodate the health needs of older Americans. We need to know what will be done to address injustices within our criminal system of justice. We need to know what will be done to curb increased spending on prison systems to the detriment of education, healthcare and other essential state and federal programs. We need to know what will be done to stop the school to prison pipeline that disproportionately impacts young African American males, creating situations like the Jena Six. We need to know details about how the war in Iraq will end. We need to know how we will deal with the physical and psychological issues that our veterans will have when they return home. We also need to know whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) will be reformed in order to better protect employee benefit packages, retirement funds and pension plans as opposed to the protection it now affords corporate interests, especially insurance companies.
My fellow Democrats, we must keep our eyes on the prize, which is to unseat the current Republican administration and win the election in November. We can not continue to give Republicans ammunition to use against us in the general election. It is a sign of weakness and low self esteem when an individual needs to tear someone else down in order to make others perceive them as a better person than the opponent. Each candidate's position of strength should be based upon his or her own qualifications to perform the daunting task of being the leader of the most powerful country in the world. Martin Luther King Jr. stated that it is only in the dark that we can see the stars. We are in a dark period in our country and it is time for the stars to shine.