Sometimes two unprecedented movements cannot survive at the same time. One has to precede the other. The Civil Rights Movement paved the way for other humanitarian movements around the world – including the ending of apartheid in South Africa.
Back in 2008 political history was made in the United States. For the first time ever, a woman and an African American were in position to be a major political party’s candidate for President of the United States.
What’s interesting is that some people recognized the magnitude of the battle between Hilary Clinton and Barrack Obama at the time, but many did not. For the first time since this country declared its independence in 1776, a woman and an African American were in position to be a major political party’s candidate for President of the United States.
That was profound. I am guilty as well. I watched the battle unfold and almost missed the magnitude of it until it was over. Using a “David versus Goliath” analogy wouldn’t be out of line because the Obama movement did exactly what Sen. Bernie Sanders tried to do this election cycle – derail the Clinton machine.
The unprecedented nature of Obama v. Clinton was the political opportunity that proved the success of Civil Rights Movement. Well, let’s take it back even further – it was what black folk and Abolitionists had been fighting for since the Emancipation Proclamation.
Again, sometimes two powerful movements cannot coexist. Hillary Clinton was the right woman, but at the wrong time in 2008.
It was Obama’s time to challenge the hearts of Americans. It was his time to test the waters and see if this country was ready to live up to it’s founding creed that all men are created equal. The race between Senator John McCain and Obama was essentially for more than the presidency of the United States – it was a race that would forever change politics in America.
Hillary Clinton would have challenged the establishment in the same way Obama did in 2008. No woman had come close to being a major party’s nominee for President. Fast forward to 2016 and Clinton is back in position to become the Democratic Party nominee.
But much like 2008 when many assumed that Clinton would cruise to the nomination, there was one major obstacle – Senator Bernie Sanders. And no – he’s no Barrack Obama, but he proved to be the real deal. His progressive movement took a hold and although Clinton is the Democratic nominee for President, Sanders will continue to play a role in shaping policy.
Again, in 2008 Clinton simply ran into an immovable force. That force was the message of change and hope. That force energized young folks who have never voted before and re-enegerized those who have felt disenfranchised for years.
Obama was the figurehead, but was his message that won so many people over. All it takes is to look at any of the rallies he held. From Oregon to Iowa, he packed arenas. He did extremely well with his base of well-educated, affluent voters, minorities, and the younger generation.
At least three out of the four groups would have been Clinton supporters if not for Obama, with affluent voters being a possible exception.
Fast forward to 2016, and it is crystal clear that Clinton learned from her mistakes from eight years ago. The biggest of those was the fact that she underestimated Obama early on. She assumed that she would run away with the nomination and before she knew it she had been punched in the mouth (figuratively), and didn’t quite know what to do next.
By the time she realized that Obama was real, his machine was fine-tuned and well organized. From fundraising to grassroots fieldwork, he out-organized her, and his people were much more passionate.
It almost sounds like Déjà vu in many ways. Sanders and his supporters are passionate and dogged in their approach to pushing a progressive agenda.
Speaking at this week’s Democratic National Convention, Sanders said, “It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That is what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about.”
He added, “But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”
For those who thought that the Sanders speech would be like the fake out endorsement that Ted Cruz gave Donald Trump at the Republican convention, the Vermont Senator was direct and to the point. “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight,” closed Sanders.
For Democrats, now the party just has to unite and turn out voters in order to beat The Donald and make history by electing the first female president of the United States.
Signing off from Philadelphia, PA.,