Sunday Musings 2

As has long been an obvious danger, the decision of the Democratic Party in the United States to adapt its internal democracy to racial arguments is on the verge of getting it into severe trouble.

If neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama win a majority of delegates, including 'superdelegates' by June, they face a fight on the floor of the Denver convention in the summer before they know which of them is to be the Democrat nominee for President. This after spending the better part of half a billion and seeing off many other candidates, and while John McCain cruises to the Republican nomination.

The Democrats decided some time ago to compensate for what was seen as a 'white' bias in their primary and caucus system to advance two contests; one for hispanics, in Nevada, and one for South Carolina, to accomodate what was effectively a black majority primary. This when it is hard to imagine a more liberal Democrat caucus than Iowa.

The Democrats could not displace New Hampshire and Iowa. To do so would have been impossible, and would have caused a split in their party. They did, by adopting this strategy however, have to suppress the desires of other states.

This was because they had deliberately chosen to elevate some identities over others. West Virginia, for instance, for some years was a working class baptist majority primary. Fairly soon, the citizens of the Dakotas will be majority Native American. I suppose a case can be made that Oklahoma is a majority poor white primary.

This sort of obsession with acceptable identities, however--and the exclusion of others--normally gets itself into trouble when widely applied politically. It is all very well for private law and employment matters, but is, I think, poisonous to republics and the sort of quasi-republics that democracies are.

Michigan and Florida, who were trying it on and possibly motivated by a greedy perception of what the benefits of media primary attention are, have been excluded from the Democrat convention. Hillary Clinton won both because, whilst nobody was meant to stand in them--a position other Democrats honoured--she allowed her name to go forward and then said she disapproved out of the side of her mouth. Various pressing state issues and referenda brought the voters out on primary day, and as an afterthought they voted for the one national candidate whose name was on the ballots.

It is the supreme irony that a man of mixed race brought up in Indonesia and Hawaii whose message is that America should move beyond the politics of race and identity might now be excluded from the nomination by an underhand attempt to seat those Michigan and Florida delegates, which is in itself a consequence of a half-cocked system of racial pandering.

The whole thing reminds me of elections in the Holy Roman Empire. Up until Charles V, these provided an Emperor from the Catholic Kings of Europe, and then emperors-elect because the popes refused to ratify the process. The Empire laid claim to be an inheritor of Rome, and a melting pot. It ran riot in the West, destroying the brutal cultures of Central and South America with even greater brutality, sponsored the Spanish Inquisition and even used the fear of Muslim invasion to bully allies and hold the whole ramshackle structure together. Charles, the son of Joanna the Mad, even considered himself religious when he presided over this madhouse, finally resigning to spend his last two years as a monk in a sedan chair in 1556.

Elections became a byword for money and sneaky tactics and inflationary decline and break up were accelerated as the Empire failed to change and as everyone discovered some more satisfying identity than those the centre had corrupted.

Blogland is full of people laying claim to the lessons of history. Here's one. It is a simple point that more states have fallen, and they have fallen periodically in the west, than not as a consequence of deficit, inflation, imperialism, identity confusion and civil fracturing and a mixture of arrogance, corruption and imperialism at the top.

I am sure they all contained well meaning people who were convinced that theirs was the cause of freedom and greatness, and liberation, but really what they served to demonstrate is how easy it is without humility to throw the world away.

I just wish reasonable, worthwhile and sensible people had anything to do with politics rather than incompetent people with a ferocious condemnation for everything they don't have a self righteous excuse for. That is all.


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