Let's just suppose Obama loses to McCain in November. We would then have to look toward 2012 and imagine what we would do then.
This has been the most rancorous, divisive, and irrationally spiteful primary of my political existence (the first one I participated in was 1976 so I do have some political memory). Never have I seen the Democratic party so divided 6 months before a general election.
I do not feel the candidates or their campaigns deserve the primary blame for this turn of events. The hostilities and blows coming from the candidates have been rather unremarkable by historical standards. The primary blame for this state of affairs falls on the supporters themselves - both in the general public and in the media.
I have stated on numerous occasions here that the divisions in this party were not created by these candidates. More likely, these candidates were just particularly strong magnets for certain factions and particularly strong repellents for other factions. The facts that both candidate had such strong numbers of supporters and this primary contest went on so long served to harden the resolve of each camp's members. Particularly in the latter stage of the primary, we have seen how support for each seemed impervious to current events or the campaign efforts of the other candidate.
As you know, I have been a strong Hillary supporter. Right now, in the event of an Obama loss, my natural preferences should lead me to support Senator Clinton again if she decided to run in 2012. But, then I start thinking. Do I want to do this again? Do I want to risk this same fractiousness again? Would I be better off choosing someone who is less of a magnet or a lightening rod?
Many on the Obama side might say, "Well, OK, those feelings might apply to her but not to him." To those who would say that, I will tell you that I believe you are wrong. All of these Clinton voters are not just voting "FOR" Clinton. He has generated substantial opposition along the way. Some of you might think that this would disappear if she were gone. Some of it would, but much of it would not.
In my lifetime, a general election loss has killed the future presidential prospects of a Democratic nominee. The last exception was Adlai Stevenson, but he was running against an unbeatable Eisenhower in 1956 and perhaps relatively few strong Democrats were all that eager to be the sacrificial lamb. I'm not sure this conventional rule would apply to Obama. Based on what I have seen this primary season, I think he could still generate strong primary support and emerge as one of the front runners after the early contests even if he did lose the GE in 2008. I also think the same might apply to Clinton after losing this nomination if Obama loses the 2008 GE.
Let's suppose that is the 2012 set-up and both of these candidates again seek the nomination. Would you be committed to YOUR (Notice I said, YOUR) candidate again? Or, would you prefer to take a serious look at another alternative that might not generate the kinds of feelings we have seen in 2008?
I would like to read your thoughts. But, first let me be emphatic about what I don't want to read and what I believe has no place in this diary:
1) Scorn or snark about the OTHER candidate
2) Remarks like "Well, Obama isn't going to lose in 2008, so this diary is pointless."
Responding to this diary requires that you step outside the partisan, never-give-an-inch soldier persona that you may have adopted throughout this season. If you can't do that, skip this one.