West Virginia Democratic Primary

Posted by Katherine | May 13, 2008 – 10:31 am

It seems that a Clinton victory in West Virginia today may be a foregone conclusion. In a completely unscientific survey, there are certainly more Hillary signs than Obama signs in this picture from Shepherdstown, WV, taken by Marylander Pang Tubhirun (hat tip to Misa Dayson):

Clinton and Obama supporters in WV
[pangalang / Flickr]

It looks like the picture was taken at a Clinton campaign stop, though, so maybe the message is that Obama supporters are out there fighting valiantly.

Atticus, writing in a Gather post found by James Mills, stands behind that Obama camp. His open letter to West Virginians asks them to vote for Obama for the good of the country; Atticus believes Clinton would make a good president but that Obama has what it takes to “change the fundamental nature of the political debate in America”:

I am talking about the re-invigoration of American democracy following one of the darkest periods of dishonesty in the political discourse of this nation. Throughout history when forces necessitate a break with the past, someone answers that call demanding transformative leadership. […] What is required from a transformational leader is vision and empowerment. All the talk of experience of the candidates means nothing if that candidate cannot tap into the tremendous thirst for a new America, a fair America, an honest America, reaching into the future for our world. This election cannot be just about correcting the course of this nation it must be about fulfilling its destiny. That is what I believe the candidacy of Barack Obama inspires. We as democrats are uniquely poised in history to change the course of world events for the good on the brink of its darkest hour.

Atticus also feels that a Clinton victory in West Virginia would be “pyrrhic” both for her and for the Democratic party, which needs to focus on unity.

“Average American” Dave Gill in California takes the more cynical view that racism will make the West Virginia vote “less than meaningless in terms of the important issues that face this nation today.” He hasn’t seen racism in West Virginia first-hand, but he believes his daughter has (thanks, James Mills):

What can one think of a state that has recently tolerated pictures of lynchings on the walls of its rural bars? […]

In the early nineties, my daughter drove from Boston to West Virginia on several occasions for her employer. She told me that she saw that type of picture in the one and only bar she went into. She said “that was enough” for her.

Not long before that, my son-in-law married a girl from West Virginia. He told my wife and I that he had seen pictures of lynchings on the walls of the local bars in the area where his in-laws lived. […]

It doesn’t matters whether this type of situation continues to exist, and I certainly don’t know that it does. The point is that any society that tolerated such displays, even in the recent past, is a racially bigoted society.

Whether Gill’s assessment is fair or not, racism does seem to have been an ugly undercurrent in recent primaries.


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