Sunday, March 04, 2007

A welcome contest

Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) were both in Selma, Alabama for ceremonies commemorating "Bloody Sunday," the day 42 years ago when Alabama State Police and sheriff's deputies attacked a group of demonstrators marching to demand the vote for black citizens, an event that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The presence of the two senators--they spoke at black churches three blocks apart--symbolizes the fight between them for black votes in Democratic primaries. (I do not mean to count out other candidates from appealing to the black vote, too.)

Some have suggested that Sen. Obama should naturally expect to pull in black voters, because he is one of them. I disagree.

Although your editor supports Sen. Obama, this contest is a good thing. It is good for Barack Obama, because it will help to make him a candidate who is black (African-American if you prefer), rather than a black candidate. It is good for Hillary Clinton, because it will make her think more about what representing all Americans really means. It is good for the Democratic Party, because a real contest--one that focuses on issues, not on silly political games like the one played last week over David Geffen's remarks--will strengthen the party for 2008.

And most of all, it is good for the nation, because it is a sign that the ideas behind the civil rights movement--particularly the importance of democracy--remain vital today.

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