Leading article: Time for the Democrats to rally around Mr Obama

Share
Related Topics

The epic contest for the Democratic presidential nomination looks as though it is at last winding down. With his convincing victory in North Carolina and the narrowest of defeats of Indiana, Barack Obama finally appears unbeatable. Mrs Clinton, whose fighting spirit has been one of her greatest assets through this protracted campaign, would be wise to call it a day.

We say this with some regret. It has been a thrilling ride and, for those of us watching from abroad, a veritable primer in US politics and geography. Mrs Clinton has gone from being the nominee to beat, with a war-chest as inexhaustible as her contacts book, to defiant underdog, and ultimately to doughty pugilist on an equal footing with her younger rival.

Battle-hardened and resilient, she campaigned best when the pressure was greatest. If her run is reaching its end, she cannot be accused of faintheartedness, or lacking capability for the job. As the first truly plausible female candidate to run a presidential campaign, Mrs Clinton has shown that, for the right candidate, what is indisputably the world's top job is within reach.

Probably, she was not the right candidate. Too much political baggage came with her brilliant, but flawed, husband. And two Clintons after two Bushes may have had too much of the dynasty about it for voters' comfort. However competent she appeared, there were also unanswered questions about exactly who she was and what she stood for. After eight disastrous years of George Bush, Americans seem in no mood for that sort of gamble.

Mrs Clinton's defeat, of course, is Barack Obama's victory. His rise, from a standing start as a young, relatively untried, black Senator, has been at once remarkable and inspiring. Hard work, unbounded energy, a rhetorical gift and a sense that there was everything to gain and nothing to lose doubtless contributed to his success. But it was the total package of thorough-going change that clearly appealed to American Democrats.

The post-Bush mood is clearly for a fresh start, and no one personifies a new America more than he does. The party rank and file have shown they will take the risk of nominating a young black senator for President. It is this sense of adventure, this willingness to give promise a go, that is one of America's most enviable traits.

Much has been made of the damage so long and divisive a contest has inflicted on the Democrats' presidential prospects. Assuming he is nominated, Mr Obama will need to spend much time courting opponents within the party. Mrs Clinton will need to put the party's interest above her own ambition. We doubt that she would, or should, accept an invitation to be his running-mate, even if it were extended. But his choice will say much about the sort of president he wants to be.

For all the drawbacks of this long and bitter campaign, however, it may not have been entirely negative. It has tested both candidates, but especially the younger man, in a way that was absolutely necessary. Barack Obama has matured as a candidate before our eyes. He has demonstrated that he can cope with reverses; he can adjust his register; he can present his case. He has shown, too, that he has thought through one of his country's most deep-rooted and enduring problems – summed up in the single word, race.

It is time for the Democrats to bury their differences and prepare to do battle with John McCain, the Republican who will be their opponent in November. With youth pitted against age, and promise against experience, we look forward to another absorbing contest. And, whatever the outcome, Mr Obama will be an infinitely better candidate for the trials he has endured along the way.

For rolling comment on the US election visit: independent.co.uk/campaign08

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam