And so ends the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
After an overwhelming Super Tuesday victory, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has emerged as the winner from a field that once included 10 candidates, but quickly dwindled during a grueling primary schedule that was designed to culminate in the 10 state primaries held on Tuesday across the nation.
National leaders of the Democratic Party wanted a candidate selected quickly so the party could focus on beating President George W. Bush in this fall’s general election.
But isn’t the electoral process about the voters, and not the parties?
Many voters had little time to get to know the candidates over the past 6 weeks, since the late January Iowa caucuses. This benefited Kerry, who won that caucus and rode the wave of free publicity to victory. For those who had been paying attention, their favorite candidate may have dropped from the race weeks before they had a chance to vote. And for citizens in the 21 states that have yet to hold primaries, there is no choice at all.
The United States is becoming more and more polarized, as Republicans and Democrats focus only on winning: At the voting booth, in Congress and in battles over the redrawing of Congressional districts. Issues that really matter, like health care and the economy, are being brushed aside for polarizing social issues like gay marriage, which may be important to a small segment of the population, but is certainly not worth the attention being lavished on it by the media.
Bush and Kerry must focus on these issues as they begin to battle each other for the hearts and minds of this country’s people. Bush begins his advertising campaign today, and Kerry will no doubt step up his attacks on Bush now that he has no credible rivals.
Presidential elections are one of the best opportunities to have a national debate on the state of this country, but it always turns into a name-calling, arrogant and shallow collection of sound bites. We urge the candidates this year to move the discussion forward. We deserve better.