Feb 12 2016

With Us, or Agin Us

Posted by Steve Ross in activism, elections

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." - President George W. Bush

“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” – President George W. Bush

It was one of the most stunning displays in my lifetime. In a period of heightened emotional distress, just 9 days after the 9/11 attacks. An American President stood before Congress and told America that anyone who didn’t think like he did was an ‘enemy of the state’.

At the time, people didn’t see it that way. So many were ready to lash out after the stunning events a few days earlier, that it became a rallying cry of sorts… A call to patriotism to avenge the deaths of so many innocents.

In our fevered state, perhaps we can be excused for missing that we were being presented with a false dilemma. That dissent, in and of itself, is not unpatriotic, and didn’t necessarily mean the dissenters were turning their backs on the events just 9 days before.

But it was powerful language that launched our nation into a decade and a half of war. War in a failed state that never recovered from Soviet occupation in the 1980’s. War in a dictatorship that, while horrific, served as a hedge against Iranian aspirations. War that left untold thousands of our sons and daughters scarred physically and emotionally. War that left two nations in shambles, and with little expertise or experience in putting themselves back together.

The first 8 years of this millennium were devastating for the world, and set in motion a series of events that we, the people of this nation, of this 3rd rock from the sun, are still recovering from.

Its important that we remember this. That no matter how we feel about the past 7 years; the challenges, the personal loss, the pain we’ve endured… they never would have turned out this way without the 8 years before them.

I think about all of this, as the man who was President for those 8 destructive years plans to begin campaigning for his brother, a brother who seeks to continue this legacy.

False Binary

If this primary has reinforced anything in my thinking, it is that we Democrats are not immune from pushing a false binary such as the many George W. Bush was gifted at presenting to the American people.

The entirety of the GOP platform, including all the sideshows, are predicated on this false binary.

It must be one, or the other.

If you speak out against one, you must be for the other.

There is no third, or any of a litany of other options.

You cannot like both. You must choose, and fight to the death for that choice, no matter how strongly you feel one way or the other.

But this is not a Cold War drama. This is not Game of Thrones. This is how we see our world…as an either/or.

Are we really this short sighted?

Simple Complexity

Several years ago (long enough that I don’t even remember when), I wrote something criticizing a Democratic politician. I’m sure I was disappointed with a vote, or something stupid they said, or some other type thing.

Hours, maybe even days later, I was presented with a series of emails and phone calls asking me why I was attacking ‘our side’? Had I changed my mind? Why not train your anger at the people who would never agree with you?

My belief was questioned. My resolve was belittled. My understanding of the ‘situation here in XXX’ was dismissed.

In one stroke, I had been relegated to a place, in the minds of the people who called me, where years of boosterism, donations, and toil were diminished because I dared do the one thing that politicians, as a general statement, can’t bear…question them.

I may not remember what it was about, but I remember how I felt…It was disheartening.

Paris, France. September 14, 2015. Ta-Nehisi Coates is seen near LiËge Metro Station in Paris, on Monday, September 14, 2015 in Paris, France. Antoine Doyen/AP Images for John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Paris, France. September 14, 2015. Ta-Nehisi Coates is seen near LiËge Metro Station in Paris, on Monday, September 14, 2015 in Paris, France. Antoine Doyen/AP Images for John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

So earlier this week, when I saw that Ta-Nehisi Coates was voting for Bernie Sanders despite a quite public disagreement with the Senator on reparations I felt like maybe something would start to change.

It reminded me that we don’t have to follow blindly. That we can have differences and still support each other.

It reminded me that, even in our world of drilling things down to the lowest common denominator, we can admire someone we don’t completely 100 percent agree with. We can support the greater good, even if that good isn’t as great as we’d like it to be, or as we imagine it could be.

Mostly, it reminded me that we are all different, and have different priorities. We see the world in different ways, and visualize different paths to often similar goals. It reminded me that we don’t have to resort to mindless rigidity to show support. That dissent is a tool to change what we don’t like so we can hopefully, get more of what we do like.

Democrats, as we continue through this nominating process, we need to remember what the real goal is. Its not burning down Bernie, or hollowing our Hillary. Both have more similarities than differences.

We must continue to rebuild what was nearly lost in the first 8 years of this century.

We must fight for justice: in our economy, our opportunities, and our courts.

We must stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

We must honor the sacrifice of those who gave themselves in the service of our country, and whose sacrifice has too often been forgotten when the photographers leave.

We must rebuild what has been destroyed or left to decay, from our institutions and infrastructure to our communities to ensure we all can be safe and live and grow freely.

These are just some of the prizes we must keep our eye on as we continue over the coming months.

These are things that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to do, each in their own way.

We can personally choose one way as preferable to the other without vilifying or demeaning the other. The truth is, we don’t know which one will work better. We can never know.

But we can pick a side without destroying the other.

In fact, we’re duty bound to do just that. Because the other side will stop at nothing to make sure neither wins in November.

Come the convention, there will be a winner and a loser. Its my hope that in our fever to select our preferred candidate, we don’t destroy the one left to stand up for us in the fall.

It doesn’t have to be ‘With us, or against us”, because Democrats, we’re all the same ‘us’.

Feb 10 2016

Say you want a revolution….

Results via Washington Post

Results via Washington Post

As of this writing, which began at 4am, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has won the New Hampshire Democratic primary by nearly 22%.

That’s a pretty big accomplishment for a campaign that was declared ‘too radical’ just a few months ago.

And while I know that New Hampshire isn’t exactly ‘reflective of American diversity’ as so many Clinton supporters have pointed out in the past 24 hours, and that it’s right next door to Vermont, its still a big win for a campaign that has eschewed some of the more unsavory elements of national campaigning.

So kudos to Team Sanders. You’re 10 days from the Nevada Caucus, 17 days from South Carolina, and 20 days from Super Tuesday, which will be a real hard test of the mettle of the campaign.

Electability, Concern Trolling, and the Perpetual Outrage Machine

The past week has featured a lot of bullshit in the media…concerning both the Clinton and the Sanders camps. Story after story from the punditocracy, a term I first heard from media critic, Eric Alterman about the Sanders electability gap and trouble in the Clinton Camp.

Remember people, its early. Two states have voted.

Media folks, for profit bloggers, and commentators aren’t necessarily in the game for altruistic reasons. They make money peddling this stuff, and the more money they make, the more likely they are to keep their job.

I’m not saying all the commentariat is full of shit, but there’s a lot of brown eyeballs out there who are writing for the specific purpose of revving up the perpetual outrage machine.

Outrage, after all, is the currency of the digital age.

Reality Check

Lets get serious, and talk about something that’s related to the Presidential contest, but that’s not about the top two Democratic contenders.

Partisan Composition of the US House

Partisan Composition of the US House

Democrats need to flip 30 seats in the US House and 4 seats in the Senate to really get anything done.

As sexy as Presidential politics are, without more Democrats on the Hill in Washington, any Democratic President will be hamstrung by Congress, and that includes potentially nominating 4 justices on the US Supreme Court.

Iowa only has 1 Democrat in its delegation to Washington. 1 of 6. This year, 5 of those six seats are up for grabs, including one Senate seat against longtime Senator Chuck Grassley.

For either Democratic Presidential candidate to be successful if they’re elected, they’ll need more than 1 from Iowa.

New Hampshire has 4 members of Congress, 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans (One of each in each house of Congress). First term Senator Kelly Ayotte is up for re-election this time around. Nabbing that seat will be crucial for any Democratic president in the coming years.

My point. The President isn’t king (or queen as the case may be). They need people that will help their agenda get through the legislative branch. That has been the single biggest issue President Obama has faced since 2010. No real progress will be made without gaining seats in the House, winning the Senate, and making gains in state legislative races (which I’ll talk about in another post).

So while its sexy to talk about the Presidential race, as the primary contests continue, folks who have had their time in the voting booth need to either follow their respective campaigns on to other states, or look for a local candidate that will be running for House, Senate, State Legislature, or Governor. Because that’s where Democrats have been getting their asses kicked since 2010.

Refocusing After the Primary

Partisan Composition of the US Senate

Partisan Composition of the US Senate

Over the next 20 days, 13 states will have Democratic primaries. Some of those states, like Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas will also have primaries for US House and Senate at the same time.

Regardless of who wins the nomination, or the upcoming Presidential primaries, its going to be critically important that those volunteers from the Clinton and Sanders camps refocus their energies to those local races…helping them get the word out about the candidates, and using their experience to propel them to Washington.

You don’t have to completely abandon the Presidential contests, but you should try to make contact with the people running for these seats, and get involved in some way, if you really want to change the country.

Because neither Hillary or Bernie can do it by themselves. They need a team. And the people who would be on that team, need a team too.

The most discouraging thing I see every four years is a huge base of volunteers that show up for the Presidential contests, who then disappear for four years, which leaves us high and dry in the off years.

Democrats can have the whole pie if we decide to focus on it, rather than just the prettiest piece.

Now a word to those who would run

So, you want to be a candidate for US Senate, US House, your State Legislature, or some other political subdivision? Here’s some free advice. Pay attention to the activists in the party (from both the Clinton and Sanders camps).

You’re going to need these people. They are plugged in and want to change the country.

But its not on them to find you (even though I just told them to). Its on you to find them.

That means you have to have a message that will draw them to you (you know, not some bullshit political speak). And you have to build a machine to identify them, and keep them when they come.

You may not have the ‘fuck it, I’m saying what I want’ charisma that Sanders has, or the political instincts and connections the Clintons have, but by virtue of being the nominee, you have a voice.

Use it.

Don’t hide your campaign away until Labor Day then expect people to give a fuck about you when the Presidential campaign really heats up. Get ’em now, while they’re hot.

Go meet with leaders of the Sanders and Clinton camps in your district before the primary. Make contact. It doesn’t matter who you’re voting for.

Talk to them about your vision for the country, and the people you are serving, or hope to serve.

Listen to them about their concerns, and what’s important to them. You will win more hearts by listening (the hardest thing for a politician to do ever), showing empathy, and talking about how you will support the candidates proposals.

You don’t have to be on board with the gory details of every idea, but don’t hedge…be authentic. People respect that more than base pandering…which is the currency of too many politicians.

Then go back to your team and use this intel in a way that will bring some of this energy to your campaign. Because the way so many contests are stacked against Democrats, you’re going to need all the help you can get.

But do it now. Campaigns are about people, money and time, and you can get more people and money, but time is against you. Use all of it wisely.

Going Forward

As I said in my last post, we’ve got two strong candidates that are building strong networks of volunteers. They’re not spouting the crazy that has been the currency of the GOP candidates. They’re both offering real solutions, in their own ways.

If you want those solutions to have a chance of coming to fruition, you have to be willing to work for it. That work begins with these primaries, continues with the local elections, and, quite frankly, never ends. Even after you get a Democratic President, and majorities in the House and Senate, you’re still going to have to work your ass off to get the things done you want done.

Elections aren’t the end of the political cycle, they’re the beginning.

Its a reality Democrats forget about every time.

You say you want a revolution?

If we, as Democrats, both Clinton and Sanders supporters, are really going to make it “Alright”, we have to focus our energies on the things that will move the ball forward, and not fall into a circular firing squad, or worse, become the thing we’re fighting against.

Feb 02 2016

An Embarrassment of Riches

Posted by Steve Ross in elections, National Politics

Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders

What happened last night in Iowa was interesting and historic. For the first time in history, a woman has won the Iowa Caucus.

That win is somewhat muted by the strong showing by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who some say could transform Democratic politics.

I think its a little early to call that, but it was a close contest.

One of the most interesting stories about this campaign is that a septuagenarian is igniting a base of young voters while Clinton, the front runner despite the close contest, is relying on more seasoned voters (I won’t say older because I’m becoming one of those ‘older’ voters).

And because these two groups are different in many ways, and have experienced the world differently, there’s friction. But this is as it always has, and always will be.

Establishment vs. Activist

For as long as I’ve been active in politics (either observing or working with groups) there have been two factions of the Democratic Party: “establishment class” and the “activist class” (you could say the same thing about the GOP, but I’m not talking about them).

The establishment class is made up of people who, quite honestly, look more like me today. They’re older. They’ve been involved longer, and they have scars to prove it. Some of those scars run deep. When you poke those scars, they hurt, and can cause some snippyness.

The activist class is usually younger. What they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm and passion. They may be focused on a single issue, or they may be generalists, like I was. They’re looking for certainty in a world that rarely delivers. Threatening that certainty can cause a lot of that passion to take a dark turn.

While its not true in every case, in most cases, these two groups are either the past or the future of each other. The establishment class likely once had that youthful enthusiasm of the activist class. The activist class will eventually become the establishment…a group who will then be railed against as ‘uninspiring’ or ‘sell outs’ by their children and grandchildren.

They are, whether they like it or not, variants of each other, trapped in parallel universes, separated by time.

The Healthy Debate

Since 2008 I have advocated for robust primary challenges at all levels of government. I believe that in order for elected officials to prove their worth they must have a worthy opponent to question them. And then if the voters decide they are unworthy, the voters don’t have to make a Faustian bargain come November.

At the same time, I recognize that election contests of all kinds can be nasty. People have an emotional attachment to their preferred candidate, and that emotion can spill over into personal attacks against people who, in other circumstances, would be on their side.

I’ve engaged in those attacks before, in my younger life. And while there’s no question there is a value to drawing distinctions between candidates, making it personal isn’t a good thing. It isn’t healthy. Whoever wins the nomination will need all of us in November. And while I’m not calling on people to be ‘pragmatic’ now, I hope that cooler heads will prevail by then.

Politics is about engagement and relationships. Sides can flip on a dime. You will find that your enemy today may be your ally tomorrow. Its important not to damage that relationship so badly that you find yourself without that ally. Because I can tell you from first hand experience, its very cold once you’ve crossed the line.

Must there really be only one?

Must there really be only one?

Its also important to not use the opposition’s lines (i.e. GOP talking points) against your opponent. We’ll get enough of that after the nomination is done. If its Sanders, it will be that he’s a Socialist. If its Clinton, it will be one of 1000 red herrings or tin foil hat theories the GOP has cooked up since the 90’s.

Keep it about the issues. Respect opposing views the way you expect your views to be respected. This isn’t Highlander, the loser doesn’t have to die, or be mortally wounded.

Be Proud of What’s Happening Here

I was born 2 years before Nixon resigned. My formative years were spent in the Reagan era, filled with fears of Russian nuclear war, and a ton of economic policies that set up the gutting of the American middle class.

Now, nearly 36 years since Reagan’s 1980 victory, and the ugliness of the Southern Strategy that helped bring us to where we are today, we have a candidate in Hillary Clinton, who spent many of those same years as First Lady of Arkansas, advocating for children and women, who were more often than not, the victims of those destructive policies…. policies that continue to this day. She bears the scars of that fight, way back when. That record is why older voters like her. They remember how she fought, and believe that she will fight that way again.

On the other side, we have a candidate in Bernie Sanders who wants to change the way things work. Sanders is not content to allow things to be the way we remember them always being. Sanders has been fighting too. He fought his way into office in Burlington, VT, and he’s been fighting ever since. Fighting that conventional wisdom. Fighting lowered expectations.

There are contrasts between the two. There’s no question about it. There are differences in policy, for certain. But both Hillary and Bernie have been fighting, in many ways, the same fight for nearly a half century.

That’s something supporters on both sides should recognize going forward.

As we head into the New Hampshire primary, and the contests that follow, one candidate will likely pull ahead, and the other will likely fall behind. In the process, someone’s going to be disappointed.

I won’t try to divine which will be on which side of the wins/losses column, but I know this like I know my name is Steve Ross, whoever ends up with the nomination will need all of us to come together in late summer to lift them to victory in the fall. We will need the enthusiasm and passion of the ‘activists’ and the experience of the ‘establishment’.

No Democrat has ever won in my lifetime without both. I suspect this time will be no different.

So unless you want a President Trump, or Rubio, or God forbid, Cruz, I hope you’ll think about the larger picture before you get into a flame war with that Hillary supporter, or pooh-pooh that Sanders supporter. We need each other to keep from losing the little bit of ground we’ve been able to eke out this past 8 years.

Remember, we’re family. We have more in common than we have differences. We don’t have to be mean to draw distinctions, and drawing those distinctions isn’t mean. Its politics.

Dec 19 2015

Breach and Overreach

Posted by Steve Ross in National Politics

Clinton and Sanders at the 1st Democratic debate

Clinton and Sanders at the 1st Democratic debate

Finally some drama in the race for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination!

Thursday night it was revealed that the Bernie Sanders campaign viewed and possibly downloaded proprietary information from the Clinton campaign for about 40 minutes.

This happened due to a mistake in an update pushed by DNC data vendor NGP Van.

Sanders’ access to the web-based software was suspended for a day, until he sued in Federal court and the DNC finally relented.

There’s been a lot of hoopla about this, some of it real, some manufactured, but there are really just a couple of critical points that are brought us to where we are today. So, in an effort to focus on what’s real and what’s conjecture, here’s the list.

NGP dropped the ball

NGP, the vendor the DNC uses to manage and support its voter list admitted to pushing a flawed software update. That update allowed campaigns to access each others data. While the issue was dealt with fairly quickly, but for the flawed update, the Sanders campaign never would have been able to access the data, and none of this would have even been a possibility.

I’m not sure about the details of the contract between the DNC and NGP, but if I had a vendor make such a critical error, I would definitely have some words for them. I would also be reviewing the contract to find out what kind of recourse is available, if any, and most likely write recourse into any subsequent contract with the company.

In our data driven world, the security of proprietary data is paramount. NGP is tasked with maintaining that security and should have to suffer consequences when they fail at their own hand.

Breach vs Access

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

The media, as well as the DNC, has characterized this as a ‘breach’ of data. I think that overstates what actually happened.

Sanders’ campaign was able to access Clinton’s data housed on NGP servers.

Breach, meaning ‘a hole or opening in something (such as a wall) made by breaking through it’ gives the impression that the Sanders camp hacked into something or intentionally set out to gain access in a fraudulent manner.

While they should not have accessed the data, that they had access doesn’t constitute a ‘data breach’ on their part, akin to a hack or some other mischievous activity.

Having access is a breach of contract on the part of the vendor. A campaign accessing unauthorized data is a breach of contract, on the part of the Sanders campaign. But the use of the word ‘breach’ as in a ‘hack’ is either intentionally misleading or just plain ignorant and lazy, depending on how tightly you’re wearing your tin foil hat.

Breach is certainly a more damning word than access and download, which, to my understanding of the situation, is what actually happened.

The Clinton campaign’s contention that the data was ‘stolen’ is just using the situation to a political advantage…which is unfortunate, but pretty par for the course.

Unethical Behavior

Sanders’ former data director, Josh Uretsky acted unethically when he directed four people in the campaign to access Clinton’s data.

Uretsky has been subsequently fired by the Sanders camp, and rightfully so.

Uretsky previously stated they looked at the Clinton data to ‘prove to the DNC that their data had been breached’.

But this isn’t the way to handle a problem. Rather than rooting around in Clinton’s data, Uretsky could have simply called NGP or the DNC or both, to report the issue and issued a halt on data work until the issue was resolved.

Had Uretsky acted in this way, he would have kept the Sanders campaign safe from the 24 hour bar that kept them from their voter file.

Buggy but powerful

I’ve been a VAN user off and on since 2008. In fact, the VAN is the tool Dr. Joe Weinberg and I used to identify the over 3000 voters who got incorrect ballots in the 2012 Shelby County primary election.

I can tell you that over the years I’ve been able to see other campaign’s data profiles from time to time, though I never intentionally accessed it nor attempted to.

In one instance I found that after logging in and running some searches, the results of which were inconsistent with the kind of search I was trying to perform, I discovered that I was in someone else’s profile. I’m not sure how it happened, but I quickly logged out and then back in, checked to make sure I was correctly in my profile, and went about my business. While I know my way around, I would never intentionally access someone else’s stuff, if for no other reason than fear of accidentally breaking something.

This highlights both the power and the potential pitfalls of such a massive integrated system. This instance may have an element of intention, in that the data director instructed people to use their unauthorized access, but people need to understand that access to other people’s data is not as uncommon as NGP would like you to believe.

Crime and Punishment

I believe a 24 hour hold on the Sanders campaign’s access to the VAN is an appropriate response to the use of unauthorized access that the campaign admits happened.

However, there are some problems with the DNC response:

First, the DNC really let NGP off the hook with their response. There has been no public rebuke of NGP for their failure to adequately secure data, mistake or not. In the high stakes world of the national nominating process, NGP’s failure to ensure the safety of client data should be a huge concern for all involved. That the DNC basically gave NGP a pass is troubling.

Second, the Sanders campaign did the right thing in firing the manager who ordered the unauthorized searches. But instead of the DNC acknowledging this correct response, they have used this to impugn the Sanders campaign in total. That’s just not fair. I don’t know when the dude got fired. I don’t know all the folks involved. But I do know that getting rid of someone who acts unethically is the correct response.

Finally, one has to wonder why this issue was brought into the public in the first place as well as who brought it out and for what purpose. This is an important question because no one, except for the Clinton campaign, looks good in this situation. Which has led some to opine that the DNC itself leaked the story. I won’t get into all of the details, but in another time, this never would have made it to the media, it would have been dealt with quietly and with the firing of people (which happened by the way). Why and for what purpose it became a national story is suspect.

Everybody Looks Dumb

I don’t think this materially changes the likely result of the Democratic primary contest. Not having access for one day doesn’t permanently cripple the Sanders campaign. But everybody looks dumb in this situation, and that could have a lasting effect on people’s willingness to come together after the nominee is decided…which is likely just three months away.

NGP and the DNC look dumb for making a federal case out of something that could have been dealt with in house. The DNC’s ham handed response is both unfortunate and self-defeating. People feel passionate about their candidates, and in the wake of the DNC’s actions, some people may feel that the DNC isn’t behaving as an unbiased arbiter of the nominating process. That’s not going to be good for the convention, and could lead to problems in November.

The Sanders campaign looks dumb, though not for their immediate response to the problem. They did the right thing in firing Uretsky, but their subsequent response overstates the harm to the campaign, and understates the unethical behavior committed that led to the hold on their account.

The Clinton campaign looks a little dumb for further escalating the situation by saying the data was ‘stolen’. Statements like that make it appear that the data is now gone. It isn’t, and there’s no evidence at this point that the Sanders campaign used the results of any data accessed for nefarious purposes. On the other hand I’m glad the Clinton campaign called for a speedy resolution of Sanders’ access. Surely they realize it doesn’t make them look good for people to feel like they’re piling on the little guy.

Finally, I hope this won’t be turned into a debate topic tonight. We don’t need the precious few debates that are scheduled this season to devolve into the kinds of shit shows that have been the hallmark of the GOP debates. Let’s stick to the top-line issues, not the inside baseball.

The American public, as a general statement, doesn’t give a damn about this, and they shouldn’t. Hopefully, the candidates will agree to stick to the issues that really matter. A discussion of this doesn’t help create jobs or opportunity, or highlight anyone’s vision for the future of our country. Honestly, all it does is sew division in our ranks, which is exactly what we don’t need going forward.

May 30 2008


Posted by Steve Ross in 2008 Presidentials

I know I keep saying that I won’t write about this anymore, and if you don’t want to read it, then just stop now.

The more I watch the mess that is playing out in the Democratic Presidential nomination, the more transfixed I am by the terrifying slow motion apocalypse that is happening before our eyes. The ever shifting “win”. The attempts at pacifying through praise. The ever-lengthening display of surrogate after surrogate paraded across the stage, pleading the case of a candidate who has obviously thrown everything from finances to self-worth into what is quickly becoming a tragic loss. If there is has ever, on such a public stage, been performed a more thorough example of a Greek Tragedy, I do not know what it is. This is the most public, drawn out, and heart wrenching personal and political meltdown in the history of modern politics.

I’m watching this display of desperation, and trying to identify, both emotionally and intellectually, with both sides.

On the Obama side, this has to be the best preparation for dealing with the diplomatic madness that is Iran and North Korea that any Presidential candidate could possibly experience. Unfortunately for them, they are not dealing with a despot. They are dealing with a person who shares many of their same beliefs. They are dealing with a person who has held massive sway in the party that they both claim. It’s an impossible situation for the Obama camp. They have to do everything in their power to pacify, all the while trying to hold on to their momentum through the convention. That no one on their side has publicly lost their temper is a testimony to their discipline.

On the Clinton side, they see a candidate that had her mantle, the hopes and dreams of literally millions of Americans, stolen by a man they see as unfit to govern. Further, they see a candidate who represents the long hard fight of a generation of women. A promise, stolen once again, by a system stacked against them. There is no way to do this kind of anger and disappointment justice. It is an anger, thrust on a candidate (Obama) who just happened to be in the way.

The Clinton campaign has traveled the breadth of emotions over the past several months. From the early inevitability, to the stunning defeats in Iowa, S. Carolina, and Super Tuesday, to the desperate, yet slipping clutch on reality that they have today. I cannot imagine what she, and her most fervent supporters are going through, but I know the anger is real. Hillary and her supporters have chased the ever-changing promise of victory as bait, from worms and crickets to floaters and spinners. They have gladly altered their diet to suit the needs of the campaign, and each time, their dinner has been snatched away from them by a campaign that was better organized and funded. Now they are hungry, and angry, and disoriented, and any food will do (with maps from Karl Rove & Co. on page 5, nice touch).

The Clinton camp sent out letters to all the Super (or automatic) delegates. That letter can be read here. As she argues that the “will of the people should not be overturned by Superdelegates” she is pleading with supers to overturn the will of the people. It’s a classic “win by any means, even if they compete against each other” strategy that illustrates the depth of desperation.

No matter what happens on Saturday, Clinton’s supporters will not be satisfied. Satisfaction only comes from ultimate victory…a victory that is fleeting with nearly all the best-case scenarios. The question is, what will happen from there.

Back in January, I, and many other Edwards as well as Clinton supporters, accused the Obama campaign of being a cult of personality, a phase that would pass and garner no traction in the larger campaign. I was certain that Obama would suffer, as Howard Dean had before him, from something that would mortally wound his campaign, giving the nomination to someone else. I was right, just about the wrong candidate.

Hillary’s supporters have taken the early ugliness put forth by some of the less savory supporters of Obama and taken it to a level that I have not seen in any nominating process in my life. They have chosen to make this so personal, to the possible detriment of the party and it’s eventual nominee, to see their victory through. It is the Clinton campaign that is the cult of personality, intent on her victory at the expense of all else, whether it be shifting the metric for winning or blindly swinging to hopefully land the blow that will cripple the Obama campaign and ensure their success.

The endgame will not come on Saturday, or Sunday, or the Tuesday after. The endgame will not come for the fervent supporters of Hillary Clinton (as opposed to the Democratic party) until she is declared the winner of all. There is no concession that will be enough to satisfy them. There is no other solution, in their view. She must win.

The onus now falls on the candidate. Can she divorce herself of her ambition, in the face of a nearly impossible situation, to unite the party behind it’s eventual nominee…not her. That’s really the only question left. The answer will most certainly be long and tortured, it will be fraught with anger and dismay, it may or may not come quickly, but eventually, reality will sink in, and the public meltdown that was the 2008 Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign will have to come to an end.

That end may not be quick or pretty. There are a lot of different ways that end can play out. Some that take us well past the convention, and into the realm of another broken promise…that she will support the Democratic nominee. My biggest hope is that the nominating process doesn’t end like the 2006 Senate race in Connecticut with two “Democrats” on the general election ballot. The end result, in this instance, will be 4 more years of Republicans in the White House.