By Ardain IsmaCSMS Magazine Staff WriterDespite Hillary Clinton’s win in Nevada Saturday night, the race for the Democratic Party nomination is far from being decided, and the results are a raw proof to this fact. Clinton and Obama still remain in a close race by all political analyses. Hillary won a narrow victory in caucuses, taking 51 percent of the county delegates elected at nearly 1,000 precinct-level caucuses while Obama walked away with 45 percent. Former senator John Edwards finished a distant third, receiving only 4 percent of the county delegates. Edwards poor showing has sent his candidacy into serious doubt—failing to master the 15 percent threshold required to receive delegates. While Hillary won the popular vote, it is Obama who will most like to win a majority of delegates in the next Democratic National Convention. Because of the geographic distribution of the vote, Obama won every county in the state except one—Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, and accounts for 70 percent of the statewide vote. Obama defeated Clinton among rural, small-town and upscale suburban voters, but lost decisively in urban working-class areas, except in a few largely African American working-class precincts in Las Vegas. Going in to the caucuses, the Clinton campaign became infuriated after the Culinary Workers Union, which endorsed Obama, created special provisions to allow casino workers to attend caucuses on the job. In a major twist, union members went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent these caucuses from taking place. This was a strong repudiation for the union leadership. In the end, Clinton did not have to make any force, for she won seven of the nine casino caucuses, and 268 of the county delegates chosen at these meetings, compared to 224 for Obama.
Playing the race card
No one can ignore the media manipulation in electoral politic in the United States. This was so true in the days preceding the caucuses in Nevada, where the mainstream media centered around a supposedly racial polarization in the voting, citing exit polls that showed Clinton winning Hispanic voters by 64-27 percent and white voters by 51-38 percent, while Obama won among black voters 83-14 percent. Georges Stephanopulos, the self proclaimed the godfather of political analyst, claimed on ABC News that if such a pattern holds in the February 5 “Super Tuesday” primaries in California, Arizona, Colorado, New York and New Jersey, all states with large numbers of Hispanic voters, Clinton would win a decisive victory. This is dejà vu all over again. In reactionary politic, using race as a political diversion to camouflage the real issues facing working people in the United States is nothing new. Playing the race card is a vexing move to deviate American voters’ minds from the real issues facing the US society: the deepening crisis of US economy, the growth of social inequality, mounting attacks on democratic rights, and the escalation of US militarism in Iraq and more widely in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Obama: Losing steam or off the track?
In the last debate before the Nevada vote, Obama practically dropped his criticism of Hillary Clinton for her vote to authorize the war in Iraq, and agreed with Clinton and Edwards that US troops would remain in or around Iraq for the indefinite future. Many observers believe this attitude falls in line with bourgeois politic—at odds with popular sentiments that clearly understand just like in 2004, the process has been hijacked by the ruling elite to make sure that there is no room for popular agenda within the two bourgeois parties. If Obama differs from Clinton, it is not because of a political platform bent on upholding the status quo at all cost. On economic and social issues, the Illinois senator is considered by many to be to the right of Clinton, not to her left. While Obama is deep in his dream of creating a surreal society where rich and poor can coexist in perfect harmony and live happily ever after, the Clinton teams has seized the advantage of that by focusing largely on the economy. As Patrick Martin puts it, “[Hillary’s] vote was at least in part a reflection—distorted as it is by the reactionary framework of bourgeois politics—of the growth of popular anxiety over jobs, declining real wages, and widespread bankruptcies and home foreclosures, the last of which is particularly acute in the Las Vegas area.” Obama further damaged his own chances when he declared that “former President Ronald Reagan as a figure who transformed American politics and turned the Republican Party into “the party of ideas” for more than a decade.” He made the damaging remarks during an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal. “While the supposedly vast popularity of Reagan is an article of faith in the political establishment and the corporate-controlled media, the truth is that the Reagan administration was hated by broad sections of the working class, and it still is by those who lived through it,” reaffirmed Martin in an article on the WS site. Clinton had a field day after those remarks by repeatedly attacking Obama’s comment in the days leading up to the caucus. “I don’t think it’s a better idea to privatize Social Security,” she said in one appearance at a Las Vegas print-shop. “I don’t think it’s a better idea to try to eliminate the minimum wage.” Obama consistently focuses on troop withdrawal from Iraq while repeatedly stresses the need to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan. This is a hollow rhetoric that holds no sway. If the logic behind the troop withdrawal in Iraq is based on the premise that American soldiers are wrongfully being put in harms way, what makes this logic different in Afghanistan? Just like in Iraq, the war is as ugly for US soldiers, as dangerous and as un-winnable militarily as in Afghanistan, now the Taliban is back stronger than ever by all military analyses. The problem for Obama, he can’t reveal the true nature of both crusades: Iraq and Afghanistan. It is all about grabbing oil, oil, and oil. Just like a subjugation of Iraq would ensure for an indefinite period America’s dominance over oil in the middle east, a pacified Afghanistan would pave the way for the realization of a long American interest in reshaping the new silk road in Central Asia, where a decisive battle is being waged between Russia, China and the US/Europe for the control of vast oil reserves around the Caspian sea. The vote for Obama in both Iowa and in New Hampshire should have been sufficed to teach him that the American people—across racial lines—are hungry for a new direction, not for the shallow change being preached by the Illinois senator. But already feeling beholden to big business interests funding his campaign and avoided by some intimidated African American leaders, the thin blue line over which he is being walking may be broken sooner or later, rendering his message of change paralyzed, sterile or even doomed before Super Tuesday. Also see Is Barack Obama unstoppable after his stunning victory in Iowa last week? Note: Dr. Ardain Isma is a novelist and chief editor for CSMS Magazine. His latest book “Alicia” was critically acclaimed by all of its reviewers.