The country is extremely divided right now, and the reasons for how people voted reflect that. The NY Times makes a good argument for us at least being able to listen to the "other side" or sides.
Divided They Run
Polls of Democratic voters on Tuesday made it clear that the politics of identity — race, gender, class — was driving the contest between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the Republican contests, the far-right fringe is trying to maul their party’s front-runner, Senator John McCain.
Since the voting did not produce dead-certain winners, the coming contests in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Washington and Virginia may only increase the pressure on campaigns that are more than willing to bare their fangs.
Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will face the gargantuan task of winning over the other’s voters. While Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have few policy disputes, voter polls showed gulfs between their core supporters: men for Mr. Obama and women for Mrs. Clinton, and so on with black voters and Hispanic voters, more educated voters and less educated voters, richer and poorer, those driven by the idea of change and those looking for a candidate who cares about their problems.
Mrs. Clinton fired the first divisive shots of this campaign, and we have said before that if she is the nominee she will have to stretch herself to connect with Mr. Obama’s supporters. Many of the most passionate of them are getting involved in politics for the first time. Mr. Obama will have that same formidable challenge with Mrs. Clinton’s supporters if he wins, and an even more vexing one if he loses.
Having run on the idea of broad participation across society’s divisions, Mr. Obama’s campaign often seems to teeter on becoming a cult of personality — a feeling that the candidate and those around him do nothing to dispel. In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” on Monday, Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle, was asked if she would work to support Mrs. Clinton if she won. “I’d have to think about that,” she replied.
Mrs. Obama quickly got back on her talking points, stressing party unity. But her unguarded answer was similar to what we heard from Obama supporters in e-mail messages that we received after endorsing Mrs. Clinton. Many of those readers said they would not bother to vote if Mr. Obama lost the nomination. That is not the way democracy is supposed to work.
Among the Republicans, as Mr. McCain has pulled ahead, he has been shrilly attacked by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, who have said they’d rather lose the White House than have a nominee who does not pass all of their litmus tests. That is not the way democracy is supposed to work. Their claim that Mr. McCain is not a conservative (based largely on his willingness to actually talk to Democrats) is ludicrous, but it’s damaging to a party bloodied by eight years of the politics of George Bush and Karl Rove.
There has been much wrong with this campaign: too much money spent on advertising, too many soft-money donations. There is still a chance, at least, to save the race from leaving the country even more divided than in the Bush years. Any candidate, and any party, presuming to unite this country must first unite their own. That is how democracy is supposed to work.