I'm reading The New York Times' interesting report on how the Clinton and Obama campaigns are engaged in competing efforts to define what it means to be "winning" the Democratic nomination fight.
From what the Times reports, you'd think the only important things are (a) who has more individual delegates or popular votes or states of various sizes and quantities now and (b) who can potentially win which states in the fall.
In other words, each camp says win means "I've collected a bunch of the parts of the puzzle - and will collect another bunch against McCain - and my bunch of parts is or will be better than your bunch of parts."
My problem with this is it has NOTHING to do with how voters are voting. Voters are voting for what kind of future they think they will get if their candidate wins.
In other words, voters are voting based on expected results. They equate winning with a particular future. That is their definition, and I highly recommend that both the commentators and the candidates recognize that this is so and act accordingly.
And to those commentators - and maybe even reporters too - who have said for quite a while that there's basically no difference between the Clinton and Obama policy proposals, I suggest you take a hard look at the events of the last few weeks. Because you will see - in the monumentally different approaches of the Clinton and Obama campaigns - what voters like me have been aware of for some time. A Clinton administration will be all about fighting the "bad people" in America who need to be defeated; while an Obama administration will be dedicated to finding common ground and pulling America back from being the politically divided country it has become.
And if you don't think there's a difference between continuing the politics of personal destruction the Clinton's learned so well from their Republican adversaries and the politics of generosity and reconciliation that Barack Obama has practiced since he first became a State Senator in Illinois, then I invite you to read the classic book from the Harvard Negotiation Project which was published back in 1981. It's called Getting To Yes. And it's about producing real results when the starting point is that people don't agree with each other (and possibly don't even like each other).
I believe Barack Obama has either studied the groundbreaking work in that book or uses its principles naturally.
So, to all those asking "Who is winning?", I say "The question should really be 'What will the win look like?', because I believe that's how voters are making up their minds.
It's not about a collection of parts. It's about what kind of world one collection of parts - when functioning as a synergistic whole - will give us versus the other.
To me, it's literally about the continuation of war versus the promise of peace.