Friday, January 04, 2008

So yeah, Obama...

Well, the nearly meaningless Iowa caucus was last night, and we're left with Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee as the winners. Whoopedy doo!

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Obama won. For that matter, I'm glad Edwards beat Clinton. But frankly, I'm not surprised by either of those outcomes.

Why not? Because the media are a bunch of fucking idiots. Hillary's entire "inevitable" status was created by them because they're stuck in an old way of thinking. We in Massachusetts, and especially in Fitchburg, should have already abandoned that way of thinking by now.

Allow me to explain...

Obama's victory was predictable if you watched the elections that gave us Deval Patrick and Lisa Wong, who both won by considerable margins. The commonalities are almost too numerous to mention, and I see no reason why the outcome should be any different.

I'm not talking about stuff like minority status here. It's insignificant as a factor in any of their victories. What I'm talking about is the two basic messages common to each of these candidates; "change" and "hope."

Most people aren't happy with the way the country (or the state, or the city) have been run of late. They want change, and they want intelligent change.

Kerry Healey didn't represent change, Tom Donnelly didn't represent change, and Hillary Clinton doesn't represent change. Patrick, Wong, and Obama did (or do). Whether that representation is accurate is an open question, but the perception is that they're at least agents of change. And not just any change, but a change that inspires people and engages them. That's perhaps the most important bit.

That's also the bit that involves "hope."

Now, hope is a tricky thing. Some (including myself) might say it's an empty word meaning nothing. You can't hope your way out of an unjust war, you can't hope your way to better healthcare, and you can't hope your way to a better government. But hope's still a powerful thing. If you don't have it, you don't get a lot done. You just sort of sit around being bummed out. So you sort of need hope.

And hope is what those three candidates give people. Which is no easy task with a populace as apathetic and jaded as ours. But it's pretty fucking powerful.

So here's what happens, and this is what the political pundits and media talking heads have yet to realize. All the elections in the coming year or so are going to have record turnout, and that turnout is going to push for the candidate who inspires hope and represents change.

Let's look at Obama vs Clinton for an example.

This is just anecdotal, but in my experience people who support Clinton are pretty lukewarm about her, and people who don't support her hate her fucking guts. So her supporters aren't necessarily passionate about going to support her, and those who don't support her are passionate about going to vote for someone else.

Obama has the opposite situation. People who support him are excited to do so. Those who don't support him don't seem to hate him, but sort of have a lukewarm (lukecold?) attitude towards him. There's not a lot of hate for Obama (unlike Clinton).

Anyway, Obama's motivated supporters definitely show up to vote for him. Clinton's haters show up to vote against her (and may well vote for Obama). Obama wins, Clinton loses.

This doesn't have a perfect analogue with the Patrick/Healey and Wong/Donnelly races, because I don't think people had the same hatred of Healey or Donnelly that they have for Clinton, they were just uninspired by them. Still, if you have one inspiring candidate and one boring milquetoast, the inspiring candidate is always going to win.

When it comes to Huckabee, it's sort of the same thing. Which is weird, but allow me to explain.

Willard "Mitt" Romney is the most boring piece of offal on the planet. Dull dull dull. He's the functional choice. The one with the nice hair and a lot of money. Seems like he'll win by the old-school thought.

But Huckabee excites people. Granted, the people he excites are batshit crazy. But it's the same deal as with the Democrats. He excites the crazy people while Willard just sort of appeals to the dullards. Hence, Huckabee won because the crazy idiots came out to vote in droves.

No idea if that win will carry over to other primaries (issues of money and so forth, plus Huck's general insanity do still matter a bit), but it should be a warning shot for Romney. Boring dudes don't win when the country wants change and vision!

Anyway, yeah. Vision is extremely important in a political leader. Hope and passion are very important to getting elected, and not so bad to have in a leader either.

And the media isn't going to get it yet again. What else is new?

I'll give my prediction, just in case you care. I've expressed this privately before the caucus, but might as well get it on the record in case I'm right...

For the Democrats, it comes down to Obama & Edwards, with Obama coming out on top. Hillary takes a couple of states, but that's it. Maybe an Obama/Edwards ticket in the general. Anyway, Obama wins president.

For the Republicans... well, I'm rooting for Huckabee just because he's so totally unelectable. It'll probably be Willard Romney though. Who will lose in the general election, just like he would have lost had he run for governor of Massachusetts again. McCain's the only Republican with a chance in hell of winning the presidency, but the guy doesn't have the money or support from the far-right base to get the nomination.

So there you have it. Feel free to make fun of me if I'm wrong.


1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

I think you're pretty close, but I don't see Obama picking Edwards. Edwards is half of the last losing ticket, and only has four years in elected office himself. Of the remaining choices, Biden and Richardson are the most knowledgeable foreign policy guys, but both have skeletons that make them unelectable. I see either in cabinet positions. Bottom line, Obama has to pick someone with experience who isn't overexposed. I'm thinking Jim Webb. He's a decorated Vietnam vet, former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan. He's tough and credible.

I would much rather see Mittens as the nominee than Huckabee. Huckabee is a naturally likable guy with a good sense of comedic timing. He may be woefully unprepared on foreign policy issues, but most people are idiots and won't notice.

stah said...

Like 90% of America right now, I have no friggin clue who I will vote for in November. I could care less how anyone did last night except for one person, Romney! Seeing him spend more money in one week than anyone could spend in their lifetime, get smoked by someone who I couldn't pick out of a crowd of two, was awesome!

BTW, does anyone in Massachusetts care about the particular religion of a candiate like the rest of the country does? This will always confuse me.

1970s Abraham Lincoln said...

does anyone in Massachusetts care about the particular religion of a candiate like the rest of the country does? This will always confuse me.

Sure, there are bigots everywhere. There just seem to be fewer in Massachusetts.

ReallyRachel said...

Edwards is the kind of guy who could make me a Democrat. I like him - a lot - for many reasons. He's just so - stable - smart and likable and did I mention stable and level headed.

Likewise, McCain has long been the kind of guy who could make me a Republican. Probably the only existing "compassionate Republican," and smart, likable and stable.

It's kind of too bad we don't still have the system where the losing candidate becomes Vice President. There's something to be said for mandatory bipartisanship.

What's really wrong with our system is the extreme polarity. The pendulum swings harder to the right or the left with each election, which makes it impossible to create anything meaningful for the long term.

Until "change" means long term planning and goal setting, true bipartisanship, and MODERATION in ALL aspects, we will continue to bounce from one nonproductive extreme to another.

Regarding the question about applicability of a candidate's personal religion ... a comment. I have no problem with my president talking to G-d. I personally do so regularly. It's the little matter of becoming convinced that G-d speaks directly to them and therefore they are infallible that I have a problem with. We've had seven years of religious fascism and we don't need another four.

Here's a novel idea: how about we separate religion from government and adopt "don't ask, don't tell" regarding religious preference in political campaigns. I could care less what a candidate's professed religion is. What I DO care about is an elected official doing everything just short of declaring an official state religion in promoting his/her religious agenda on education, healthcare, and government programs.

Another point that I haven't seen brought up and I wonder why. Bush was asked about his substance addiction and faced it head on, and won the admiration and support of some because of his openness and acknowledgement about his addiction and recovery.

I am not aware of anyone raising a similar question of Huckabee, who has lost a gazillion pounds due to bariatric surgery. I'm a bit of a chubber myself so I'm on thin ice here, but my misgivings are as follows:

1) If a man cannot control his own appetite for food, what does that say about his emotional stability for the most demanding and stressful job in the world?

2) The medical studies are showing an odd pattern with people who have had bariatric surgery - there is a much higher than normal incidence of gambling, promiscuity, substance abuse or other negative behaviors in this population. No one knows why ... perhaps one behavior being replace by others, but it's a valid concern.

Why is someone's religion fair game for the media, but someone's eating disorder off limits?

Look, I don't need them to be perfect ... but how about laying all the cards on the table.