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.