Wednesday, February 06, 2008

One Vague Reason I Support Barack Obama

He can bring "change."

Too vague for you?

I'll try to explain:

It's not about any one policy. Some correctly argue that Mr. Obama is very much in the Democratic mainstream on a lot of issues. Some correctly argue that Mr. Obama too mainstream to make fundamental changes on certain issues.

That's true. He's not out of the mainstream. He's not as progressive as I am. That's too bad, I'd like him more if he was.

Instead, he's electable.

Some argue that he is no different from Hillary Clinton, politically. I have very serious disagreements with that sentiment. I think it is way way off-base. I think it might even be naive.

But let's look past that. Say you do think Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have pretty much the same policies. If you don't like those policies, what's the point of voting for either of them? Why vote for Obama? What sets him apart, if it's not his policies?

(Again, I believe his policies ARE fundamentally different from Mrs. Clinton's on a number of issues that are important to me)

Change sets Mr. Obama apart.

Still too vague? Sorry, it's sometimes difficult to describe.

Mr. Obama is an advocate for change not because HE says he is.

He's for change because WE say he is.

We are his supporters. We are his base. We are the reason he is competitive against Mrs. Clinton. We are the reason he has kept pace financially. We are the reason the media has covered him like a major contender when he was still relatively obscure.

An unprecedented number of small donors. Unprecedented numbers of involved young people. Unprecedented use of the internet as a tool for mobilization and alternative media.

Those things are represent big change from prior candidacies.

They represent the potential for much bigger change down the road.


There is something about his charisma, too, though. Something different.

I feel as though many progressives are frustrated by this.

Are you worried people will be too seduced by his speaking ability and perceptions of his genuineness to rationally evaluate his policies, to see how moderate you think they are?


He does have this bizarre ability, doesn't he? I mean, he just seems to unite people.

I mean, how does someone with a foreign name like 'Barack Obama,' someone with an ex-patriot upbringing, someone with dark skin, some mainstream Democrat convince so many independents and Republicans to support his candidacy?

How does some new kid come in an earn 90% African American support against a candidate that considered that community to be her staunchest grassroots base? How does he get 90% African American support against a candidate who has gotten endorsements from such an impressive cross-section of the traditional African American political leadership?

How does some moderate democrat get so many young people to get out and vote in spite of what seemed to be insurmountable apathy? How does he draw such huge crowds?

Is it just because he's an electrifying speaker?


Look, Barack Obama is the most exciting mainstream political candidate of my life. I have supported him enthusiastically. I believe that he has the potential bring a "change."

I was not old enough to vote in 2000, when President Bush was elected.

Since I reached political adulthood, I have only been pessimistic about the future of this country. I have only seen things become worse and worse.

Now, I have optimism.

And it's not because I think Mr. Obama will single-handedly bring about the fundamental changes that I would like to eventually see.

It's because I'll still think those changes are remotely possible if he gets elected.

If he's not, then I won't. And we'll be right back on the day after election day in 2004.

A Barack Obama victory sends a message to us. It tells young people, independents, minorities, the previously apathetic - it demonstrates to grassroots Americans that they have some semblance of electoral power.

When people talk about Obama's electoral coalition, when they talk about the potential for him to reinvigorate the Democratic Party, well, I can't help but get excited. Are you not also exasperated?

Some people think that no real change can come from the two-party system.

I'd argue that Roosevelt's New Deal coalition brought about enormous change. I'd argue that it was Roosevelt's New Deal coalition that gave Kennedy and LBJ the opportunity to continue to transform American society.

I'd like to think that the most general principles of the Democratic Party (commitment to social welfare, protection of civil liberties, etc.) are appealing to the vast vast majority of Americans. It was certainly appeared true when the Democrats largely controlled the pace of progress in America from 1932 to 1968.

I'd like to think it is possible to refocus the efforts of the national government to better reflect those most basic principles.

If only those that fight for those basic principles could find a means of articulating them in a way that unites Americans that have been susceptible to the fear-mongering style of neoconservative Republicans.....

Vote for Barack Obama!

Explain to me how Hillary Clinton unites this country. Explain to me how Hillary Clinton builds a wide-ranging Democratic coalition capable of creating long-term substantive change?


Explain how a vote for Ralph Nader brings change.

Explain how a vote for a candidate that has dropped out, such as Edwards or Kucinich, brings any change whatsoever.

Justify getting in the way of the grassroots and youth movement that is demanding change from within the Democratic Party.

Justify it to me.

Do you really believe that President Barack Obama would bring no change whatsoever? Do you really believe progressives wouldn't have a more forceful voice in American discourse?

For everyone's legitimate questions about how Mr. Obama will be able to pull it off, for everyone's questions about whether or not he'll actually be able to follow through on his states positions, for everyone's skepticism regarding the potential for unity within the Democratic Party or within America, for everyone's gripes about legitimate progressive positions that are met by the purportedly-progressive Democratic party with silence - justify to me throwing your vote away with Ralph Nader or John Edwards or an abstention.

Justify it to me.

I don't think you can.

Don't throw your vote away to cynicism. Don't be so self-righteous that you are blind to the potential for a real coalition to get at least some important things done during the next administration.

Don't miss the forest because you're looking at the bark on one of the trees.

If you're a rational, skeptical person that generally supports social welfare and civil liberties, I don't understand how you wouldn't think this Obama guy is totally worth a shot...

Especially at this stage of the game! Edwards is out, Kucinich is out, Dodd is out.

Your choices are clear:

Hillary Clinton
A Republican
Throw-away Third Party
Barack Obama

Barack Obama isn't worth a shot? Really? His platform is sooo moderate that you just can't stomach it? Really? He's so similar to all the other politicians? How?

Are your Saturday plans to stay home or lodge a protest vote really because you don't think Mr. Obama would be the strongest nominee for the short and long term health of a progressive agenda? Or do you just not want your feelings hurt if he falls short of expectations? Or do you just want to say I-told-you-so every time he makes a compromise we don't like?

Be both pragmatic and hopeful, vote for Barack Obama on Saturday!

Do it for all those hopeless romantic children out there that still believe that they can make their country better without a torch and a gun!


Mayor Wanna said...

We can all dream can't we. I hope he gets it.

jess said...

Seriously. Right on.

Anonymous said...

This really bugs me. I hear more and more about this "change" Obama is going to bring. You go on at length about how Obama and Hillary are different when it comes to the issues.

Would you care to enlighten us? What issues, exactly, do Obama and Hillary differ on in a meaningful way.

I think Obama has *talked* alot about these vague changes he wishes to impliment, but in true beaurocrat form, he hasn't actually *said* much.

The word change probably played well with some focus group. Everyone fills in that blank with their own ideas. So it is no surprise that our generation is so enamoured with him.
We are young, naive, and very eager for change. But what change?

It is hard to disagree with someone that rarely gives details on their viewpoints.

Anonymous said...

"anonymous" before me.. I don't think you understand. Obama isn't just talking about change in washington. I really believe that the greatest change he can provide is the change 1) the way the rest of the world perceives us (by the way.. if you haven't noticed, they hate us.. trust me i had to live overseas in "tolerant" Holland for eight freaking years) and 2) the way we see ourselves. I used to feel awful about america, i saw all these things wrong with the world, and i felt like i had no power to fix them, as in lets see.. one thing i hate is the fact that Bush took money out of funds for NASA in order to pay for his freaking tax cuts... WTF. NASA? besides the point, Obama sends a message to the american people, myself included that promotes optimism and enthusiasm about being american. Where else, and in which candidate can we find a person that can fill us with such hope and optimism that i feel when i hear him speak. Hillary...psssh. no. she's a bitch. McCain... anger problems.. don't like either of em... Obama is the right candidate and i think only the rational thinkers in America can really see that.

Anonymous said...

have all you nut cases lost your minds???
Why are you so eager to give the USA to this Person from another Country???
You better wake up before it's to late!
Visit Mississippi and see why we don't need this guy as the president of my USA.
WAKE UP YOU Stupid People!!!!!
If he wins you are going to lose!
Your Rights To the freedom as you know it now!
From Mississippi