Saturday, May 24, 2008


Hillary Clinton is done. She's been done for some time, and everyone knows it but her. It's good that the Democratic race is essentially over, because it's way past time to start thinking about the general election and making sure the conservatives lose as much power and influence as possible. And that's where this gets weird.

I prefer Obama as a candidate over Clinton, and have from the beginning, even though the two are close on every policy position and in most other respects. I prefer Obama not because Clinton is a woman (the recent charges of widespread misogyny are just pathetic), and not because Clinton is a Clinton (I liked Bill as President), but because Obama at least tries to practice a different kind of politics, because his persona isn't constructed for political expediency and restructured every time the landscape changes. Because Clinton is part of, and manifests the rhetoric and attitudes of, the generation of politicians that has caused this hyperpartisan, all-or-nothing, self-righteous political atmosphere. She seems incapable of disengaging from the dialogue the Republicans have dictated since Reagan, recognizing it for the shallow, destructive distraction that it is, and moving toward a more civil, productive mode of governance.

That said, Obama and Clinton are extremely close in most of the criteria of greatest importance in a presidential candidate: policy position and stated intention.

But like I said, this is where it gets weird. There are Clinton supporters who say they will not vote for Obama if he's the Democratic candidate in the general election. This boggles my mind. I can only think of a few reasons someone would take this position.

  1. The voter supports Clinton as a candidate, but sees John McCain as the next best alternative. I'm hesitant to say anything's impossible, but this would be incredible. It would have to be explained to me, because the only aspect in which Clinton is closer to McCain than she is to Obama is age.

  2. The voter thinks Obama is unelectable because too many racist white Americans won't vote for a black man. This might have some merit, in a strategic sense, in the primaries, but it certainly doesn't hold water in the general election. If Candidate A is a better choice than Candidate B, but I vote for Candidate B because other people might not vote for Candidate A, then I'm just compounding the problem of racist stupidity, aren't I? That would make me dumber than the idiot racists.

  3. The voter wanted Clinton but is disappointed, sad, and maybe even angry that more voters prefer Obama, so will either vote for McCain or not vote at all out of principle. The legal voting age in the U.S. is eighteen--the age of legal majority. That means a voter has to be a chronological adult, but does not mandate a corresponding emotional maturity. Voters whose selections are motivated by this kind of petulance need to grow the hell up.

  4. The voter thinks experience is the most important aspect in a candidate. McCain might be an ideological caveman, but at least he has experience. While this might be the most factually supportable reason, it's also one of the least sensible. John McCain first took office as a Representative of Arizona in 1982. Hillary Clinton took office as a Senator from New York in 1993. Barack Obama took office as a State Senator in Illinois in 1997 and as a US Senator in 2005. So yes, Clinton has been in office four years longer than Obama has. But McCain has been in office longer than Clinton has--by more than a decade. If experience trumps policy positions and ideology, those supporting Clinton should have supported McCain from the start. If policy positions and ideology trump experience, the Clinton supporters would be seriously inconsistent for shifting away from Obama on the basis of experience.

I suppose there are more reasons. If you can think of any, let me know. Me? I like Obama, and I have since before he entered the race. I've never supported a conservative, and after the last eight years I'd vote for a box of hair before voting for anyone who shares policy positions or ideology with Dubya (actually that was the case in 2000, too--I've always been astounded that others could vote for such an obvious idiot). If Obama weren't in the race I'd probably have supported Clinton (after Kucinich and Richardson dropped out, anyway), but in this reality I'm fortunate that the candidate I like is likely going on to the general election.


Jim said...

Great post! But you miss one important thing: you assume the American populace, in general, has any form of free thought left. Television feeds our minds snippets of half truths that people take to heart. In the "1984"-esque world the 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered and the Bush administration propagated fervently, fear and hatred is the bread and butter of our society. People are easily manipulated on this pivot as they've always been manipulated: praise God or go to hell, vote for us or lose your freedoms; every tyrant in history has used fear to stay in power and draw lines between people to secure their regime. Fear is an ancient and still powerful tool. The Bush administration used it in both general elections (along with some illegal vote manipulation?).

The Daily Show interviewed some people from Virginia after Hillary won the delegates for that state. It's a 10 minute video (linky below), but very entertaining and, at the same time, very disturbing: "I don't like that Obama guy because of Hussein. I've had enough of Hussein." lolwut? "I won't vote for Obama because we've had problems with the other race." Can you slap sense into these people? No. Because they'll file a lawsuit against you and win. That will only reinforce their convictions. You cannot teach those that do not wish to be taught.

Even educated people fall victim to the "truths" they're fed. Religion is a prime example. Intelligent, educated people still have faith that God exists. They take it on faith when they've been trained to be critical thinkers and question everything put before them. They have to construct amazing scenarios explaining such things as "why God doesn't answer the prayers of the starving children in Ethiopia?" or "why doesn't God heal amputees?" but he answers some guy's prayers for a raise "because He has a plan for those people" lolwut?

It saddens me that the greatest strength of our country is also the greatest weakness: the people. We can be a force to be reckoned with as has been seen before in history. United we are a great country, but as we become divided and these party lines are drawn we'll see, I despair, that fear and hate will be stronger than anything set against it and our once great country will be led to a dark place where our freedoms are no longer a right for everyone, but a privilege for the wealthy and in-power.

This country is not as great as it used to be. There is no one cause, but many, that have driven us to what we are now. You cannot blame Bush without blaming Dr. Phil. You cannot blame OPEC without blaming reality TV. And parents these days... Helmets and kneepads to go on a WALK! The future generation will be a bunch of oversensitive pansies that are incapable of performing in life because they never learned the value of pain.

I don't know how else to ends this than with a heavy sigh. I can almost hear the deterioration of our nation with each passing moment. When the foundations crumble beneath us, what will be left? The rubble of a once great society? Perhaps.

Jason said...

The fearmongering is definitely a part of contemporary politics. The part that really disturbs me is that it evokes fears that can't be addressed by anyone. Dubya (and the helmet kids wear to go for a walk) promise a guarantee. In Dubya's case he makes stupid pronouncements like "We'll make sure nothing like this will ever happen again."

Bullshit. No matter how many bombs we drop on Tikrit, no matter how many security checks we have in airports, no matter how many phones are tapped, no matter how many Arabs are waterboarded, we will be attacked again. And people will die. There's no way to guarantee against that, but that's the carrot Dubya dangles.

So we're subjected to warnings and portents about disaster if the political opponent is elected, but the speaker gets a free pass on the fact that they can't do anything about it, either.

And that's aside from the fact that Dubya has actually made us more likely to be attacked.

I get so angry I want to anlksdnfothls--

Michele said...


Both of you said it better than I could, because I start to think about all this and see red. Then I start going athlksioeihr or whatever Jas wrote. :)