Friday, February 15, 2008

Elected Officials

A few brief thoughts on Super Tuesday and its aftermath:

I voted for Barack Obama. I have not yet decided how I feel about that. Which is to say, I haven't completely settled on a candidate preference; what I have, or at least had, settled on is the conclusion that there's no way Hillary Clinton could beat John McCain. They're both decently close to center, and given the fact that they've worked together in the Senate on a number of bipartisan-ish projects, he's simply that much more charismatic and likable than she is, and also hasn't been nastily and sexist-ly vilified by the press on a consistent basis since 1992. If it is, indeed, going to be Mr. McCain, which I think it is, I want to run a candidate I think has a chance. On the question of racist and sexist voters, I think Clinton herself is so polarizing a figure that non-voters are likely to come out specifically to vote against her, while I don't see that happening on nearly the same level with Obama, and I see it as more likely that non-voters will come out spefically to vote for him.

My sister tells me this is an unproductive way to think. While it's not relevant to my vote right now, since I already voted in the primary, she says that there's really no way to know/predict what will happen in the next nine months enough to assert that as a confident reason for a vote; I can't pretend to know everyone, I just have to know me. Since that comes uncomfortably close to my exact beliefs about art and artistic audiences, I think I may have to buy it.

Still not entirely sure what I think. Many to most of my friends and family are at this point Obama supporters, and while I respect each of them and their assessments, I am having a lot of the trouble with Obama supporters that Paul Krugman mentions here. Dude is not going to save the world, and I do not like the attitude of many Obama supporters that if the world is not saved it is automatically destroyed. By the same token, though, I'm not about to minimize the importance of charisma and the ability to inspire, though, and it seems fair to claim that Obama's far and away the leader on that, as elucidated in this Lessig blog post that Maddy sent me. In a similar but angrier manner, Tom refuses to vote for Clinton should she become the nominee, believing that her campaign has used very subtle and nasty racist techniques to enforce the idea of a white status quo—that is to say, she's trying to say to voters that it's true, and okay, that only white people can have enough power to get things done for black people.

Bydeby, I have a very strong and angry reaction, these days, to using "Hillary" to refer to Hillary Clinton. I have to fight doing it myself, and I recognize that one could interpret calling her by her first name as an effort to distinguish her from her husband. But I also think that in a race known in common parlance as "Hillary v. Obama," it's abundantly clear who's being taken more seriously. I also feel strongly that it's much more acceptable for the mainstream media to be openly (or subtly) sexist than openly (or subtly) racist. (That's not a general "gender trumps race" argument, bydeby—that's not something I like to get into because I don't think it's a worthwhile comparison. But quite frequently people get away with comments about Clinton along the lines of the "clean and articulate" comment for which Joe Biden was, reasonably, upbraided.) It has a lot to do, of course, with how much longer Clinton has been in the spotlight than Obama, and the particular era in which she came into it. But it's a Hillary v. Barack race or it's an Obama v. Clinton race. Those are the only acceptable dichotomies for this blog. (I guess Hillary Clinton v. Barack Obama is also okay . . . :>D)

I honestly don't feel well-informed enough to make a well-informed choice. I know Clinton has dealt with the devil; I know I really don't approve of the way in which she's conducted herself with regards to the war. I am not, however, confident that her polarizing of the public is her fault, nor am I sure that Obama wouldn't deal with the devil if given the opportunities, which opportunities he is simply too green to have encountered. He's also had fewer opportunities to vote dishonorably (I don't really care what the Illinois State Senate thought about the war in Iraq, to be frank). I do, however, think the level on which he manages to speak out on his beliefs being as green as he is remains impressive, and that there *is* something to be said for electing the press's golden boy.

Off a conversation with Silvana and friend last night, I need to assert that I am confident Huckabee will not be McCain's running mate. Why? Because McCain doesn't need him. They don't share beliefs, political or otherwise, nor styles, and while I know the religious right keeps swearing they'll boycott the vote if McCain should win, are they seriously planning to let Clinton or Obama win? I think not.

I voted for Barack Obama because it seemed to me the practical choice. A sixth-grade girl named S in my mentoring program was furious with me and the other mentors who confessed to have voted for Obama; in our female empowerment program, S felt we had betrayed her desire to have a woman president. One of my former students, M, who's 21, knows simply that this election is historical because "a lady and a black guy" are running, and she plans to vote for the black guy because she thinks he should have a chance. I will also vote practically in the November election, because I don't want John McCain to be president (though there was a time, specifically the year 2000, when I really wouldn't have minded—when I even prefered the prospect of McCain to that of Al Gore). I can understand and accept the arguments against voting purely practically in a primary. But the fact is, if I hadn't, I'm still not *positive* about whom I would have voted for.


At 4:26 PM, Blogger tyromaven said...

I would have voted locally, campaigned and wrestled with local politics if I wanted to really get what I want, rather than trying to choose the least offending horse in the race. National politics looks dismal to me, no matter who wins. But on the whole, I'm looking up on local possibilities.

Frankly, I would have voted for Michelle Obama. ;D


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