I have been debating whether or not to post a bit more on the Democratic primary, to air a bit more of my reasons for supporting Barack Obama, and to share why I do not support Hillary Clinton. I could probably turn this into a series of posts and dig into all of the particulars and my reasoning. But since I’m not primarily interested in blogging on politics, I’ll just leave you with a few reasons why I support Obama that I don’t hear on news or read about online.
If you’re not digging this kind of post, come back tomorrow and we’ll resume with my regular topics: Vermont and Christianity.
The Campaign is The Message
Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” I think the campaigns speak loudly over the words of each candidate. Clinton is running her campaign with a slew of highly paid, well-connected political experts. It’s top-down in approach, spends heavily on consulting fees and perks, and does not excel at mobilizing large numbers of people on the ground. Keep in mind that even if she can claim a “comeback” with Ohio and Texas, that only happened because her campaign is so poorly run that it squandered huge early leads. Even her major donors are uneasy about the way her campaign is run.
Obama on the other hand has been gaining ground on Clinton through his grass-roots campaign that distributes power and initiative to volunteers. Of course he still has to play with the big guys in the Democratic party and of course he has consultants, but the local flavor and initiative in Obama’s campaign still strikes me as quite different from Clinton. If anything, Obama has run a very effective campaign that has engaged voters, spent funds with a good deal of discretion, and kept a keen eye to the future (rather than counting on early victory). Sounds like some of the qualities we may want in a president.
I don’t really buy into the criticism that Obama has no concrete message. I think, if anything, the issues are not quite as important at this stage because Obama and Clinton have relatively similar records and views. Sure she drudged up the Nafta thing, sure they have a few differences on health care, but overall I think this primary process is more about highlighting their differences: the kind of leaders they are. Clinton tried to draw a line between herself and Obama by claiming experience, but somehow her experience did not translate into sound judgment on the Iraq war. And really, does she actually have that much more experience? She hasn’t served that much longer than Obama in the Senate and Obama’s time as a state senator should not be ignored while she touts her time as first lady. I can’t quantify the value of their experiences, but I will say that the experience issue is a toss up so far as I can see.
The bigger issue is the character of each candidate. If there is any area that has turned me off from Clinton, it’s her almost schizophrenic approach with the voters. I can’t believe people take her seriously after she almost thinks out loud with her campaign about which person she has to be in which state in order to be elected. First it was the confident, experienced candidate, then it was the weepy-eyed fighter for our country, then it was the vicious attacker, then it was somewhat nice while still attacking, now it’s attacking one or two issues hard. Am I the only one who thinks she’s toying with us?
On the other hand, Obama has consistently kept it positive, stayed on track with his message, and responded with as much grace to her attacks as is possible for a politician. Even if we have tired of his message of hope and change, he has stuck with his message, and he has stayed true to his goal leading a new kind of campaign. If Obama is willing to stay out of the ring in the midst of a presidential campaign, not willing to mix it up with so much on the line, then I think that says something about who he is and the kind of leader he will be. And really, no matter how much dirt we dig up about him, keep in mind that the Republicans will all but break into the Clinton library in order to access all of the dirt on Hillary that Bill is trying to keep under lock and key until after the election.
So there, I’ve said my piece. I could have said more, but these are two things that I keep noticing in the midst of the Democratic campaigns. I am sympathetic to Hillary in that I believe she really does care about the poor and down and out and that she has it hard as a woman: should she put on a tough face to duke it out with the boys or should she play up her feminine side? She’s not in an easy spot. However, it’s no secret that the Clinton brand of politics is slash and burn, leaves heavy casualties, and will no doubt do more to divide America.
Perhaps Obama could use a stronger message, more foreign policy experience, and at least one quirk that SNL can mimic, but no one can take away his stand against the Iraq war, the efficiency and effectiveness of his campaign, and his true ability to unite America, evidenced in his commitment to shy away from attacking Clinton. I think you can find good reasons to vote for Clinton, but I quite frankly don’t trust her or her style of politics, not to mention how her campaign may very well have squandered her lead and possibly a once inevitable nomination.