Democrats & Liberals Archives

On Being Balls Out for Obama

It is a challenge for someone like me to throw my unqualified support behind a single contender for the presidency who is actually given a reasonable chance of winning that contest. My own views include a number of unpopular opinions, and American politics is usually unkind toward anyone with the guts to stand up for such ideas. Barack Obama may on balance be more conservative than I am, but he eloquently gives voice to a central concept in my own political thinking.

“To me, the issue is not are you centrist or are you liberal. The issue to me is--Is what you’re proposing going to work? Can you build a working coalition to make the lives of people better? And if it can work, you should support it whether it’s centrist, conservative, or liberal.”
From the time I heard his keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, in which he eloquently challenged the conventional notion that we are a nation divided, and that there is little point in bridging our gaps or understanding our adversaries, but rather that
we worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states
I realized that here was someone who was finally giving voice to a powerful alternative to the false dichotomy which has divided us.

Even so I realize that inspirational oratory alone does not make a president or a leader. Political reality demands specific actions, proposals, compromises, and the ability to not only say the right thing but to work with a variety of players to make things happen. I am able to live with Obama's hybrid answer to health care which is not as bold as the plans I would prefer put forward by Kucinich or even Edwards, or his shying away from supporting gay marriage as I would. My tentativeness in supporting such a candidate probably lies more in being convinced that he can successfully drive through those programs where we are in agreement, and make progress on many fronts.

Obama's website does a good job of laying out his positions on issues. His commitment from the outset to rely on individual donors rather than institutional or corporate donors, puts him along with Edwards and Kucinich in the position of being less indebted to the moneyed interests which so many Americans, left, right, and center would like to see play less role in our politics. Having read his "Audacity of Hope", I am convinced of both his sincerity and his intellect.

Some liberal or progressive skeptics worry that Edwards is right that there is a battle to be joined against the corporate bigwigs, and Obama's inclusive approach is naive. Pitching the struggle as a battle, however, may be the naive position, which sets up yet another either/or formulation that will ultimately fall to the moneyed interests. I'm more inclined to agree with this assessment that

the sheer force of [Obama's] empathy and skills as a communicator, would broaden the political landscape and convince moderate Republicans and Independents to back progressive policies they ordinarily wouldn't go for.
Obama's promise to give the corporations "a seat at the table" when issues impacting them are discussed, is not the same as allowing them to set the agenda. I'm convinced that Obama can make it clear to those representatives that certain assumptions they once were able to make are no longer possibilities. It only makes sense to invite the participation of those who understand the current structures when seeking new solutions.

Last summer in talking with others who attended with me an Obama stump speech, the decided Obama supporter among them asked me whether I was "balls out" for Obama. Perhaps suffering from an affliction common among those of us in the second halves of our lives, my response was qualified. But now, with my own state caucus only 5 weeks away, this progressive has decided that it is time to declare my unmitigated support for Obama, without reservation.

Posted by Walker Willingham at January 2, 2008 3:30 PM
Comments
Comment #241973

Obama’s opposition, during his term as an Illinois state legislator, to a bill making it illegal to allow the death by exposure/neglect of near-full-babies delivered alive makes it impossible for me to vote for him. But for progressives insensitive to the agonies of the innocent he certainly is a breath of fresh air.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 2, 2008 3:57 PM
Comment #241975

Lee, what’s a near-full-baby? One fed recently?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 2, 2008 4:39 PM
Comment #241976

His plan to let businesses pay for healthcare doesn’t sit right with me.

Posted by: Max at January 2, 2008 4:50 PM
Comment #241977

Walker, there you go using that “And can win” criterion. You cannot know whether Edwards, Obama, Clinton, or Biden can or cannot win. Certainly, however, if one makes such pre-judgments in combination with many other voters, that candidate will NOT win.

I never understood this illogical standard. The polls are meaningless if the people vote their favored candidate and until the last votes are counted. As the polls so monumentally demonstrate, people’s assessment of their favored candidate changes from day to day, week to week, month to month. Hence, one cannot know who Can or Cannot Win, unless one deludes oneself by allowing the Media and Pollsters to decide your choice for you.

Get rid of that “and can win” criterion and support the candidate that you think will best represent your interests presently and for the future. If all American would approach their vote this way, the Media and pollsters would not be able to dictate who is elected long before the election is even held.

I will take Edwards and Biden over Obama in a heartbeat for the simple reason they have a detailed plan and agenda that represents what I think would be healthy for America’s future. Obama has a number of goals, but, offers few to no details or plans on how to reach those. And Obama refuses to take on the special interests, clearly one of the greatest threats to America’s future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 2, 2008 4:52 PM
Comment #241989

Above, David says:

Get rid of that “and can win” criterion and support the candidate that you think will best represent your interests presently and for the future.

And yet, on July 30, David also says:

What arrogance to say what criteria other voters should use in casting their vote. Last I checked, there is nothing in our laws or Constitution that restricts voters as to what criteria they use to select their ballot choice.

I’m just sayin’…

Posted by: New Guy on the Block at January 2, 2008 6:41 PM
Comment #242013

Obama has made a significant effort to encourage independents and young adults to caucus in Iowa, in fact, whether or not they show up to caucus may make the difference from him. He doesn’t have the in-your-face message of Edwards or the staunch dependability of Clinton’s army of middle-aged matrons. We’ll know tomorrow if Obama’s rhetoric has been heard by the indies- it could be the factor for him.

Posted by: Krotchett at January 2, 2008 10:06 PM
Comment #242014

I simply don’t trust anybody who claims that we are divided by “false dichotomies” in this country and who promises to bring us all together without offering hard-nosed specifics. The fact is that the dichotomies are very, very real in our politics, and those who deny them are usually trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

What they really mean when they talk like that is this: “If I gain power I am going to advance MY agenda and treat YOUR objections as if they are irrational illusions caused by your inadequate ethics and intelligence. Once you realize this and submit to my power, then we can all get along.”

Being pro-choice of pro-life are not false dichotomies. It is a very serious disagreement, as are matters of taxation, education, immigration, federal spending, and the list goes on.

I can respect somebody who says who says this is what I believe and what I’m going to fight for. This namby-pamby stuff, I have no patience for.

Posted by: Liam at January 2, 2008 10:07 PM
Comment #242016

“Get rid of that “and can win” criterion and support the candidate that you think will best represent your interests presently and for the future. If all American would approach their vote this way, the Media and pollsters would not be able to dictate who is elected long before the election is even held.”

David,

I would have once disagreed with that statement but now I think you’re 100% right. I’ve heard that Nader has actually spoken out in support of Edwards. And Kucinich has spoken out for Obama.

What a grand idea! Just imagine Edwards running as an independent ………. or a candidate of the Green Party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And possibly a Bloomberg indy ticket.

Wow, that would bust the balls of both parties!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Regardless of who won they’d feel the hot breath of the electorate on their neck every day.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 2, 2008 10:19 PM
Comment #242017

KD… I don’t think Edwards would make too much of a dent on the general election as an independent candidate… he is not centrist enough, which you need to be in the egeneral election… especially if you run as an independent. In fact, Edwards running as an independent or Green would all but guarantee an R is in the White House for another four years… Edwards is too smart for that…

And besides… the guy couldn’t carry his own home state as the veep candidate in 04, and he is not leading in the polls there now… if his own home state wont vote for him, why should we?

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 2, 2008 10:24 PM
Comment #242020

Doug,

Was Perot “centrist”? Has Nader ever been “centrist”?

How many times have you heard the term “spoiler” associated with both?

We must also consider Ron Paul’s surge in fundraising and popularity. He’s another potential spoiler.

I’m just suggesting that this could be the perfect environment to change the way “party” politics “works” (er, ah, fails to work).

Can’t fault me for dreaming large :^}

Posted by: KansasDem at January 2, 2008 11:02 PM
Comment #242022

KD… as for your dreaming large, well… I’m with ya, man!

I was reading an article (I can’t seem to locate it just now)today that described Perot as a ‘Reagan Democrat’… so yeah, a bit of a centrist.

And no, Nader could not be considered a centrist… AND… I think it is safe to say that the 565 votes needed to turn the Florida election in 2000 for Gore would have gone to Gore had not Nader been running… which, as a Libertarian, I find rather amusing… but I am guessing you did not?

My point is this… your screen name is “KansasDem”… this leads me to assume that you would much rather the Dem candidate win than the Rep… especially after the last 8 years, no? You don’t think Edwards running as an independent would hurt Clinton or Obama in the general election?

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 2, 2008 11:18 PM
Comment #242026

Here’s that link about Perot (actually more about Bloomberg… but you get the idea).

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 2, 2008 11:59 PM
Comment #242033

Liam,

You are quite right that there are very real differences of opinions on issue after issue. I did not intend to whitewash that truth, nor do I believe that Obama does either. Come back here tomorrow for some more specific support for that claim.

But there are also many either/or formulations that are falsely offered for the PURPOSE of dividing people who are in much more substantial agreement with each other than they have been led to believe.

Obama is a Democrat for a reason, and I don’t naively believe that red meat Republicans would be singing his praises if only they’d give him a chance. Every President in history has been hated by significant minorities, and that will never change. I do believe that we are desperately in need of the type of statesmanship which gives people the opportunity to publicly air their disparate views without being figuratively pilloried by virtually half of the rest of the country.

That is what our audacious hope is all about.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at January 3, 2008 1:39 AM
Comment #242036

New Guy, no you are not just sayin’. You are quoting me sayin’.

You find something odd about both those statements coming from one person? Doesn’t everyone vote for who they think will best represent them now and in the future? And don’t different voters use very different criteria for assessing that choice?

Now you can do some sayin’ by answering these questions which emanate DIRECTLY from the quotes you presented. You have the floor.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 3, 2008 2:08 AM
Comment #242038

Walker
The oiligarchs will not give up the levers of control without a fight. Perhaps there is no possible president we are empowered to elect that could force them too.This Rodney King “Can’t we all just get along”crap won’t get it.One thing history teaches is that power is never granted. It is taken. There is never a movement of power without demand. This is not some misunderstnding that can be worked out if we just listened to each other. Its a struggle. IMO we would be better off with a scrapper. Edwards fits the bill. He got his money taking on corporations and winning.They would put up an arguement and he would knock it down. Both candidates are genuine. Both candidates are better than HC.The reason we do not already have national healthcare in this country is that HC is not a fighter.If the Whitehouse had come out swinging to back her plan we would have it today.
Hate to say it but if Obama gets the nomination I hope there is a plan B. He will most certainly be a target of assasination by rascist elements.

Liam
In a way Walker is right. The many issues that devide working class Americans are false dichotomies.Many of the issues have been planted and fired up for the express purpose of keeping us devided.The real issue is whether this nation is supposed to work to the benefit of the working class or the benefit of the owning class.Do you think that the rich actually care about whether troubled young women get their abortions from a doctor or in a back alley somewhere? It matters not to them. They have always had and always will have access to abortion for their wives and mistresses. Other, more obviously trumped issues like flag burning and gay marriage,school prayer etc. make even less difference to them except as tools to keep us proles from getting to powerful.

Posted by: Bills at January 3, 2008 3:25 AM
Comment #242042

Walker,

I am leaning towards Obama myself, although I wouldn’t say I am “balls out”.

My prediction is that Hillary will win the Iowa caucuses today, and the nomination. It is a depressing fact that the “youth” candidate always loses. But I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by: Woody Mena at January 3, 2008 8:54 AM
Comment #242043

David,

Apologies, near-full-term-babies… (See comments 241973 and 241975 above.)

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 3, 2008 9:25 AM
Comment #242048

David: I thought it was quite obvious. Your two statements directly oppose each other. In one quote you instruct someone to “Get rid of that “and can win” criterion”, thereby telling them why they should or shouldn’t vote for somebody.

The background on the other quote is as such; the writer of the original article was questioning why black voters wouldn’t vote for a black candidate because they think he couldn’t win. The writer then went on to point out that those black voters should not worry about whether or not they think the black candidate could win or not and instead vote for who they are most closely aligned. And your response to that was, “What arrogance to say what criteria other voters should use in casting their vote.”

Funny that your seemingly objective (yet completely opposite) viewpoint in both cases came down against Mr. Obama. Maybe that’s what you are really against?

At any rate, which is it, David? Should you be telling Walker why he shouldn’t vote for Obama just because he thinks that the candidate that can win? Or should you be telling Doug (July 30 article writer) not to give others criteria for their vote?

Posted by: New Guy on the Block at January 3, 2008 11:14 AM
Comment #242050

I’ll be the two per cent that crosses their fingers for Richardson, but that is more likely than not a lost hope. I will vote for him if he is still alive when my primary comes around, regardless of whether or not he can win.

Here’s hoping for the VP nod?

Posted by: New Guy on the Block at January 3, 2008 11:18 AM
Comment #242065

Walker,

You wrote:

Obama’s promise to give the corporations “a seat at the table” when issues impacting them are discussed,

I recently wrote elsewhere:

Free market economics might work. Free market economics might solve the problem - if we had free market economics. It might work if we had a mixed system. The only thing that free market economics has to do with the current system is the words “free market economics” printed on the back of the “mission Accomplished” banner. Free market economics do not build “bridges to no where.” There are no free market economics is this system - none. Private enterprise does not want free market economics. Campaign finance and the privately owned federal reserve are just the opposite of free market economics.

I will support free market economic solutions for a while for you, if you do 2 impossible things for me first. Pass a constitutional amendment that strips person hood status from corporations. Reform campaign finance law to prevent corporations or private enterprise from contributing any money to elections or participating in public politics in any way (just like your beloved charities), and make all elections publically financed.

I also am supporting Obama because I think he has the best chance of winning, followed closely by Edwards. Anybody but Hillary.

Corporations must be stripped of their political power, but they should absolutely have a seat at the table over issues that concern them. We should listen to their concerns. They are experts in their fields and they are the engines of our economy. Listen… …absolutely, but strip them of their political power first.

In order to have any chance of stripping corporations of their political power we must have a president who is not beholding to moneyed interest. Anybody but Hillary.

Of course with exception of Ron Paul, the Republicans all wear the mark of the corporate beast. At the very least, they have the Haliburton logo tattooed on their primary appendage.

Posted by: Ray Guest at January 3, 2008 1:39 PM
Comment #242068

To BillS, Liam, and anyone else concerned about whether his unity message will dilute Obama’s ability to play sufficiently toughly with the moneyed interests who take no quarter:

I agree with Bill that we need a scrapper, and understand the appeal of Edwards populist, no-holds-barred rhetoric, which suggests that scrapper mentality. But I believe that Obama will be a scrapper when it comes to many policy issues, and would point out that there’s no guarantee that Edwards will be, just because his current rhetoric suggests it. Now it’s true that there’s not much in the way of proof that Obama will have the fight in him to take on the powerful interests in defense of society’s marginalized classes. He admits himself that his political career has been charmed with a luck that has kept him largely unbruised as he rose to prominence. But I’m confident that when he was a community organizer there was some scrapping involved.

If you read his book you will discover that Obama knows American history, and can point to conflicts which were no less divisive than today’s political fights. And in many of those struggles we succeeded eventually in moving toward a more inclusive society, where more of us were afforded the opportunity to succeed.

What I see in Obama’s unity rhetoric, is not conciliation but rather an eloquent ability to reframe the issues of the day, so that the best aspects of a progressive message can be seen (as they rightly are!) as movement toward fairness and decency. It is possible to be genuinely understanding of the very real feelings of people on both sides of many issues, and simultaneously upset by the cynical use of some of those feelings in the service of pitting Americans against each other. Too often those of us who are justifiably upset end up alienating decent people with genuine objections to this or that policy by dumping on the whole sector of the population rather than the demagogues such as Karl Rove who have capitalized often on minor differences in pushing through more radical agendas.

If you believe that Obama is guilty of namby-pamby rhetoric which simply tries to satisfy everyone, let me offer this lengthy excerpt from the prologue to “Audacity of Hope”:

I suspect that some readers may find my presentation of [the] issues [in this book] to be insufficiently balanced. To this accusation, I stand guilty as charged. I am a Democrat, after all; my views on most topics correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal. I am angry about policies that consistently favor the wealthy and powerful over average Americans, and insist that government has an important role in opening up opportunity to all. I believe in evolution, scientific inquiry, and global warming; I believe in free speech, whether politically correct or politically incorrect, and I am suspicious of using government to impose anybody’s religious beliefs—including my own—on nonbelievers. Furthermore, I am a prisoner of my own biography: I can’t help but view the American experience through the lens of a black man of mixed heritage, forever mindful of how generations of people who looked like me were subjugated and stigmatized, and the subtle and not so subtle ways that race and class continue to shape our lives.
But that is not all that I am. I also think my party can be smug, detached, and dogmatic at times. I believe in the free market, competition, and entrepreneurship, and think no small number of government programs don’t work as advertised. I wish the country had fewer lawyers and more engineers. I think America has more often been a force for good than for ill in the world; I carry few illusions about our enemies, and revere the courage and competence of our military. I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.
When I fill out issues-based online polls, with amazing consistency most of the Democratic field rates within a narrow range (75% +/-3) of agreeing with me on the issues. This year I believe any one of them has a good shot of winning the general election, so my criterion is NOT electability, but who I think would make the best President. Edwards might be the scrapper he presents himself as, but in that process if he so riles his adversaries and presents an image of a cynical wealthy lawyer which can be attacked - even if it is not true - the process is likely to worsen the climate in which we regularly see relatives screaming at each other over their political differences and the losers of the battles will be licking their wounds to fight another day.

In the article I linked above, it is suggested that Obama’s rhetoric may succeed in creating “Obama Republicans” as Reagan’s did in creating “Reagan Democrats”. Now I always personally rankled at that term, because I saw Reagan’s policies as more dramatically widening the gap between rich and poor, and was convinced that what he really created was a lie which convinced significant minorities into believing that policies designed expressly for the wealthy were actually good for them when they weren’t. But I cannot deny the effectiveness of Reagan’s rhetoric in creating a story which is parroted today in conservative circles as gospel.

Obama is canny enough, however, not to attack a successful story head-on, but rather create a new one which is compelling in its own right, and which a broad range of people with varying ideologies can sign onto. From my perspective though, this new story is a much more honest story - one which celebrates what is good and those aspects which really DO unite us, and for that reason, I’m signing on - for better or worse.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at January 3, 2008 2:03 PM
Comment #242071

Ray,
I agree fully with you on the need to repeal “corporate personhood” which I understand is built on a series of Supreme Court rulings (starting with this one) which were supposedly based on the Fourteenth Amendment (which freed the slaves.) When this issue is properly understood, as completely distinct from the rules of incorporation which protect entrepreneurs from liability, I do not think it will be such a stretch to convince most reasonable people that reversing it is in the general public interest. There is little hope of getting the issue even raised however, as long as a corporatist (such as Clinton or almost any Republican as you note) is in the White House.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at January 3, 2008 2:20 PM
Comment #242072
The real issue is whether this nation is supposed to work to the benefit of the working class or the benefit of the owning class.

I’m surprised to hear you say such a thing right after saying that many of the issues that divide working class Americans are “false dichotomies.”

That is probably the most false dichotomy of all—the idea that the working class or the “owining class” are totally separate and have opposite interests. Working class people own property, pay taxes on it, and have things like retirement packages which are highly dependent on the fluctuations of the stock market. Also, who do they work for? Companies, for the most part, or the government, which receives its revenues from the taxes paid by companies.

It’s not a zero sum game. Working class people and “owners,” when they are not the same people, need each other.

Furthermore, I do not see the government’s proper role as favoring one class over another, even if those classes have separate interests, which I don’t believe is actually the case.

Posted by: Liam at January 3, 2008 2:23 PM
Comment #242088

Liam
Furthermore, I do not see the government’s proper role as favoring one class over another, even if those classes have separate interests…


Exactly. I would submit that things are badly out of balance currently.We need a president to even the playing field. I could give you tons of statistics showing the dramatic shift in wealth distribution in the last several years and some of the many ways government has been a tool to that end. You can see that yourself,if you look.Some broader manifestations that are obvious:Healthcare in the US is behind every other first world country in the world in percent of citizens covered and general quality. It is also the most expensive.Why? The answer is obvious. It is the political power of large insurance corporations.Another broad example:We have known full well that oil dependance,especially dependance on forign oil is a risky policy and bad for the enviorment since at least the early 70’s. Since then our dependance has done nothing but increase. Why?Government policies have favored increased use of oil and avoided largely,favoring conservation and alternate use.This is a reflection of the power of the oil trust and little else.
This imbalance is nothing new in American history.Its been a constant tension since Andrew Jackson was president.The reason this is still a great country is because other presidents have moved boldly to correct the imbalance in the past.The rosevelts for example. Edwards has something of FDR about him.

Posted by: BillS at January 3, 2008 4:51 PM
Comment #242090

BillS… Edwards? There is something slimy and fishy about him… heck, he couldn’t even carry his own home state when he was on the ticket in ‘04… and he is not leading there now amongst the Dems… if his own neighbors won’t trust him with the keys… why the heck should we?

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 3, 2008 4:57 PM
Comment #242095

Doug said: “Edwards? There is something slimy and fishy about him”

Hmm… couldn’t think of a single rational, objective, defensible, empirical criticism of Edwards, huh?

As for his neighbors, did it ever occur to you that his home state though, predominantly Republican, also contains a few million upstanding American citizens of the other political persuasion, one of whom, like Edwards, might decide to run for President? Pretty simple and more objective explanation for why Democratic candidate might not have majority support from his home state, than that the candidate is, what were your subjective terms, oh yeah, “slimy and fishy”.

I can assure you, Doug, on the basis of your analysis of Edwards, I would never give you my proxy to vote for a director of a charity or dog catcher, that’s for sure.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 3, 2008 5:24 PM
Comment #242096

I thought the economy was supposed to work for both labor and owners and management. I am sure I read and heard that a number of times in my economics courses.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 3, 2008 5:26 PM
Comment #242100

David… You are correct that NC is predominantly Republican, but he was elected for a term in the Senate by those same Republicans and, upon seeing his record in office, those citizens have since thought better of it.

Yes… there are many fine examples of citizens in the political minority of their states running successful presidential campaigns… Reagan and B. Clinton come to mind, so that has nothing to do with it. In fact, both examples cited above won their home states handily, despite the idealogical differences with the majority of residents in those states. Edwards does not seem capable of crossing that divide. Has there ever been a successful presidential bid where the victor failed to win his home state?

As to your comment about my ‘fishy’ comment… hey, that’s your opinion. But, if someone with the most impeccable resume’ (which Edwards clearly lacks) I have ever seen were to apply to give childcare to my children but I got a bad feeling from them, I can assure you I would not hire them. The same thing goes for running my country.

And don’t you worry yerself none David, I have no desire to seek your proxy to vote for dogcatcher.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 3, 2008 5:53 PM
Comment #242102

I nearly always disagree with KansasDem, and more often than not with David Remer, but on the matter of voting what people really want in a politician and not voting for what they think “can win” I’m on-board 100%. The corruption in the current system traces largely to people voting for some ‘team’ instead of the vision they really believe would make a better world.

For goodness sakes be FOR something! What we have right now is a government made of flavorless people principally interested in not losing power once they have it. From that standpoint even I would rather have Biden than Obama.

I’ve got to go wash my mouth out with soap, now.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 3, 2008 6:42 PM
Comment #242104

I would like to say ‘ditto’ to Lee’s remarks… even on the Biden front… he is certainly the best Dem of the field, of course, that is a relative statement!

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 3, 2008 6:52 PM
Comment #242106

Lee,

You wrote:

I nearly always disagree with KansasDem, and more often than not with David Remer, but on the matter of voting what people really want in a politician and not voting for what they think “can win” I’m on-board 100%.

The number one thing that needs to be done to solve this problem is some form of rank order or instant run off voting which would allow people to vote their hearts and their heads.

If the major media convinces the majority of people that a candidate cannot win, then that candidate cannot win. This or that individual or groups of individuals deciding to vote their heart will not change that fact. For example, people who support Nader’s ideas need to be able to express that support without feeling like they are throwing their vote away.

Under those conditions a third party / third tier candidate might even have a chance. A Kucinich or a Paul could conceivably get elected.

Posted by: Ray Guest at January 3, 2008 7:00 PM
Comment #242109

Doug Langsworthy
Let me guess. Did you think that Al Gore and John Kerry were also “slimey and fishy”?
The results of SC resulted because a majority of the voters made a mistake as sometimes happens in a democracy. I would suggest that after 8 years of Bushco and the Rep leadership many have realized their error and are not likely to make the same mistake again.

Posted by: BillS at January 3, 2008 7:46 PM
Comment #242110

BillS… you shouldn’t assume me a Republican supporter… I did find Gore slimy due to his unnecessary lies about the Texas floods in Debate number 1, and admit to being duped to Bush’s ‘Pal-o-mine’ smile and image… in retrospect, Gore might have been slightly better… but hey, I voted for Harry Browne in 2000, so, as the old bumper sticker says, don’t blame me, I voted for the other guy! But seriously folks…

As for John Kerry, well, I didn’t find him any slimier than any other Rep or Dem, but, as in 2000, I voted for neither and instead went the Michael Badnarik route in 2004.

In all actuality, the Dem I was most intrigued by in 2004 was Dean… he was no where near as liberal as the right wingers would lead you to believe, but as they have don all this young century, they did a great job of painting him so…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 3, 2008 8:06 PM
Comment #242115

“your screen name is “KansasDem”… this leads me to assume that you would much rather the Dem candidate win than the Rep… especially after the last 8 years, no? You don’t think Edwards running as an independent would hurt Clinton or Obama in the general election?”

Doug Langworthy,

Yeah, I’m a Democrat. I’ve looked at the other parties and still the Democratic Party is the best fit for me, but the past year has left me disappointed and disgusted.

I would certainly NOT have to hold my nose to vote Green, or for any independent with a populist message. Then there’s the Hillary factor. I would have to hold my nose to vote for Hillary.

I’d just love to see both major parties really shaken up ……. from the ground up. Maybe then we could get away from the status quo.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 3, 2008 9:36 PM
Comment #242116

KD… I can appreciate that. Thanks for the reply.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 3, 2008 9:56 PM
Comment #242140

KD
You get your wish. Iowa results:HC 3rd behind Obama and Edwards.Better than 60% support change candidates.
Rep side: Huckabee.More change. He’s a crackpot,but genuine and not as buyable.Would you lend your lawnmower to Romney?

Posted by: BillS at January 4, 2008 3:17 AM
Comment #242141

KD
PS GOD(really), I hope they are stuck with Huckabee.The chief exective mentally disturbed crackpot. OOPs, that worked for them before,huh?We have our work cut out in any case.

Posted by: Bills at January 4, 2008 3:24 AM
Comment #242158

Doug said: “Yes… there are many fine examples of citizens in the political minority of their states running successful presidential campaigns… Reagan and B. Clinton come to mind, so that has nothing to do with it.”

Thank you for demonstrating a lack of understanding of political calculus. Our history also has many examples of minority candidates being one term politicians. There is something called the reactionary vote, which condemns the incumbent by electing an opposition challenger. Doesn’t mean the majority party supports the challenger, they are just rebuking their own party’s incumbent, similar to the 4% of Republicans who turned out to Caucus for Obama last night. Doesn’t mean they became Democrats philosophically. Just means they are royally upset at Bush and the Republicans in Congress for failing to live up to GOP platform objectives.

Such calculus CAN have EVERYTHING to do with it, your naive comment to the contrary.

Also in the calculus is the probability factor that if a candidate wins the national delegate majority, the probability is high they also won their home state. Winning or losing one’s home state is NOT predictive of national outcome, only correlative.

A probability and statistics textbook will define the difference between predictive and correlative if those terms are vague to you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2008 9:09 AM
Comment #242162

David… you’re pretty funny, I have to give you that… you didn’t rebuke a thing I said. What does your 4% in Iowa number have to do with the price of tea in China?

As far as your stupid statistics comment, I am familiar with those terms. And in making that moronic statement, you only help to prove my point. Never once did I say or even imply that winning one’s home state means that one will win an election (Mondale in 84 is a good example). What I did say, if you chose to actually read my post and not make idiotic comments that have nothing to do with anything, is that it is extremely difficult to win a general election if one does not win their own home state. I challenge you to give me a historical example of someone doing so.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 4, 2008 10:30 AM
Comment #242164

Doug, when the person I debate feels compelled to resort to words like stupid and moronic as counterpoint, I know I have won the debate.

Thank you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2008 10:54 AM
Comment #242165

“Would you lend your lawnmower to Romney?”

Nope. His illegal immigrant groundskeepers would probably walk off with it. :-(

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 4, 2008 10:57 AM
Comment #242166

David, if you choose to concede, then it is me who should be thanking you. My point wasn’t made by those words, but rather by facts that you are not able to refute.

I’ll make you a deal… stop calling my comments naive, and I will stop calling yours moronic.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at January 4, 2008 10:59 AM
Comment #242176

BillS:

You get your wish. Iowa results:HC 3rd behind Obama and Edwards.Better than 60% support change candidates.

It’s great news, and it’s about time.

Rep side: Huckabee.More change. He’s a crackpot,but genuine and not as buyable.Would you lend your lawnmower to Romney?

Seems like the GOP is in big, big trouble to me. That authoritarian christianist rhetoric can’t possibly play across the entire country. Or can it? Romney strikes me as about as inauthentic and phony as it gets. Thompson is incoherent, and McCain either isn’t well liked, or doesn’t have nearly as much support as he used to have.

Posted by: veritas vincit at January 4, 2008 12:10 PM
Comment #242178

I voted for Obama in the primary and the general election in 2004 in IL. Recently, I looked back at my comments in another forum from that time period. I had forgotten why Obama won the election. He won that election mostly because of allegations that surfaced during his opponents divorce from actress Jeri Ryan. Her character on Boston Public was based on her ex, a good guy businessman who gave up the corporate world to teach in an urban school. The Rpblcns had nominated someone who was actually acceptable in Illinois. When the allegations came out, he lost most of the support of his own
party, and they were even trying to replace him on the ticket. So its not like Obama won some big victory in Illinois when he was elected to the senate.

The Iowa primary results are actually more impressive than his election to the senate.

Posted by: ohrealy at January 4, 2008 12:26 PM
Comment #242222

David R,

Walker, there you go using that “And can win” criterion. You cannot know whether Edwards, Obama, Clinton, or Biden can or cannot win.
I let this comment slide, but really ought to have pointed out that there was nothing in my post to suggest that I was using such a criterion. I only noted the rarity that someone who I can get excited about supporting actually is given reasonable odds (yes, by pundits) of winning the election.

I do share your frustration that a few big voices in the media can so effectively convince so many that so-and-so is “unelectable” when there has been no real demonstration of that. I attended my county convention in 2004 as a Kucinich delegate, so I know about supporting a candidate that the media writes off. Please don’t presume that my decision to back Obama this time around in spite of the fact that he doesn’t line up as well with me issues-wise as Kucinich is based on the “can win” criterion. Maybe I just believe he would be a more effective President and more of a statesman.

That said, New Guy is correct that we all have a perfect right to use any criteria we choose when deciding who to support, and perception of electability is one measure many people do use. I agree with you that it is over-rated, but it makes a lot more sense than some of the much sillier reasons that often go into that choice.

Lastly, someone who chooses to run under the banner of one of our two major parties cannot win unless they win the nomination of their party. As the primary season progresses that number will get winnowed - note that Dodd & Biden have already been thus eliminated, even though I believe fully that either one of them would have a great chance against any number of the Republican contenders in a general election. That simply doesn’t matter any more.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at January 4, 2008 4:00 PM
Comment #242246

I find myself for the first time being quite willing to support any of the Democratic potential candidates. The negative part of that is that I am still deciding for whom to vote when we get the chance here in California.

I think judging the electability issue is of less importance to the voters this time, but conversely, it is manifesting itself in the public personas of the candidates. Whereas I believe the top Dems are likely showing their genuine stand on issues, I suspect there is more deliberate control over how they want their personalities to appear to the public.

I find myself wondering if Hilary Clinton and her advisers are so terrified of the public being convinced by the Republicans that a woman is inherently inappropriate, that she has gone to tremendous lengths to appear hard-nosed, and plain tough. For me, this is backfiring, but I am not this country’s typical voter.

The damage done to Dean in the last election by one enthusiastic “war whoop” and the portrayal of that by the press, obliterated his candidacy. I think the candidates and their staffs are remembering this. Even in this forum, some are falling into single facet portrayals of the people involved. The personality single sentence summaries are no more indicative of the whole candidate than are the 15 second sound bites.
Candidacy today requires more than good ideas, honesty,experience and the generally considered qualifications for the job. Unfortunately charisma is a make or break issue with the American people. Reagan had it for the majority of the population, but I think it was entirely because as an actor (even a mediocre actor) he knew how to read a script.

I fear that this is so powerful that it often transcends issues. I suspect that is why here in the same California that brings us Barbara Boxer (thank-you-thank-you!)we have the Arnold.

I am deeply hopeful for this election, because it seems to me that all of the major Democratic possibilities have that ingredient. I have sometimes idly wondered if we had a royal family to take care of the pageantry and charisma issues, if we might have an easier time electing capable, intelligent heads of state.


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