Saturday, February 16, 2008

Political Ponderings

The other day after the Obama rally in Virginia Beach, I posted a diary over on Pam’s House Blend which seems to have apparently greatly upset some of Hillary's supporters a number of whom have pummeled me in their comments. Therefore, I felt it best to further restate my argument that caused such a gnashing of teeth on the part of some. I also want to comment to remarks I heard on MSNBC this morning where some commentators – and Hillary’s campaign – are trying to compare Obama followers to a cult. My first comments are a statement of what I said on Pam Spaulding’s blog when critics tried to minimize Obama’s win in Virginia:

First, Virginia's population ranks 12th nationally in terms of population, so how a candidate performs here is not as insignificant as some would pretend. Moreover, the population is an interesting mix ranging from the liberal Washington, D.C., suburbs to reactionary Southwest Virginia, to the large military population in Tidewater Virginia.

Second, the primary results are in and the margin for Obama was staggering: locally, Obama carried the Hampton Roads area by percentages ranging from 65% in conservative Virginia Beach to 79% in Hampton. Norfolk went for Obama with him receiving 71% of the votes. Even in reactionary Chesapeake where Huckabee beat McCain 48% to 44%, Obama got 71% of the vote. Statewide, Obama received 30% more votes that ALL of the votes cast in the GOP primary. Hillary only received votes equaling 72% of the total GOP vote.

Third, an interesting phenomenon occurred: the number of Republicans voting in the Democrat primary - for Hillary. I witnessed it myself at my precinct as did a number of friends (some GOP friends even confessed that they did it). Why did they do it? They wanted Hillary to win because they see her as more easily defeated in November. Without such voters, Hillary would have been even more resoundingly beaten by Obama.

Fourth, as readers know, I am a former GOP activist (I left the party when the Christianists took control) and I come from a family that historically has generally voted for and/or contributed to the GOP. In addition, I have worked on quite a few campaigns. In this primary, ALL in my family voted for Obama and will vote for him in November. By the same token, most of them will vote for McCain if Hillary is the Democrat nominee. I would further add that many of the members of the GOP that I still am in contact with likewise will NEVER vote for Hillary, although they would vote for Obama. Hillary supporters may want to suppress this reality, but it is a reality.

As for the cult allegation, I think it comes from a couple of sources, the first of which is the jaded nature of political commentators and political insiders who do NOT want a change in the way politics are conducted in this country. Should Obama be elected and make good on some of his goals, many political insiders would find their secure little world turned upside down. God forbid that they lose their insider connections and/or influence.

I believe that the other reason Obama is turning out such crowds is that many in this country are disillusioned and desperately want a change in direction. Younger people want to put the misbegotten Bush/Cheney years behind them and to have a sense of hope. Many commentators do not consider how badly Bush’s re-election impacted young voters. My own son for instance called me the day after the election and was all set to move to Canada. Likewise many working class and middle class families have been “playing by the rules” and find themselves increasingly worse off financially – even with both spouses working. More of the same politics under either Hillary or McCain will not provide them with a chance for a better life. They see the system as being broken and Obama is the only candidate talking about systemic change. Perhaps Obama will not be able to deliver if elected, but he at least offers hope to a disillusioned citizenry. Hope is an important element in allowing one to soldier on.

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