Saturday, March 22, 2008

Barack Obama for President

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I've come to a decision: For me, it's Obama, or no one.

I'm not kidding myself, deluding myself about the neglible impact this blog has: in about three and a half years, about 39,000 pages have been read by about 23,000 people, of whom 16,000 have returned at least once; several dozen people read the blog regularly, returning at an average of four per day. So what I'm about to say should not be read in the sense that I believe it will make any sort of difference. It's not about that. It's not about me. It is not about this blog. It is merely a statement of conviction.

Unless Hillary Clinton wins the not only the superdelegate count, but the delegate count, the greatest number of states, and the raw vote total, I will not vote for her in the upcoming election. I will not be a party (if you will) to the high-jacking of democracy. I've had it with political gamesmanship, horse races, strong-arm tactics, and cynicism. I think Bill Richardson has had it with all those things, too, and that's why he took an enormous chance (if Obama loses, does Richardson have much of a future in a Clinton-dominated Democratic Party?) and endorsed Barack Obama. I hope Al Gore, John Edwards, and more prominent Democrats do in the days to come.
If, at the end of this process, Hillary does legitimately win the Democratic nomination for Presdident of the United States of America, I will, of course, vote for her. Even though I thought Bill Clinton was only a good President and not a great one (and he was more a Republican than a Democratic President), I am not a mindless Clinton-hater. I voted for Hillary Clinton as my Senator when I lived in New York in 2000. And I felt proud and privileged to do so.
But if Hillary Clinton wins this nomination without the greatest number of votes, the greatest number of states, and the greatest number of delegates, but because of some residual power of the spineless DLC faction within the Democratic Party, because of deal-making and arm-breaking, because of the sort of back-room politics that tainted the Democratic image in the last century, you can count me out.
I will not vote for Hillary Clinton.
I've seen too much excitement in the Democratic Party in the last year -- too many new voters, too many younger voters, too many first-time voters, too many voters who were, not long ago, too jaded and cynical to even trust the system -- to have it destroyed by political maneuvering and shenanigans. To be sure, some of the excitement is the result of our first female candidate for President of the United States. But there is more than a little evidence (see, for example, here, here, and here) that her candidacy is getting help from Republicans who are mortally afraid of a Barack Obama candidacy.
But the numbers, as of now, are on Barack Obama's side. And that's where I am standing. If the numbers continue to favor Obama, but he is not nominated, I will not vote for McCain. I Will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I may vote for Ralph Nader.
Note: Please tell your Democratic Party leaders in your area that you don't want any nonsense. The nominee of the Democratic Party should be the person who wins the primary campaign -- the whole campaign. If you feel the way I do, that to give the nomination to anyone who doesn't win it outright is wrong, and that you won't vote for an illegitimate nominee, please tell them that.


GPGradStudent said...

I have come to the same conclusion. If Obama wins the nomination, I will vote for him. If Clinton wins, I will vote for Nader. McCain does not interest me. One reason is Sen. Clinton's disgusting campaign. A larger reason has do with my sense that we are in a place we have not been in for more than a generation.

It has been observed that there are four kinds of American presidential elections: realigning elections, deviating elections, restoring elections, and continuing elections. Realigning elections are the most important; they establish a general direction or tone which dominates American politics for decades. The two clearest examples in the 20th century were 1932 and 1980. Usually, these elections introduce a period of time which historians later set aside as a discernable epoch, such as "The Gilded Age" or "The New Deal Era." I think the epoch we are currently in will be identified as "The Second Gilded Age," or something to that effect. It began in 1980.

Deviating elections introduce temporary "time outs" from these periods but do not fundamentally change them. Two clear examples of them are 1952 and 1992. Eisenhower slowed the New Deal down a bit, but he did not significantly dismantle it. Clinton slowed Reaganism down a bit, but he did not signficantly dismantle it. His welfare reform, free trade policies, military adventurism (though it would pale compared to Bush II's), and many of his economic policies were quite different from what was typical of pre-Reagan Democrats.

For this reason, Kennedy's victory in 1960 and Bush II's victory (or, if you prefer, court appointment) in 2000 represented the third type of presidential election, a restoring election. They restored the general direction or trend set down by the previous realigning election.

Continuing elections, such as 1956, 1984, 1988, 1996, and 2004, are the simplest of the four types; they simply continue whatever happened four years before. Thus, in our current era, which I've dubbed "The Second Gilded Age," 1980 was the realigning election; 1984 and 1988 continued it; 1992 introduced a deviation; 1996 continued the deviation; 2000 restored the realignment begun in 1980; and 2004 continued the restoration.

The question before us is whether 2008 will be a realigning election. For the first time since 1980, I think the answer is "yes." I had hoped against hope in 1984 and 1988 that Mondale and Dukakis could prove 1980 to be a deviating election, but though I campaigned for both of those Democrats, I always had the feeling we were swimming against the current. I voted for Clinton in 1992 and Gore in 2000 hoping those years would prove realigning elections, but Clinton, as stated above, was to Reagan what Eisenhower was to FDR, and Gore, of course, did not become president.

This year, however, with 60 percent of Americans wanting U.S. troops out of Iraq within a year, the economy in recession, the dollar tanking, Hispanics emerging as a larger portion of the voting population, evangelical Christians (probably) beginning to split their votes, and, perhaps most importantly, a pervading sense that this is no longer the America that any of us older than 12 recognize, the Democrats have their best chance in 28 years of realigning American politics. The Republicans, by contrast, are faced with the task of winning a third consecutive presidential election (difficult even in good times) while following a president who is probably the nation's least popular chief executive since Hoover.

Because Obama is a fresh face with obvious intellectual gifts, impressive leadership qualities, and a compelling personal story, he is the Democrat most capable of inspiring a new era in American politics. The Reagan Revolution crashed and burned under Bush II, but we still must pick up the pieces and take them somewhere people will follow. Sen. Clinton, both because she is a Clinton and because she is a longtime DLCer, cannot do this. The Clinton name, like the Bush name, is forever linked with the Second Gilded Age. She cannot produce a genuine realignment.

Dr. Fallon said...

Wow, GP, what a fantastic analysis! You've brought a whole new dimension to this primary season for me. I thank you very much for your astute comments, and I hope you will visit this blog frequently.

Does GP stand for government/politics?

Thanks for stopping by.

GPGradStudent said...

Actually, I am a Ph.D. student in History. I became interested in your blog and university Web site because my dissertation concerns the history of radio. One chapter will examine the nature of the medium, particularly as it relates to religion, so I have just begun diving into the world of media ecology, McLuhan, etc.

Dr. Fallon said...

My new book, "The Metaphysics of Media," spends a fair number of pages considering the effects of electronic media on the experience of faith and their focus on our sensory experience.

I once considered majoring in History rather than media studies and getting a Master's degree. I may still try for a Master's some day.

If you've seen my RU website you know my e-mail address. Drop me a line some time; I may have a proposition for you. In the meantime, thanks again for stopping by here. Don't be a stranger.

Paul Levinson said...

Thanks for your response to my Open Letter to Obama Supports from an Obama Supporter>, Peter ...

Let me just raise one point, here, which I also did in my response to your comment on my blog page.

Are you really sure the country can get by with another Republican administration? Are you willing to accept the death of thousands of Americans in Iraq that a McCain admin will likely bring - not to mention our getting involved in military action against Iran and who knows where else?

I won't happily vote for Hillary in any case - Obama will make a much better President - but I think we all need to hold open what we will do in the awful circumstance of Obama not getting the nomination (which, in fact, I think will not be the case - I'm relatively confident that Obama will get the nomination, and I intend to continue to work as hard as I can to make that happen).

Dr. Fallon said...

Hey, Paul--

Thanks for your responses.

I will certainly vote for Hillary if she is the nominee, that is, the legitimate nominee of the Democratic Party. As a New Yorker in 2000, it was my honor to vote for her as my Senator.

But there are principles at risk. This is a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool moral/ethical dilemma, every bit as real a threat to the idea of democracy as the Bush administration's flouting of the Constitution for the last seven years.

My statement was that I will not vote for Hillary if her nomination comes at the expense of the will of the people. If she has a plurality of popular votes, the majority of electoral votes, and the greatest number of states, I will surely have no problem with her as nominee. But I don't see things moving in that direction. And I do see her and her campaign making statements that are, if not antithetical to democracy, at least not in a position to sit comfortably with it.

Yes, I am absolutely certain that we will survive four years of McCain, if it comes to that. My golly, of course we will. We have survived many bad Presidents in our history. If we make it to next January without having started a global war (I mean a real one, not a sound-bite-and-slogan one), it seems likely we will survive the worst president in US history. I think we can survive four years of McCain. I'm not sure American democracy can survive, however, if we don't take it seriously in principle.

It's the very idea of democracy, based on the principle of the will of the people, that is at stake.

That's why, if her nomination does not legitimately reflect the will of Democratic voters, I WILL NOT VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON

Paul Levinson said...

Check how many people did in Iraq while Bush has President, even with a Democratic Congress.

That's a start at knowing how well we would survive a McCain Presidency...

Anonymous said...

If Obama wins I will vote for McCain, period.