Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Empire Strikes Back

Like a Star Wars saga, the Presidential election, with it's complicated currents of opinion and momentum took an interesting turn yesterday. For one thing, the citizens of New Hampshire gave a rousing EFFF-YOU to the pundits who had buried Hillary Clinton. Obama was able to use his Iowa victory to make progress in New Hampshire, but not enough to overcome a stout and impassioned campaign by Hillary Clinton. Hillary, for all her faults and political baggage is a force to be reckoned with and will need to be considered in due time.

As a new Obama supporter (Biden having dropped out), I was hoping for a victory for Obama. However, it wasn't to be. Obama's concession speech was a thing of beauty, and Hillary's victory speech showed that she still has the passion and concern to try to pitch her case to the American people. Edward's weak showing should give him encouragement to leave the race. Edwards has been a powerful and compelling voice for change, but his voice is being drowned out by Obama's. Edwards at some point must realize that every vote for him, is also a vote not going for Obama and is therefore helping Hillary Clinton.

As for the Hillary victory, it garnered her 9 delegates. Obama received 9 as well. In the overall scheme of things, it was not a crushing victory or defeat for either Obama or Clinton. It did signify that this race is far from over. The complicated currents in our body politic is churning beyond the labels and mindless rhetoric the pundits live in. In both the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, the pundits were wrong on many levels, taking sides and trying to create momentum for their own choices. And the people said, "enough, I'll decide for myself."

I'm encouraged by many things in this campaign. For one thing, more people are voting on the Democratic side than on the Republican side. I'm reminded of a high school football game, where the cheerleaders cheer, "we got spirit, yes we do,we got spirit, how bout you." Right now, the Democrats have more spirit, but this isn't really a football game. The candidates will need to continue to articulate their vision for our Republic and address some of the most pressing issues we face. How they do that may still determine who moves on to the November election.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Huckabee's Victory and What it Means

Huckabee’s victory has put me in a position of great discomfort. I, just like the neocons, are deeply troubled by Huckabee’s victory, but for completely different reasons. The neocon strategy has always been to build a pro-business coalition, using wedge issues important to the religious right to get most Americans to vote against their own economic self-interest. Americans, concerned about health care, education, declining standard of living, and jobs moving overseas, have overlooked these issues and focused on abortion, gay rights and internal security as the main issues. Huckabee, with his populist side appeals to the issues the neocons wish to ignore.

The religious right, has always been welcomed on the Republican flight to power. However, it has always been a given that they would be riding coach. Huckabee’s rise threatens the neocon strategy. The monster they’ve created is now at risk of devouring them. And though I can’t help but snicker at the irony, I also realize the threat the religious right is to our Republic and to our future progress as a diverse and vibrant society. More than Huckabee’s campaign, it is the fuel that is moving that campaign forward that I fear.