The Voting Guide
Or maybe you’re a long-time Bill Clinton supporter, and you’re still furious about Obama’s campaign saying that humanitarian Bill Clinton was racist when he dared to bring up the large percentage of black voters in the South Carolina primary, still dismayed that Obama would dare to conflate Bush and Clinton policies while praising Reagan.
Or maybe you were an early supporter of another potential candidate, an Al Gore say, and you were horrified from the beginning that Hillary Clinton would suck the money out of the Democratic Party like George W. Bush did to the Republicans in 2000, push out other favorable contenders, and leave the Democrats with either a choice that would rally Clinton-haters countrywide or present us with an untested choice with nothing to lose.
Speaking to Obama Believers is utterly infuriating, and distressing. You see the flip side of the Freepers (the nickname for the freakish right-wingers at freerepublic.com), the true believers, who have left all rationality behind, who are living by associating themselves with a “movement”. It’s pure pack behavior, drones who’ve attached themselves to an all-powerful alpha male. If the pack is attacked, they roar back, with the most scurilous attacks. Then, the next minute, they’re playing victim, playing up the most minor criticism or comment into dirty politics. There’s a theory that ideological behavior is not linear, cut circular – the far left is not on the opposite end of the spectrum from the far right, but rather, the space is curved, and the behaviors begin to resemble each other. True believing, no matter the ideology, breeds totalitarianism.
The good news for moderates is: Obama appears to be not nearly as radical as many of his followers. He understands that a middle-class stimulus is important because two thirds of the economy is consumer demand, although he does seem to have a bit of that ideological disease – in general, it may be correct to acknowledge that progressive tax rates have basis in the economic fact that the upper class gains relatively more benefit per dollar than the poor, because of available money and connections, but it is probably foolish to raise any taxes in a time of recession. And, all must remember that the Supreme Court is currently a 4-4-1 split, and the liberals on the Court are ready to retire – the last thing this country needs is 7 or 8 conservatives on the Court. It would be best, of course, if the Court had 9 moderates (if such people exist anymore), but that seems to be an impossible task in this era. And Obama’s choice of Joe Biden must be respected – given the dangerous nature of Biden’s speaking style, this choice was clearly about governing and not politics.
And John McCain, the Great American Maverick, rather than hewing to classic general election strategy and heading for the middle, has fallen into the trap of attempting to resurrect the ghosts of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, presenting the country with a used-up, anachronistic world-view of American Exceptionalism and a domestic view of capitalists as American Brahmins. If Barack Obama could not convince the electorate with over 20 months of generalities, it only took an hour or two of the Republican Convention to remember that, until the GOP somehow regains it’s moderate voice, until we start seeing Republicans in power like Howard Baker and Charles “Mac” Mathias, that they cannot be trusted to govern this country, or to lead this world.
McCain has run one of the worst, and bizarre, general election campaigns in memory. It began perhaps out of his control, with the tired conservative tirades at the podium of the GOP Convention – apparently it is more acceptable to be a crazy conservative in this country than a crazy liberal. The reason for that would be that liberals don’t appreciate craziness nearly as much as conservatives. Extremism in either case resembles a type of xenophobia, which most liberals and moderates do not tolerate. And then, the craven and purely political choice of Sarah Palin, a pander to still angry Hillary Clinton supporters, and a salve to extreme conservative elements of the party – which these days seems to be a majority of Republicans.
What seemed a potentially brilliant political choice soured when it became apparent that Palin was virtually incompetent. It should have been no surprise that the current governor of a mini-petrostate, which draws one third of it’s economy from oil and another third from the federal government, and who has no federal experience (or apparently knowledge), would end up wearing poorly on the American public. Add to that McCain’s utterly irresponsible actions during the Congressional deliberations over the bailout, where he seemed to be merely looking for any group of cameras available, and Palin’s ridiculous accusations of terrorist associations and socialism, and McCain/Palin seemed more like the dangerous, reckless radicals rather than the classically safe GOP choice.
Was McCain fearful of an attack from the right? The only one out there was Bob Barr – was he really a threat? Would conservatives have really avoided the polls if McCain had attempted to embrace the center, or at least the right-of-center? Perhaps politicians and their consultants place too much emphasis on big rallies, even though we saw in the New Hampshire Democratic primary that huge crowds don’t necessarily translate into victories. Was this the main reason they picked Sarah Palin?
It is quite possible that had McCain picked an experienced moderate such as Tom Ridge that he would have won the election. Whatever he lost on the right he would have picked up in the middle and more. But the maverick who faced down his party until the last few years finally lost his nerve. The one dangerous play he should have made was to head for the center, to risk the support of the far right to gain the support of the American people. In the end McCain trusted the GOP more than America itself.
But, of course, there’s that Obama thing – he’s been more specific during the general election cycle, but it is hard to shake the feeling that he is floating along on this wave of unfounded admiration, buoyed by legions of accolytes, those folks who seem to have a need to belong, like those high-schoolers who felt subhuman unless they were accepted by the cool kids. But Obama himself does not seem to buy into that, and on the other side is that insane GOP.
So, the suggestion from these quarters would be: If you’re in a swing state, vote for Obama. Don’t do a Nader. Even if you have some friend whose has utterly ticked you off with his Obama support, don’t vote for Obama, but vote against the GOP by voting for Obama. But if you’re in a safe state, red or blue, and there’s a good alternative or you can write in, vote for someone you like. Check the polls – two great sites for tracking polls are fivethirtyeight.com and electoral-vote.com.