14
Feb
08

Hyperbole

This morning on one of Ezra’s posts about Clinton’s position re: seating the MI and FL delegates, a commenter compared the MI ballot to a hypothetical rigged election in the former Communist Soviet Union. 

Meanwhile, Sara over at Ornicus spent some quality time intelligently and calmly critiquing the latest *meme* that Obama is a cult figure (click HERE for a hilarious satire of Obama as Messiah). 

Then this afternoon one of the WI voters I was calling on behalf of the Clinton campaign told me she doesn’t discuss her vote with anyone.  As a reticent New Englander who recently lectured the M.A.S. that his inquiries into people’s voting preferences was invasive, I understood her position perfectly.  But more so, I found her stance of privacy to be at complete odds with the elevating on-line fracas (that I am admittedly participating in) over who should be our Democratic nominee, as the blogosphere’s tendency towards verbose hostility and invective merges fluidly with the factional and highly charged Democratic primary contest. 

Clearly I get off on this stuff. Although my skin proved too thin to weather much of the similar in-fighting going on in the Gulf Coast over redevelopment power and resources, my mind remains utterly captivated by such conflict – where the issues at hand may be very real (what kind of leadership do we want after 8 miserable years) but become almost totally lost due to the emotionally charged accusations of bias and distortion – whether due to perceived racism, sexism, elitism, INSERT -ism HERE – regarding the candidates’ moral worth, political acumen, privilege, or qualifications. 

After leaving NYC as a registered Democrat happily satisfied with *Republican* Bloomberg, I registered as an Independent here in MA in 2004.  Surely an example of a vestige of our enduring Democratic political machine, when I voted last Super Tuesday – as an Independent – the police officer who sits at the table where I hand in my ballot asked me if I’d look to choose a party affiliation before I left, given I was “unaffiliated.”  Caught off guard by the inquiry, the inquirer, and his word choice, I chose Democrat rather than be an “unaffiliated” voter.  (The horror!)  It was only later in the day that I realized what I had been was an “Independent” voter.  (Does this count as coercion at the polls?)

I share this anecdote because one of the many internal contradictions I’m experiencing this Campaign is being affiliated, generally speaking, with Party line Dems who are aghast at Obama’s milking his Independent and cross-over appeal.   When the Dems retook Congress in ’06, I wrote a(n apparently) provocative post at TPM Cafe celebrating the rise of the Independent voter (how self-congratulatory!) and increased diversity at the voting booth.  That this change is hurting the candidate I’m supporting is both ironic and annoying, but nonetheless pretty cool.  I find Obama frustrating because his cross-over appeal is in part due to his centrist stance at odds with the professed progressiveness of the majority of his supporters, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to be glad that our two party system that offers so little genuine choice and options didn’t appear further destabilized by this latest quest for the critical Independent vote.

I don’t know what to make of the scoldings by these Party loyalists of the Obama (and Clinton) hyper-supporters who claim they will not vote for the other candidate should their choice not get the nomination.  I agree that this position is short-sighted IF one’s primary goal is to put a Democrat in the White House.  But if, as Sara implies above, and my professor believes, Obama is merely a momentary figurehead atop a viable and growing progressive movement, than how can we expect his most ardent supporters to *downgrade* their movement participation into a vote for a Democratic Party – and, by proxy, party system – with which they seem pretty disenchanted?  I don’t have a comparable situation for Clinton, as party line logic appears to match up more fluidly with her supporters.  (However, I think many older Dems who feel Obama stepped in prematurely and arrogantly and at the expense of a more qualified and seasoned candidate could somewhat easily transfer their preferences for experience and wisdom onto McCain.)  Despite all the noise we’re making here in the ‘sphere, we’re really talking past each other.

At this point, it’s not clear to me that the Democratic party (and democratic system) will emerged unscathed from this primary (though I’m not sure exactly what “scathed” looks like).   The fight’s not anywhere near over, but I expect something’s gonna give, whether it’s some decision about MI/FL delegates, superdelegates, the popular vote, the unpopular vote, caucuses versus primaries, small states versus big states, red vs. blue vs. purple vs. all-the-colors-of-the-rainbow states, the white vs. the black vs. the Hispanic vs. the Asian vs. the union vs. the elderly vs. the LGBT vs. the Martian vote, electability, unelectability, respectibility, disability, incontrovertibility, Independents vs. progressives vs. Democrats vs. the GOP (who???), bloggers vs. the MSM vs. right-wing talk radio vs. Metro readers, Iraq vs. Iran vs. Pakistan vs. Afghanistan vs. Newyorkistan, Socks vs. Buddy, Rove vs. Cheney, steroids in baseball vs. spying in football, Jesus vs. G-D vs. Allah vs. the Discoball, or, my perennial favorite, the Red Sox vs. the Yankees.  And the decision-makers about our future nominee are likely going to be the party leaders and the candidates, despite our collective efforts to cast our individual votes.  Furthermore, that decision will be packaged and spun so many which ways we’ll never fully understand exactly what happened.

Until I write my best-selling expose of the ’08 Democratic primary in five years, of course.  Watch for me on The View.

 

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