Raise your hand if you’ve ever been picked last in gym

(Or, some primary season pop psychologizing; this post is a work-in-progress)

In the wake of Clinton’s tremendous wins this week, rising up in the blogosphere are a few voices pushing back on the notion that this happened in part because she went “negative.”  (Personally, I find Obama’s subtle, dismissive vocabulary of “I guess” and “apparently” used to qualify her wins just as offensive as some find her 3am phone call ad.)  Most of these contrarian voices say one or two things: a) that’s scarcely negative compared to what the Dem nominee will and has faced in the general election, and b) Toughen up, for Christ’s sakes.  This is politics.

I can’t really understand the broader appeal of Obama’s unity message.  Some guy in the cocktail line at Clinton’s victory party in TX said to me, “I thought everyone your age was supporting Obama.”  I said, “they are!” and furthered that I thought it was their “idealism.”  As he put it, “that isn’t a bad thing.”  Hell, I wish I were not so jaded.  What I’m thinking of in this post is the lefty consensus that Clinton is too competitive and too aggressive and too mean to the *real* candidate.  Layered on to this is how many media/blog personalities apparently hate what is actually a marvelous competition in the Democratic primary.

Both candidates are improving and benefitting from such a close race.  So are their supporters, who are similarly energized by the competition.  I’ve experienced first hand the amazing passion of Clinton supporters, who allegedly pale in comparison to Obama supporters.  The truth is that Clinton and Obama are running similarly strong, record-breaking campaigns.  Contrary to on-line wisdom, most Dems love the both of them, and the popular vote is incredibly close.  This two candidates are pretty evenly matched, and we should have a grudging respect for both of them. This race is a gift, and we should be so happy to have so many choices. 

I hear anecdotally around the web all the time that fellow bloggers and writers share some of my qualities, such as introversion or a preference for the written over the spoken word.  I have always lived on the edge of the crowd: whether it was reading on a couch in the middle of countless relatives as a kid or being the only non-Jew in a tight-knit group of Jewish college roommates.  This doesn’t make me any less a part of either of these groups; what it does indicate is that I require a little distance, whether spatially or culturally, so I can retreat into my head for periods of time.  I don’t consider myself shy, but other bloggers have described themselves as such.

The other thing about blogging for me is that narcissism is involved.  While part of it is certainly a release, a need to write as an emotional and cognitive process, it’s also the case that I think people should be reading what I have to say.  That my opinions matter, and should be instructive for others.  Why else would I make it public?

It seems to me that this whining over negativity and a corresponding fear of competition is coming from a group of people that should be analyzed for their tendencies toward opting out of mainstream social interaction and group experience, because we didn’t fit in for one internal or external reason or another.  If other bloggers possess a similar mix out there of my introversion and narcissism, then it is little wonder we’re all tearing each other to pieces on a regular basis over our preferred candidate.  Add to this that bloggers are not beholden to external codes of impartiality, distance or objectivity; we think we know what we’re talking about, that what that is is valuable (despite only few having been rewarded our rightful financial desserts! heh), and so the rest of y’all might as well F-off.  (Unless you agree with me, of course.) 

“Going negative,” contrary to utopian notions of rising above the fracas, are a reality of winning. (Hell, it’s a little hypocritical on all our parts to castigate Clinton for unseemly behavior when that’s all we can seem to dish out on-line.)  It’s incredibly difficult to opt out of the battle alone; to some, Obama’s attempt to be above it all comes across as arrogant and removed.  (While there is a racial insinuation here of the uppity Negro, there’s also the blatant anti-elitism we have in this nation.  One reason I avoid pro-Clinton sites like the nutty, security-oriented No Quarter blog is because of it’s pro-working-class anti-elitism, which leaves MIT-educated working-class-born me feeling like I should be ashamed of my education.)  So although Sen. Obama trying to run a different campaign is commendable, it’s more likely to succeed if all the Dem candidates had gotten together prior to map out the agreed upon rules of the game.  I know, such a lofty notion!  FWIW, I don’t think either campaign has gotten particularly ghastly, and I also think this tit-for-tat we’re engaging in on-line of which candidate is the bigger a**hole is ridiculous.  For every shot Clinton allegedly fires, there’s a camp who believes Obama also holds a smoking gun.  

Reality tv and welfare retrenchment and free market sloganeering all indicated to me that as a nation we dig competition, particularly unfair fights.  Now, I know that my blogosphere is decidedly to the left on at least social and economic policy (if not tv programming), but I’m surprised that our allegedly communal zeal for regulation, big government and fair trade somehow means that Obama is the clear heir to nomination.  One thing that has Clinton supporters fired up is the not-so-tacit suggestion that we are somehow illegitimate.  Given that generally women, Latinos, the elderly and the lower-middle- and working-class voters favor her, whereas younger people and African-Americans favor Obama, this election bickering is a shallow yet dangerous play on very real divisions across different groups who have been marginalized, oppressed or disenfranchised in one way or another in society.  It’s kinda all fun-and-games on the web, but after being at a conference on equity and justice for the last 2 days, and doing this kind of work for a living, and campaigning for Clinton with a very diverse group earlier this week, I’m both more dismissive and more frustrated by the hating than ever. 

As I’ve made clear here, I’m speaking to a mainly Internet phenomenon among people who may prefer the anonymity and arms-length communication mode available on-line versus in real life.  But, again, if they’re as introspective as I am, and as much of a frustrated, misunderstood genius as Napoleon Dynomite and me, then I fear we’re all carrying an unreasonable degree of resentment and hostility around when we should be working together to win elections and push forward our socio-political agendas.  Or at least respecting one another’s different paths. 

I’ve said it before, in different ways: Quit badgering me and let Sens. Clinton and Obama know how you feel about their political behavior, beliefs and plans.  I happen to like my candidate, as well as yours, and the majority of their different supporters that I know.


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