Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Polarizer and The Unifier: A Reasoned Look

March 29, 2008 at 21:56:51

The Polarizer and The Unifier: A Reasoned Look

by Gustav Wynn Page 1 of 2 page(s)

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Hillary's vast experience in politics should inform her that there is a more popular Democratic candidate in this election. To win now, she'd need unprecedented landslides in the remaining primaries exceeding 60% of the vote, while all polls suggest otherwise.

She'd also have to convince brigades of superdelegates to throw in with her, which, while allowed under current rules, would mean many would be burning bridges with the very constituents who elected them. She is reaching out to your "elite" representative as I write, calling down the list to see who she can sway, perhaps wondering out loud to them what they might need to help make the decision making process easier.

This is why Hillary is so polarizing - she would willingly cause a rift between her party's leaders and voters to squeeze out the nomination by hook or by crook. Party/grassroots alienation leads to smaller, less active campaigns, only adding to the ranks of Nader's nihilists and separates the Democratic party from the democratic process.

Hillary's whatever-it-takes desire for the presidency is greater then any philosophy or ideology. Like an upside-down American flag, we have it wrong when our president decides to get elected first and figures out how to do so second. Especially our next president, who will need to "right the ship". He or she should have some semblance of actual public service as a calling, attracting willing support because of common aims instead of wheeling-dealing in favors, influence, appointments, co-sponsorships and endorsements as currency.

Hillary has long felt we need another power-grabber for our president, to swing the pendulum in the other direction. What we really need is a positive, calming influence who will bring the runaway train back into the station. Abraham Lincoln's oft-quoted definition for American democracy was " a government of, by, and for the people". Hillary's career and campaign is at odds with this, while Obama embraces it in much greater degree.

We are very specifically told by Hillary and her supporters that we need her, to combat the tough, entrenched forces in Washington. She tells us Obama's populist agenda is idealistic and naïve, and that he won't be able to fend off the bad guys. But the majority of Democrats disagreed, rallying against Hillary's presumed iron grip on the Democratic nomination, to demonstrate exactly this ability and intention.

Hillary had long held the Democratic political apparatus locked in, from key early endorsements to local and regional committee machinery, she had big money, big support and big name-recognition, using her fame and limitless publicity to cement her status as the front running contender. The fact that Obama has edged her out proves he can overcome business-as-usual politicians and it's because he is an effective, adaptive communicator.

For example, his podcast pages were straining servers months before his exploratory committee was announced. Many who heard these policy intentions committed to Obama early and seeded a well-run volunteer collective which is a testament to Obama's executive skill. To inspire and organize a body of no-pay workers, communicate a political message and achieve wins in early primaries against the DLC/DNC's well-equipped darling - and a power-packed field representing the full breadth of the party - was no small feat.

Obama rose to the task, delivering perhaps his best speech of all in Iowa and followed through with Super Tuesday and "Chesapeake" victories. But Nixonian dirty tricks were already taking their toll - Madrassagate, Rezkogate and Patriotismgate. Perhaps the most damaging was Pastorgate. But Obama has met these lies, smears and distortions head-on, early and often, with purpose and clarity, at times not convincing everyone in the room, but maintaining admirable composure and refraining from any such tactics himself.

Hillary persisted though. Her win in Texas was helped by a dose of the same type of "3 AM" fearmongering Bill Clinton denounced in his 2006 Democratic Convention address, and Hillary's win in Ohio came amidst the fast-moving NAFTAgate yarn, in which Obama was purported to have promised Canadian officials economic favor despite his anti-NAFTA campaign rhetoric. If you were paying close attention, it was a non-starter: the comments were not his, rather taken from a staffer's memo, way out of context and proportion. After primary day, it actually came out that Hillary's camp was guilty of exactly that which she accused Obama of.

She similarly "went there" on the Reverend Wright firestorm, only to have her own dubious religio-political ties exposed in the press.

So Hillary is polarizing, but also bi-polarizing. First she told us she was proud to be sitting next to Obama on national TV and within 24 hours we saw the opposite in front of a Texas crowd - "Shame on you, Barack Obama". Did she change her mind, or did her strategists? This was only one of many varietal tactics and approaches floated throughout the campaign.

If you want "change", just watch Hillary shifting and retooling right in front of our eyes. A backlash against her negative campaigning produced the promise of a truce, but when it didn't propel Hillary, she went even more negative. She tried the confident self-actualizing winner's strut, she tried the sensitive, wounded lamb, she tried sarcasm with "the skies will open...", she tried the staff reshuffle.

We've seen every almost move in the book. But Hillary's best Bernaysian campaigning appealed to the helplessness in people, promising answers to all of our problems but providing less detail then the candidate she complains is "all talk".

In terms of real action, she laid low throughout her time in New York, choosing a few issues designed to be bullet-points on her résumé, while people the world over longed for an anti-NeoCon champion in the Senate to check and balance the "unitary" cowboy's violations of law and cost-plus spending sprees. Hillary's years-long gambit was that staying out of the Bush vs. U.S. Constitution fray was safer for her White House run.

But her most glaring waffle is also her biggest criticism in the end - her support for the Iraq Authorization for Military Force. That gut-check vote, which millions worldwide opposed, showed not only her general attitude about armed conflict, but a lack of preparation and lack of leadership. Without heeding the dissenting viewpoints that were available, she went so far as to craft a speech to read on the Senate floor. Trying out an aggressive image, she was completely hoodwinked like the rest of the herd, just more loudly. Smart people doubted the intel then, and they were right. But America took years to realize this, and Hillary took even longer.

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GW is a proud American from NY State, concerned about ethics issues, media manipulation and overconsumption. He has recently changed careers to become an inner city schoolteacher. A firm proponent of curbing overpopulation and international adoption, he hopes to adopt a third child and enjoys history, outsider art, garage rock music and rare/unusual vinyl records.

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