Just for the record, and because some people might remember that a year and a half ago I wrote a Making Light post entitled “Why Barack Obama Can Kiss My Ass”, let me bring you up to date. I support Barack Obama for President. In fact, because I’ll be traveling all day tomorrow, I cast my absentee ballot for him last week.
I’ve come to this conclusion because in the months since mid-2006 I’ve read a great deal about the guy, his life, and his actual legislative record, both in the Illinois Senate and in Washington. And on balance I’m impressed. Not transported. Not uncritical. But impressed.
Two posts from group blog Obsidian Wings make the case on an issue-by-issue basis as well as I could:
Katherine, Maybe We CanI have a couple of caveats to add. I know perfectly well that Obama, for all his idealism, is well inside the “centrist” consensus on how America ought to conduct itself in the world. He was against the Iraq war from the start, and that means a lot to me, but he’s also not someone who’s going to make the kinds of radical changes to American foreign policy that I would make on Day One if I were in charge. He’s not an insurgent; he’s the standardbearer for a faction of the country’s political elite. I believe that, on balance, this particular faction happens to comprise many of the the smartest and most conscientious individuals from within that elite. So I’m supporting Obama and his train, people like Samantha Power and Robert Malley and Lawrence Lessig, just as a peasant might cheer for an aristocratic faction made up of reasonably decent individuals against other factions made up of out-and-out thugs. Not because the peasant doesn’t know the game is rigged, or doesn’t have the wit to imagine a better world. But because incremental change matters, and because the right incremental changes can lead, like water flowing downhill, to bigger and more profound ones.
Hilzoy, Actually, I Think We Can
Also, while I am a radical in analysis, I am an incrementalist in practice, because life is short.
And all that said, I don’t loathe Hillary Clinton. I’ll support her against any of the Republican candidates, certainly against John McCain, a man whose basic foreign policy position is War With Everyone, Forever. And I think if she’s the nominee, she can beat McCain. I have a lot of reservations about some of the people she’s liable to bring in her wake, and the thought of a “Clinton Restoration” makes me tired. But the particular variety of frothing hostility she inspires in a lot of people makes me more inclined to support her, rather than less. And if she should become the nominee, two words will constantly remind me why I should get off my ass and vote for her: “Supreme” and “Court.”
But I think Obama can do more than beat McCain. I think he can beat McCain and sweep more Democrats, and more progressive Democrats, into power with him. I think it’s no accident that he’s been endorsed by so many elected Democrats in red states like Kansas, Arizona, and North Dakota. It’s not because he’s secretly a conservative, it’s because they know they’ll do better with him on top of the ticket.
I’m for Obama knowing perfectly well that, as Bill Clinton suggested, it’s a “roll of the dice”. A roll of the dice for Democrats, for progressives, for those of us who’ve fought so hard against the right-wing frames that Obama sometimes (sometimes craftily, sometimes naively) deploys. Because I think a Hillary Clinton candidacy will be another game of inches, yielding—at best—another four or eight years of knifework in the dark. Because I think an Obama candidacy might actually shake up the whole gameboard, energize good people, create room and space for real change.
Because he seems to know something extraordinarily important, something so frequently missing from progressive politics in this country, in this time: how to hearten people. Because when I watch him speak, I see fearful people becoming brave.