Infuriating, or maybe just saddening

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/08/perspective-on-mazen-asbahi.html

I’m increasingly disappointed by Obama. It’s not that he’s a bad candidate. I (along with many others) projected unrealistic hopes onto him. As the recent New Yorker profile drove home, he above all is a savvy politician. I think we’re headed for a presidency of idealistic speeches but compromises that, well, compromise those ideals. I’m not against compromises with the right over policy differences (such as the current energy bill be floated around) but I’m incredibly disappointed that the Obama campaign immediately folded on this point (depending on your viewpoint, maybe that should read “had to fold.”) Spare yourself the high risk of bleeding eyeballs that reading the comments about Rany’s letter–I’ll paraphrase:

DEMOCRAT: Obama had two choices: fight the good fight and lose the election or fold the hand and win big. This is the way our elections/campaigns/government/society is: best to deal with it. Obama’s running a smart campaign. Once elected, he’ll do Great Things for the Left. Anyone who thinks Obama can take on the problems with the media/electorate/system AND win in November is a deluded fool.

LIBERAL: Obama’s turned out to be just another pol. He’s selling out his principles (or, at least, the principles we wish/expect him to have.) This is a shameful act on the campaign’s part.

RIGHT WING MOUTH-BREATHER: Obama’s a Muslim. All muslims are terrorists. Thus, Obama’s a terrorist. Or, my favorite: Obama’s a flip-flopper who’ll cave on any issue to get elected. Which would be true, is only you replace the word “Obama” with McCain.

Personally, I fall between the first two positions (and piss all over the third). Actually, it would be more appropriate to say I’m torn between the two: my head’s with the Democrat, my heart’s with the liberal. Part of why I got excited by Obama’s campaign is that I thought he wasn’t a typical politician–and the speech of Race shows that he stands at least a little bit out from the pack–so the continual proof to the contrary is supremely disillusioning. What I want, more so than a progressive politician to win, is for someone to defy the system and win. Is President Bartlet really too much to ask for?

Seriously, I see the realists’ point but I’m not willing to concede that fighting back against these ridiculous smears is a bad move. Didn’t Kerry prove that not pushing back is even worse? I expected Obama to respond strongly to this kind of shit. It has to be at least possible to make a principled stand and have your words and actions rise above the racists’ moronic shouting, especially when you have a gifted orator like Obama in your arsenal. Seize the moral high ground AND FUCKING STAY THERE.

The whole “courting the moderate vote” concept that drives this type of decision is nauseating. I myself am in some ways a centrist, though 8 years of Bush have certainly pushed me farther to the left than ever before. But I want to see an Independent seize that middle ground and break the fucked up partisan politics we currently tolerate, not watch two guys whose recent voting patterns show them to be near the extremes of the spectrum suddenly abandon their ideals and run out the bread and circuses act.

John, Pat, Heather, whoever else actually reads this thing, I’d like to know your opinions on any of this.

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One Comment on “Infuriating, or maybe just saddening”

  1. Pat Says:

    I slid past realism into cynicism some time ago; the silver lining to living in the gray cloud of cynicism being unburdened by any illusions (or delusions) others may have regarding their politicians. Even your post drawing the comparison between the Goring quote and the way America was brought into war induced nothing more than a shrug and a smirk from me.

    That being said, I will admit that my cynicism has more to do with our two-party system than with the people that make it up. The “courting the moderate vote” issue is a direct result of the dichotomy (sp?) we’ve set up between Reps and Dems. In other countries (read England and Germany) a modicum of idealism slips into the process thanks to the multi-party system that rewards seats based on % of votes instead of the all-or-nothing system we have for Congress.

    For example, imagine a Green Party existed in this country that was small yet significant. A vote in Georgia for the 13 House of Representative spots might shake up 50% Rep, 40% Dem and 10% Green, sending 7 Rep, 5 Dem and 1 Green representatives to the House. Extrapolated to the entire country, a multi-party system results in the main parties “courting the extreme vote,” not the moderate vote, and in this way a small party can pass legislation they deem important with the promise of exchanging their tie-breaking swing votes.

    It’s just one idea, but the point remains, with the system we have in place we’re setting ourselves up for an eternal stalemate where the only things gained or lost are the ideals of those forced to butt heads on the issues.


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