Rhetoric and Reality

Jeralyn links to this Las Vegas Sun analysis of the Nevada Caucuses. According to the Sun, it all boiled down to this:

And though it’s easy to slice and dice and analyze strategy, there’s this: Nevadan Democrats put their faith in Clinton and her experience.

At dozens of precinct locations voters interviewed by the Sun cited Clinton’s experience as the overriding factor in their decision.

Clinton’s “experience” over Obama’s call for “change.”

Jeralyn says this:

I continue to believe that when it comes time to vote, those adversely affected by our tumbling economy are going to be less concerned with aspirational change and more apt to ask which candidate has both a concrete economic program and a track record showing the ability to push it through.

I hope that’s true, but on an even broader scale. Because I don’t hear much about anyone’s economic programs. Even in the endlessly blithering blogosphere, the campaign themes are repetitively dumbed down to “experience” vs. “change.” And Jeralyn is spot on that people actually want to know about concrete policies. It would be nice if the campaigns and their supporters realized that.

If people really want real experience, they’d have supported Bill Richardson. If people really want real change, they’d be supporting Dennis Kucinich. The people who continually hype the illusion of Clinton’s “experience” or Obama’s “change” need to be a bit more honest with themselves, and figure out what it really is that makes them so adore their favorites. Maybe, then, they will do a better job of selling their candidates to we skeptics. Or maybe they won’t.  


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  1. Neither Richardson nor Kucinich is pulling in the money that Clinton and Obama is pulling in.  My guess is that the mere possession of money is what makes Clinton and Obama “electable,” thus invitable to debates etc.

    I dunno.  I’m voting for Kucinich on a “strength of resume” basis.  We want someone like him in the White House more than we want a neoliberal.  But I tend to agree with Sup Marcos’ approach to electoral politics:

    Are we saying that politics has no purpose?  No, what we mean is that THAT politics serves no purpose… It is useless because it does not take the people into account.  It does not listen to them, it does not pay any attention to them, it just approaches them when there are elections… And then just promises of what this one (politician) is going to do and what the other one is going to do, then it’s bye, I’ll see you, but you don’t see them again, except when they appear in the news when they’ve just stolen a lot of money and nothing is going to be done to them because the law – which those same politicians made – protects them. (357)

    Looking for salvation from the political class is not a sure bet regardless of whom one supports.

  2. I am half fascinated, half revolted at the “candidate diaries” I’m reading on the blogs.

    It makes me wonder what is motivating those folks who have gotten so sucked in to the Presidential campaigns that they would behave in such an irrational fashion.  Don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out or if I even want to, heh.

    I’m still more interested in the issues and not so interested in the primaries.  The traditional media is doing its usual bad job but this time even the blogs have gone batty.

  3. Here’s what today’s NY Times said:

    Mrs. Clinton, whose campaign initiated the interview, can speak in both fine detail and sweeping historical terms about the economy – almost as would a policy adviser, which she essentially was for a long time.


    Mrs. Clinton’s approach to the economy would have three main components. She would roll back the Bush tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000 while creating more tax breaks below that threshold; impose closer scrutiny on financial markets, including the investments being made by foreign governments in the United States; and raise spending on job-creating projects like the development of alternative energy.

    “We’ve done it in previous generations,” she said, alluding to large-scale public projects like the interstate highway system and the space program. “But we’ve got to have a plan.”


    Okay, so I almost always think voting for the policy wonk is the better choice: the only policy wonk president we’ve seen since Nixon was Bill Clinton, and not-so-coincidentally his policies were fairly decent, if too conservative for my taste.

    Hillary is starting to look like the policy wonk in this race.  Me?  I’m still undecided.  But as much as I love Edwards, it’ll be a miracle if he gets the nomination.  And among the rest of the field in both parties, to me anyway, Hillary is the only policy wonk.

  4. for a policy wonk as president. I would like to see a president who knows how to gather and listen to good policy wonks. I’m looking for someone who overall shares my values about what’s important and how we measure solutions to problems.

    One of the most important things to me in looking at candidates is who they will be beholden to once in office. As OPOL mentioned in his essay, that means I have problems with all the top candidates.

    I also think there has been a movement in “the village” that is extremely dangerous to democracy. Its the movement that says “we know better” and we’ll just play with the people. I’m looking for a candidate that is ready to turn that tide around. That’s why I was such a strong supporter of Dean, even though I didn’t agree with him on all his policies.

    There’s also the intangible that is about developing vision and providing leadership that gets people engaged. And then there’s good management of people and resources (obviously something the current administration completely failed at doing).  

  5. …those who still speak to me, that is, the electoral process requires a certain mindset. Electability does matter. Now I’d love to get someone with Dennis Kucinich’s views into the White House, but it was obvious from Day One that the closest person to that who actually had a ghost of a chance of winning was John Edwards. When it became clear several weeks ago that Edwards was not going to succeed, it became a question of which one of two people, who in many ways, are very much alike – and who in many ways I agree with and disagree with – will be most electable in November.

    I know the “electability” theme pisses people off, conjures up the lesser-of-two-evils argument and immediately raises accusations of selling out and operating on a lack of principles. But it’s the real world, the world in which the Dennis Kuninich’s won’t be elected to the highest office in the land, the world in which the best we can do electorally is keep the George Bushes from being elected. And, despite what many claim, keeping the George Bushes from being elected is not a loser’s game, it’s crucial to those whose daily lives are affected, say, by who sits on the Supreme Court.

    Popular Front Democrats, radical democrats, like me, always remember every minute of the day that the party with which we ally ourselves is flawed, cautious, and sprinkled with corporate suck-ups who could give two figs about how their behavior in office will affect the average American. We don’t count on the party to do everything that needs to be done in America. For that we count on movements, pressure from below, long-term efforts that face frequent setbacks, but, if history is a guide, eventually succeed in  pressing the politicians to take progressive action. Sometimes, that takes years, sometimes it takes decades. From the moment Abigail Adams first pushed for women’s suffrage until it was a nationwide reality was 133 years.  

    • Bikemom on January 22, 2008 at 4:17 am

    At the risk of being sound-bite-ish – we’re the cult of personality….


    (sorry still can’t figure out how to embed utube here)

  6. is mind boggling at this point. I try and I try to remain rational(with little success), realizing that the expediency of my own fate or those of my tribe? be it female, American Democrat, middle class?, brown, black, white or all shades and denominations are not important in the overview of history and progress. What is important is the laws of humanity and nature that are greater then our divides.

    This is what happens when the thin veneer of our carefully constructed balance of self governance is tossed aside for the politics of fear. Fear of the right fear of others fear of what? Meanwhile back at reality without these fears we have the power, barring a lock down, of our vote we the people.

    Yet we are pissing away this power our only one, by buying into empty rhetoric. Words that appeal not to our real struggle but to our desire to make it alright for us. It’s not alright, it’s fucked beyond my comprehension and yet we pursue politics as usual. Hey it’s just ‘vetting’. As one who has been shunned as an enemy of the possible I say vibrate higher:


    • documel on January 22, 2008 at 4:50 am

    It took 2 hours before any candidate mentioned NOLA during the MLK debate–and that by Edwards.  If the primary was in LA, NO would have been mentioned in every answer.  Politics as usual–pandering and neglect.  Disgusting.

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