As Buhdy did in his essay a few days ago, I’ve been trying to imagine what our current political situation looks like to those who are not immersed in the blogosphere and the news…in other words, to people who are NOT political junkies.
I combine that with the fact that it looks like the long nightmare of our Democratic primary season might be about to come to an end. It seems obvious that we are going to have a race between McCain and Obama. For most folks here, that is not the choice we would have liked, but its what we have. That is unless we want to sit it out or cast a “conscience” vote for someone else. I will not judge anyone’s decision in these matters. But for me, the choice is easy. And that’s because I think that, with Obama, we’ve gotten about as good as we could get in our current political climate.
We’ve got alot of work to do in helping educate and motivate more people to take a deeper look into where we stand as a country. But I can see some progress in the outcome of our current race for the white house. And for me, Booman summed it up well today in a diary titled What This Means.
It hasn’t been a battle between Barack Obama (centrist black man) and Hillary Clinton (centrist white woman). That was the superficial story line where the only difference between them was their identities. If you thought that was what the choice was, you can be forgiven because that’s what the media and more than half the blogosphere told you it was about.
In reality, this was a generational fight. It was a fight between those that came to power during the post-McGovern era and those that aspire to power in the post-Bush era. It was between a party that relied on the white blue collar ethnic vote and a party that relies on majorities from non-whites, non-Christians, and the generation of whites that grew up well integrated with them. It was between a party that came to rely on corporate money and union muscle just to be competitive with Republicans and a party that has learned the new fundraising and social networking skills of the Information Age.
But, above all, it was a fight about leadership. Barack Obama knew better than to rely on the existing infrastructure, created by the blogosphere, to fight back against the Bush administration and the media. We are too stridently partisan to be messengers of a new kind of politics. He had to step around the gatekeepers of the blogosphere, much to their chagrin. Barack Obama’s greatest accomplishment is the organization that he created. He used our tools and his own message. And he won. He could not have won any other way.
This was a fight for the ideological soul of the party. But the ideology wasn’t so much about health or education policy. It was about how the party is organized, who it really represents, and whether or not it will continue to be beholden to the old lobbyists, interests groups, and consultants, or whether it will become the truly people-powered party that is a necessary predicate for bringing real progressive change.
I have some major policy disagreements with Obama on how he sees the role of the US in the world today and his foreign policy. Those differences concern me greatly. But in some ways I agree with BooMan that there were “meta” issues at play here that go beyond those policies and have been overlooked by many as they judged his candidacy by how the game has been played in the past. He used the tools of this new generation and figured out a way to go around the machine and win the primary.
The reality is that a “people-powered party” is going to have to be a coalition of folks I don’t always agree with, mostly because to be a winning entity, it will have to include alot of people who aren’t political junkies. And it will be my job (working with all of you) to pressure the media and help inform our families, neighbors, friends and coworkers that the stakes are high and we have to get educated and involved.
I do not see a “savior” in Barack Obama. And I continue to prepare myself to be disappointed in the possibility of his administration. But if there is a chance that he might revive a “people-powered party”…I’m ready to take a chance on that possibility and get to work making it the party I want it to be.