Tuesday, March 04, 2008
What I Did
Today I was up by six thirty, dressed by six forty, and out the door to vote in the Ohio Democratic Primaries. The sidewalks were so slick from the freezing rain, that I walked in the street. Our polling place was only one block from where we live, but despite that, I almost busted my ass twice.
I vote every time there is one. I vote in little known, off-year, mid-season primaries where the only thing up is a renewal of the firefighters' operational levy. I wish I could say that every candidate is researched as much as the top of the ticket, but we all know that that is rarely done.
At any rate, so today I went and cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton, the first truly viable female candidate for President. I did it for a number of reasons which I thought I'd enumerate here since there's no current book or film review in the hopper.
Besides, the title of the blog is Late Reviews and Latest Obsessions, so let me start off by saying, I am fairly obsessed with politics. Every day, there is a list of political blogs which I read throughout the day, sixteen regular reads (with about five of those getting multiple visits) and roughly the same additional reads for a slow news day. There are probably slightly fewer non-solely political blogs I read on a daily basis as well (note to my blogroll, some of ya'll need to be updating a bit more often. You know who you are).
So that really funny political email you were thinking of sending out or the latest Bush Administration outrage? I heard about it already. A couple days ago. Within my circle of acquaintances, there are probably single digit instances where someone has broken a story to me that escaped my notice already. My family has yet to hear about the election, I think.
Again, today I voted for Hillary Clinton. Honestly, I'm good with either of our two candidates and I'd have been more than satisfied with a John Edwards presidency as well. Because let's face it, whoever wins the Dem Primary will be the next POTUS. There just isn't any enthusiasm on the other side. For example, in the recent Wisconsin primary, with three candidates appealing to three different niche of Republican voters, total GOP turnout was 409,078. With two candidates running whose vote and views are very, very, very, very similar, Dem turnout? 1,110,702.
That enthusiasm is being replicated across the country in primary after primary. For the month of February, Hillary Clinton rasied $35 million. Barack Obama is estimated to have hauled in about $50 million. John McCain? Around $12 million.
So, when I voted today, I voted for who I wanted to see become the next President of the United States. My sister poo-poohed me when I suggested it would be historic for either one of them to be elected, denigrating the fact that of the last 43 officeholders have all been white dudes and that someone different would be occupying that seat.
To tackle that notion first, much has been made, for instance in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that an Obama presidency would be, in their words: "more likely to change the world of a child born in 2008," going on to note that Obama "has challenged America to move beyond rigid racial, religious or partisan divides to focus instead on shared, national goals."
Notice anything missing in that construction? Obama can change the world by moving beyond racial and religious divides, but left out is an important discussion of gender issues. By far the single most neglected area of dialogue in America (and in the world) is the area of women's rights. Racial and religious conflicts may be inherently more dramatic, more headline-grabbing, more "newsworthy," but they are hardly as prevalent or as unconsciously inherent in our behavior and our society.
A perfect example of just this kind of thinking can be lifted from the same endorsement where the editorial voice asks, oh so haughtily: "Who wants to relive the soap operas of the 1990s?" as if the Plain Dealer had had no hand in disseminating all the right-wing trash spewed up during those years. As they weren't part of baseless allegations, hand-wringing calls for the Clintons to "come clean" about – well, about whatever current bit of highly dramatic, highly newsworthy mudslinging was on order that day. As if they had no choice but to go after Hillary again, repeating the same stale, tired, didn't-hold-up-in-court crap as last time should she win the race to the Oval Office.
But to the point, note the word choice. "Soap operas." Yes, the failed attempt by some decidedly serious fucks like Tom DeLay and Lindsey Graham to bring down a successful Democratic President was all just a highly diverting woman's program that we'd get more of under a second Clinton Administration. Heavens to Betsy, clutch the pearls.
I voted for Hillary Clinton because I think she'd be the bigger door opener of the two Democratic candidates. With 51% of the population of the country being women and 18.3% being non-white, I think of the two minority statuses, Hillary has the largest constituency of those who could wake up one day and think, "I could be President." My daughter, smart enough at age four to not want to ever be President, could live in a world where such a thing could be viewed as within reach of any woman. A Hillary presidency would open up the field of other female politicians or political types who would wish to pursue higher office.
But door-opening skills is not the end-all, be-all of my reasons. On a variety of domestic issues, I simply agree more with Hillary Clinton or her approach than I do with Barack Obama. Her first attempt at healthcare reform taught her valuable lessons in strategy and on the ins and outs of effective bargaining with the parties concerned. Clinton's plan co-opts insurance companies, folds them into the system, where they can eventually be smothered. It has enforcement mechanisms to ensure universality which is key to its success. Barack Obama's dealing with healthcare in Chicago politics demonstrated a willingness to craft bills much more to the liking of insurance companies and despite his repeated statements to the contrary, his plan simply does not ensure universality. It aims for it, but it falls short.
Simply put, healthcare reform is the single biggest domestic priority for the incoming President and I believe Hillary Clinton far more likely to achieve that goal. To the degree that a single issue can make or break a candidate for me, this is the biggie. The weaknesses of Obama's plan aren't as huge as McCain's (essentially do nothing), but I think their chance of successful passage is more limited. And successful passage does more than make healthcare a right of Americans; it signals a Democratic ascendancy.
Spelled out in a memo back in the 90's, the big reason for Republican intransigence on healthcare reform isn't some high-minded opposition to government intervention, no matter what the pundits and spinmesiters say. William Kristol advocated that Republicans block the passage of healthcare reform because it would revive Bill Clinton's presidency and ensure future Democratic majorities. The GOP doesn't want you to have access to healthcare because you might thank a Democrat for it. Then later vote for her.
On education, again, I find Hillary Clinton's positions better than Barack Obama's. He advocates merit pay without much follow up as to why, suggesting political posturing for the pundit crowd who can never resist a good round of teacher bashing. Clinton opposes such a plan unless it were tied to overall school achievement, rewarding successful educators as a whole, and not something that would divide teachers inside the school (the clear rightwing desired outcome, the better to continue their path of union busting).
Hillary would like to scrap No Child Left Behind, while Barack would like to tinker around the edges. For obvious reasons (impossible mandates with decreased funding and the disastrous effect the law has had on advanced programs), I think such a law should be scrapped on practical grounds alone. But as a symbolic measure, I think the incoming President should adopt a scorched earth policy in regards to the Bush legacy. Every signature feature of his term in office should be undone, rolled back, overturned, undone. The harm George W. Bush has done to our country will live on long after even his lifetime; history should remark no significant remnants of this unimaginably huge American disaster.
Which brings me to another reason for Hillary. As someone who is clearly and totally a devoted policy wonk, she will have a salutatory effect on every nook and cranny of the government. Competency, not slavish devotion to ideology, would be a necessary requirement again for appointments. The entire machinery of the federal government is termited through and through with Bush apparatchiks whose sole function is to demonstrate governmental inefficiencies, whose sole job qualification consists either of sizable campaign contributions or groveling adherence to evidence-less systems of belief such as global warming denial. I frankly don't think Obama has the stones to kick over every rock, ferret out these douchebags, and toss them back to the wingnut thinktanks where they belong. Hillary does.
I could go on with the positive, but this is too long a post already and no one is going to comment on it probably save my wife and "brown in oberlin," so a few caveats before I'm done.
Worries that I have about Barack are as follows: the cult of personality surrounding him will eventually tune out of politics when they discover that Obama can't simply wave a magic wand in Washington and introduce bipartisan comity. Many of these people, the ones I've read and heard interviews with, haven't much of a clue about his stances on issues; they respond to his uplifting rhetoric (which does kick serious ass). Once he arrives at the Oval Office and begins the battle of ideas which inevitably results in compromise, disappointment will set in when people realize that he is, in fact, a politician, just like that other one they didn't vote for. Thus, I worry his feel-good supporters will get him to the door, then get a major let down. Should Hillary Clinton compromise toward a solution, who will be all that surprised?
Likewise, I worry that Obama fans, should Hillary secure the nomination, won't back her as readily as I believe Hillary supporters will back him. Hillary supporters seem to be practical people, ready to get in there to kick Republican ass as the final goal. Barack supporters seem to generally like their candidate for himself and once he's gone, what will they do?
On the Hillary side, my fear is that the generalized, psychotic revulsion GOPers have toward her will be sufficient to overcome their lack of enthusiasm for John McCain and will help unify that fractured party and put up a strong defense. I'm not looking for a 50% + 1 victory here, I'm looking for a crushing, tail between the legs kind of smackdown. That I'm not fully certain Clinton can deliver.
My other fear about Hillary is that I have tricked myself into believing that she has staked out a more conservative position in public because she has to as a woman but that this is all optical illusion. What if I'm wrong and she really is as conservative as she presents herself? What if she does prove to be as hawkish as others suggest she is? My hope here is, of course, that militarily we just won't be available for unnecessary wars of choice and she'll have no choice but to fall back on diplomacy.
Anyway, like I said, I like both candidates, but I'm not unaware of drawbacks. Politics isn't about finding the perfect (take heed, Obamaniacs) but about finding the best matchup to your beliefs. I believe I have found that candidate.
Posted by The Critic at 3/04/2008 11:32:00 AM