Monday, February 11, 2008

For the Most Part, I'm Down With Obama...

...but that doesn't mean Paul doesn't have a point.

I think almost everybody in the progressive blogosphere that isn't directly backing Obama--and some people that are--do want the Obama people to calm down, at least a little bit. I do agree with those who say that he's sort of mischaracterizing the Clintons' tactics, and probably should substantiate his comments a bit more. But this IS Paul Krugman we're talking about- I shudder to think at the volume of invective he's probably received in his mailbox recently.

(I don't know about you folks, but the variation between the inclusionist tone of Obama's campaign and the DISSENT WILL BE CRUSHED UNDER OUR TREADS OF OUR MIGHTY HOBNAILED BOOTS! ALL HAIL OBAMA, KING OF KINGS!! attitude of a lot of the online followers is, well, a little disturbing to me. Even if you DO support the guy.)

Here's the problem: Clinton didn't bring this on herself and doesn't deserve it, but I do think there's something that Krugman's missing: the inevitability factor. A year ago, when Obama was seen as a longshot at best, the party machine was quite busily telling all and sundry that "if you don't support Clinton with all your heart, you will certainly be out in the cold when she gets the presidency". Even though she had surrounded herself with some of the sketchiest elements of the Democratic party, and she was about as progressive as Joe Lieberman, she was GOING to win so you had best support her.

(What were you going to do, become a Republican? Support Nader? Hah!)

What Obama's drawing on is people's disdain--if not disgust--for that whole thing. A vote for him isn't a vote for someone more progressive that Hillary, though it's quite likely that he would govern more progressively than her, even if he's no Edwards. It's a vote against all the forces that propelled Hillary Clinton in the first place: the forces of the machine, of unthinking partisan support, of name recognition, of near-royalist elitism, of meaningless primaries, of voting for your identity, and of everything else that turns people away from Democratic politics and from politics entirely.

(For those who cry "identity? But Obama's black!" Yes, yes he is. And if he's ever really run on that to the extent that Hillary has run on her possession of ovaries, I certainly can't recall it.)

People wanted a change, and Obama really does represent that. Even if the change they want isn't quite him, even if they think that he'll get frustrated by the obstructionism of the Republican party, they want something different. For better or worse, a vote for Clinton is a vote for the same old Democratic party, and I don't think people want that anymore.

And now they appear to be winning. Despite all the odds, despite all the "inevitability", despite the "Clinton News Network" amazingly living up to that ridiculous name, they're winning. It really feels like something different is in the air, and for those that are sick to death of the same-old same-old, nurturing that difference is worth anything. It's more important than health care mandates, more important than identity, more important than electability, and (in their minds) far more important than even the brilliant fight against the Forces of Darkness that Krugman has waged these past 6 years or so.

They're desperately jonesing for that change. And if he gets in their way, well... hobnailed boots.

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