Sunday, February 10, 2008

Post caucus cigarette

I do not participate in Washington's caucus system. For one thing, I was working during the caucus time. For another, I am an independent voter who prefers not to declare a party affiliation (nor am I likely to get involved in grass roots projects that require more than an email...human rights rallies not withstanding). For this same latter reason, I do not participate in the primary. The state parties have thwarted my ability to participate in an open primary and have further alienated me by not fully respecting the outcome of that vote. A district captain explained to me last night that the caucus system was designed to grab the names and addresses of participants in the hopes to get them involved in grassroots organizing. I can appreciate that, but the result is that I feel less associated in the process and, as such, am likely to continue to be as Independent as I want to be in the November election.

Having noted that, here are some thoughts that I shared with a couple of friends this morning about the caucuses held yesterday in Washington:
Obama, as I suspected he would, took the caucus here with overwhelming support. On the Republican side, Huckabee was giving McCain a run for his money (not surprising as the evangelicals are a strong force in our Republican party and they are more motivated than the moderates in this election cycle). There's been some speculation about why Obama does well in caucus states while Clinton does well in primary states (which is often the case for these candidates). Some point out that racism is easier in a secret ballot while in a caucus no one wants to be seen as racist. But that brings up the interesting question: is it more acceptable to be sexist in a caucus than it is to be seen as racist? I rather think that there's little to this speculation and that it is cynical to put forth such. After all, these are party loyalists who, by this point, are not likely to have much problem with either candidate (as a precinct captain told me last night, "There's a sliver of light between their positions, but I like her health care plan better than his").

No, I think that the tide has turned for Obama and the caucus results reflect that. Either candidate will win as president (I don't think that the Republicans have a chance and the fact that so many Republican Congressmen are jumping ship before the election reflects that their polls are telling them the same thing). However, Obama's strategy is the better one in a number of ways. The message he is peddling is one based on hope, opportunity, national pride, and optimism for the future. Despite the fact that he got lambasted for his statements about Reagan, that is exactly the strategy he is employing. Reagan, along with Bill Clinton, JFK, Eisenhower, and Roosevelt used the same message to win over the electorate. It is ironic that Hillary's team chose not to jump onto that same slogan and use it to her advantage - she already had the background, but perhaps they thought she needed a new message and they pushed experience...bad move. We're in three legitimate wars right now - one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan, and one against the Islamic terrorists that is taking place on multiple fronts. Our economy is in recession and it looks like it's going to be a while before it rights itself. People are concerned about global warming, health care, retirement, education, and children (note - not poverty, which was Edward's's an ugly stepchild as far as America is concerned). They are looking for a leader that can inspire and make us feel good about our country as well as project a positive image to the world. Obama is articulating that message well. Hillary would fulfill the roll, but people remember the animosity Republicans have towards the Clintons (as well as the animosity Democrats feel towards Bush) and I think that most of us just don't want to relive that. To that point, it means Obama would pull more Independent voters than Clinton and have a more authoritative majority to work with when lobbying Congress. I think that's why he's doing so well and is likely to win bigger as the primaries and caucuses roll on.

Oh, and one final thing...if I were a Democratic strategist, I'd absolutely LOVE to face McCain. In fact, I'd rather face him than Huckabee. McCain has pandered so hard to the right and has felched Bush so publicly that he's an easy mark for attacks both nasty and warranted. Huckabee, however, is harder to fight on that front. After all, he's criticized Bush on economic and foreign policy and he's a big government Republican. He's got a likable personality and a folksy delivery and he speaks in evangelical code that doesn't turn off secularists. Republican moderates fear and loathe Huckabee, but he's their stronger candidate this year. If we were talking the McCain of 2000, then I'd call it differently, but he's squandered that image over the past 8 years. McCain's straight talk express is bullshit and there are endless flip-flops to point out - far worse than Kerry in 2004. Huckabee is also strong in the south, where McCain is not. If McCain is the nominee watch Obama (if he is indeed nominated) take much of the south except the border states. If Huckabee wins it's going to be a dogfight for that region.

Now playing: Hopeton Lewis - Boom Shacka-Lacka
via FoxyTunes

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