Monday, October 27, 2008

If Obama Wins, Then What?

Unlike many lefty bloggers, I jumped on board the Obama train almost from the beginning. I was swayed by his intellect, his ability to give a spine-tingling speech, and furthermore I thought him to be the only candidate strong enough to defeat Hillary Clinton. I knew most of the candidates were too weak to win across-the-board support and Obama's moderate stances would appeal more to the voting public than the unabashedly left-leaning candidates. For the first time in my voting career, I was proven right.

Today, I feel like reflecting back upon this exhaustive campaign cycle in an effort to note where we've been.

Obama securing the Democratic nomination for President didn't seem likely for a while, I must admit. I volunteered for his campaign in the summer of last year, back when the Junior Senator from Illinois was still relatively unknown and thought by most to be an afterthought to the Clinton Restoration. I was assigned to be crowd control, instructing people to line up properly and then escort them into the Atlanta Convention Center, where they would stand to observe a procession of speakers and celebrities, eventually culminating with the main attraction. Though Barack Obama had recently received the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey, from the Senator's body language, it was evident that he wasn't particularly encouraged by showing as a distant, but respectable second place.

After the singer Usher, an Atlanta native, was finished talking and the smitten screams of women had subsided, Obama stood up to speak. The backdrop was a series of large American flags, hanging vertically towards the stage. Obama came on to a round of thunderous applause and gave an excellent speech. After it had subsided and the crowds had headed out, he shook hands with all of us volunteers. Handlers pushed him quickly from person to person and he only lingered a few seconds with each of us. In trying to leave the building, Obama found himself corned in a dead end at the back of the room, a room without an exit, and he made a few caustic, sarcastic comments towards his staff in response. Perhaps he was just tired. Perhaps he doubted that this, his first run for the Highest Office in the Land, would accomplish much of anything besides padding his nest for subsequent runs.

In those days, much of the liberal blogosphere was united behind Dennis Kucinich. I agreed with most of Kucinich's After the first few caucuses and primaries, some peoples' allegiance shifted to John Edwards. Many feared that if nominated, and then elected, Obama would govern from the center-right, neglecting the base in the process. These fears came to the forefront again a few months later when it was widely perceived that Obama was drifting to the right in an effort to combat his characterization as a far-left liberal. But, as a fellow blogger has pointed out, the contrast with the largely dysfunctional McCain campaign has allowed Obama to spread his wings and espouse a more liberal philosophy. Whether this stance will be adopted by Obama if he wins the right to take the Oath of Office remains to be seen.


Utah Savage said...

I was right there with you all the way. My support for Obama began the night of the North Carolina Primary. I wrote a letter to my new paper and they published it. I volunteered to make calls. I donated pitifully small sums of money when I had a little left at the end of the month, and have done so all along the way. I'm 64 and this is the most important election in my lifetime. I've always been involved in the political process, but this is the first time I really, really think we fail terribly with one candidate and that we just might have the chance to unite and work together for a better future. We will have tough times for awhile even if Obama wins--Bush ruined our economy and the lives of so many of the soldiers how fought in his phony war. Keep your fingers crossed. I've voted, but in Utah in a presidential election my vote is just an exercise of spitting in the wind. Salt lake could go solidly for Obama, but the rest of the state will make it a landslide for Mccain here. We are a very backwards state--full of the usual culprits--rednecks, crackers and hillbillies, plus we have polygamists and weird religious fundamentalists of the backwards persuasion. Still, I'm always excited and hopeful every time I vote.

Hope you're doing well Comrade.

Mauigirl said...

Yes, I was pro-Obama pretty much from the beginning. Even before I had "officially" made up my mind I sent him a donation - sometime in 2007. I knew it would be him or Hillary and I just never warmed to Hillary. When Obama won the Iowa caucuses that's when I knew he was the one I wanted - I think what had held me back was fear that he wouldn't be able to win.

I agree with Utah, this election is totally the most important election I've seen as well. I felt really bad when Nixon beat Humphrey in '68 but this one is right up there, and probably more important than that one, given the state of the world economy, to say nothing of all the harm done by Bush in the past 8 years. It is so crucial that Obama win this.