Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Evolution of the Obama Campaign

During the summer of 2007, I, like most of us, was completely convinced Barack Obama was going to run a distant second place to Hillary Clinton. My admittedly minor role as a volunteer for his campaign did little to assuage my feelings. He seemed doomed to run a respectable, but nonetheless inevitable second place. I was again more than willing to serve my time-honored role as the supporter of the Patron Saint of Lost Causes.

The means by which he won the nomination will be a benchmark in political science and history for years to come; I'll let hindsight speak for itself when the right time comes and I'll not dwell too heavily upon the against-all-odds nature of Obama's run for the White House.

Having plowed through both of Obama's books and two biographies written about him, many of my questions have been answered. What makes this campaign fun is that it is not heavily scripted as it would have been if Hillary had won the nomination fight hands down--- as we all expected a year ago (or less).

The media has been thrown into an often-amusing kind of disequilibrium with Obama's rise to power. Had Hillary Clinton won the nomination, the media and the blogs would have run off a heavily choreographed script. Having known what eight years of Clinton looked like, this election cycle would have been very routine, hum-drum, and perfunctory.

I, in my usual role, would have waddled down to the polls and cast my vote for the latest dull as dishwater Democrat, not feeling particularly good or inspired by it, but desirous of a Democratic president no matter in what package in which it arrived.

I have to say that I enjoy the kind of flying-by-the-seat-of-the-pants ethos of this campaign. It's exciting, but the word I keep coming back to is new. In my humble opinion, Obama is the first candidate of the Twenty-First Century. This is why he is not easily understood by the politicos, the media pundits, and the op-ed columnists.

How odd it is that we must have a Presidential election to be able to correctly gauge the progress we have made as a country or a society. In an instant, we see a snapshot of how we have been slowly, slowly moving forwards or backwards, evolving or de-evolving. It seems overwhelming until one recognizes that every day we are changing--but only in election years are we bombarded with realizations we are either too obtuse or too busy with our own lives to want to come to terms with.

The ironies and counter-ironies are compelling.


Men of good fortune,
often cause empires to fall

While men of
poor beginnings,

often can't do anything at all

The rich son waits for
his father to die

The poor just drink and cry

And me
I just don't care at all

Men of good fortune,
very often can't do a thing

While men of poor beginnings,
often can do anything

At heart they try to
act like a man

Handle things the
best way they can

They have no rich daddy
to fall back on

Men of good fortune,
often cause empires to fall

While men of
poor beginnings,

often can't do
anything at all

It takes money to make
money they say

Look at the Fords,
but didn't they start
that way?

Anyway, it makes no
difference to me

Men of good fortune,
often wish that
they could die

While men of poor beginnings
want what they have

And to get it they'll die

All those great things
that live has to give

They wanna have money
and live

But me, I just don't care at all

Men of good fortune
Men of poor beginnings

Lou Reed, 1973

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