Friday, May 02, 2008

Obama

Exoskeleton is endorsing Barack Obama. And his wife seems super.

9 Comments:

Blogger Max said...

Have you seen John McCain's wife? Even if he was the ideal candidate and said all the right things, I would still vote against him if it meant keeping her out of the White House.

Obama is cool, though. I think he and Hillary are extremely similar, which is evidenced by the fact that all they have to talk about are "experience" (on Hillary's side) and "change" (on Obama's side). But Obama is probably better for the country. We need to do away with dynastic politics, and I'm glad Obama is there to make sure that happens.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Jasper Bernes said...

Of what does your support for Obama consist, Johannes?

Mostly, enthusiasm for the sweet nothings of Obama mystifies me--and this is sad, because I think most of his supporters are coming from the right place. That is, their politics are, if sometimes naive and sometimes timid and sometimes despairing like somebody in a longtime abusive relationship they can't quite walk away, mostly good. Or at least better than Obama's or Hillary's.

But what does endorsing Obama mean? It means endorsing continued murder in Iraq and Afghanistan, inaction on climate change and fossil fuel dependence, brutal neoliberalism here and abroad, a health care plan for the middle class (if anything), continued military aid to Israel, continuation of No Child Left Behind, etc., etc., and so on.

I can understand voting for him, reluctantly, as an expedient. I can't personally swallow my nausea, so I won't be voting for the man--unless he all of a sudden puts paid to his vacuous anjavascript:void(0)
Publish Your Commentd orotund centrism and takes a stand somewhere. But endorse him? It's unthinkable.

8:59 PM  
Blogger CLAY BANES said...

Politics is politics is politics is politics.

Much is at stake, I promise.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Yeah, I'm pretty much in the same boat as Jasper here. I am going to vote for the democratic nominee in the election, but I don't think I could possibly make myself endorse him/her. All you hear when people talk about Obama is "Oh, I saw him speak live at such-and-such place and in person he's just such a powerful and inspiring figure!" Whenever I hear people say such things, I usually throw up a little bit in the back of my throat. It's one thing to back a candidate like Obama (or Hillary for that matter) as an expedient and entirely another to accept his (or her) platform as one that would, and should, ideally persist. For me, that's what an open endorsement would be about ... if there were actually a candidate who actively excited me, rather than a bunch of candidates who only deserve passive, de facto support.

One thing that really bothers me about Obama is how he's constantly complaining about Hillary's negative campaigning, but his supporters are doing all his dirty work for him. I've noticed that Obama supporters are far more vehemently anti-Clinton than Hillary supporters are anti-Obama. Yet he's somehow the candidate who will energize and unify the party by the time the general election rolls around? Anyway, there's nothing worse than a hardcore democrat, because these people are extremely naive and whitebread, but unlike hardcore republicans (who are reminded of their squareness day in and day out by the culture, even to the point that they embrace it), the hardcore democrat tends not to realize it. It's my constant cynicism about political parties that prevents me from doing an out-and-out endorsement of anybody, or participating in the fanfare of a particular candidate's campaign. Because on some level, I think you have to buy into that candidate's message wholesale in order to participate without flinching.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

Even though he's long gone, I like John Edwards. Despite the fact that he doesn't LOOK different and LOOKS like he'd maintain the white male status quo, politically he's further left and a better further left than Obama or Hillary. However, with him out, I like Obama too.

Mostly because I can't stand Hillary and I don't want Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton running our country. That would, at minimum, make it 24 years of this country being run by 2 families. Not cool with me.

With Edwards, even though I haven't agreed with him 100% on everything, I respected WHY he felt the way he did on those subjects.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Edwards was the best-spoken candidate in the primaries, and I think he had the best ideas. He reminded me a lot of Bill Clinton actually, except the whole "Good old southern boy, but you know, liberal" thing was replaced with a pretty convincing level of sincerity. His absolute stances on health care and higher education (he wanted to make university free) were incredibly admirable. And while it wasn't widely vocalized, at least not in mainstream political analysis, I feel like Edwards was the victim of his non-other otherness. Because the '08 has been cast as an "election of firsts," a white male like Edwards just doesn't fit in. And it's sad, because we always fear that identity politics will work against a woman or a black man or a greek catholic, but this time around it worked against the status quo, and quite unfairly at that. During debates, he was constantly trapped in situations where it seemed like he had to answer for being a white male because he wasn't set to be a "first" anything if he were elected.

That said, I am excited at the probability that a lot of people in this country, come November, are going to have to reckon with the fact that their country is being led by a black man. It's going to be an interesting turning point for the idea of what it means to be patriotic. Because there are a lot of people who aren't going to like Obama in the White House, and a lot of these people have thrived for the past 8 years on this idea that they are patriotic. It's a superficial consideration, sure, and obviously Obama has more to offer than this kind of symbolism, but the symbolism will still be there, and it's going to be pretty amazing seeing it go down.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Jasper Bernes said...

What you say makes sense, Max. I can understand voting for Obama merely because one wants to piss-off all the racists in our deeply racist country. But Obama's policies won't do a thing to counteract institutional racism. Perhaps his face and his presence will affect individual racism, and certainly it's meaningful that people who are non-white can say to themselves, "well, it's a racist country, but nonetheless I could still become president." But where does one draw the line? Should one vote for Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice or Dinesh D'Souza? In the end, I think that support for Obama among white liberals has less to do with an authentically anti-racist stance than with a desire to self-congratulate and feel open-minded and non-racist. It's pretty much bad faith--getting over individual racism so that one can continue to benefit (and deny) systemic racism.

Amish,

I've never understood the dynasty argument. If you're going to have to live in a society with a state, then it seems like you vote for the person whose policies you agree with (or most agree with). What's the difference between a dynasty and the oligarchy we already have? What's the difference between a dynasty and the ruling class, between the rule of two families and the rule of 500 large corporations?

1:10 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Jasper -

I don't think voting for Obama heals racism. What it does is put a good number of people in a position to contemplate their individual racism. And even though Obama obviously has far more than this to offer as a candidate, it is a nice side-effect if he is victorious in '08. I don't think it would give anybody license to say "finally, racism is at an end." Naturally, some people will think or do this, but these people have been and always will be idiots. Nothing we can really do about that. Moreover, I think it's simplistic to limit fanfare surrounding Obama self-congratulation.

Also, what is one to do if none of the candidates are ideal, if none of their ideas directly correspond in every way to one's own? I think that is pretty much always going to be the case. How do you deal with this dilemma? It's obvious that none of the candidates left in the race have an ideal record or response to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or to future relations with Iran for example. Are you just supposed to wait around for the perfect candidate? I think the only thing you can do is never become naively devoted to one politician. It's the people who get so caught up in the whirlwind of charisma and whatever else, and think that their candidate's words are gold ... those are the people who are doing it wrong. If you remain skeptical and keep a healthy cynicism about politics, I think you save yourself from the stupidity of believing that a vote for somebody = getting everything you want during his/her term.

The problem with dynastic politics is that we're entrenched in a two-party system. If the system was set up such that outsiders weren't so closed off from opportunities to run for office, I wouldn't care if there was a Clinton or a Bush in every race, because at the very least those Clintons and Bushes would face real competition from outside their parties. But when all that really determines the nomination of a candidate is face time on the news and a name that everybody recognizes, that's kind of pitiful. Obviously it isn't impossible that both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton would be the "best of the bunch" in their respective years of nomination, but the odds of that being the case are terribly slim. You're right. We should vote for the person whose ideas we most agree with. But the range of people we have to choose from is very small. Obviously, a larger pool is more desirable in this kind of a system. Ideally, Clinton and Obama (and a lot of other people) would be able to run on separate tickets, and we wouldn't have to narrow them down to one party candidate.

10:06 PM  
Blogger NPI said...

"Also, what is one to do if none of the candidates are ideal, if none of their ideas directly correspond in every way to one's own?"

Since it's clear the only options for participating in the national two-party electoral system (if one's salary isn't in the seven-figure range) are voting, endorsement and putting up Ron Paul signs on the highway, I'm not sure why notions of maintaining one's personal integrity are relevant to the discussion in the first place.

I think Jasper's right about Obama--he's not going to change the system and wouldn't have the power to do it anyway. Not to mention he owes way too many favors: http://counterpunch.org/martens05052008.html

But an endorsement of Obama is not necessarily unmitigated approval of his policies, and it does make sense if one also realizes that the electoral arena isn't the only meaningful political space. (though somewhat moreso than poetry) Democratic reform movements within trade unions, worker's centers, women's centers, prison reform organizations, mass mobilizations against the war, for immigrants rights, against police brutality, against the destruction of public housing are viable ways to build collective power and perhaps even a base for a genuine left party.
Obama will probably deescalate the war and might even remove a substantial number of troops. He certainly isn't as hawkish as Clinton or McCain. He might help make some minor improvements to the health care system and might veto more tax breaks for the super-rich. His message, stripped of all context, is certainly attractive. But if elected, he's going to disappoint a lot of people. And if that happens, I hope large numbers of people will start looking outside the two-party system
but also to other ways of acting politically. Multi-party systems aren't a panacea.
The British, who have a multi-party system just had elections and London now has a Tory mayor and an ultra-right (BNP), openly racist member of parliament. France has Sarkozy, Berlusconi is back in Italy...

8:32 PM  

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