Sunday, November 02, 2008

Political Partying

A blog reader asked me in private correspondence today how I thought the election would go. Here is a revision of my reply to her.

This is indeed a most interesting election. My prediction is that Obama wins both the electoral and popular vote, most likely by as much as an 8 or 9 point margin. My home state still might be a stretch, but my gut tells me that this state flips blue in spite bass ackward folks like the ones you have to deal with. Obama's team has mobilized in this state and I think they are proving to be effective at getting out the vote.

I think we're seeing something akin Reagan in 1980. The country was in a very down state. We felt adrift. Reagan's thesis that paring back the social engineering role of government, reducing tax rates, and boosting national defense would revitalize the country resonated with a lot of people who felt that the excesses of the 60s and 70s had left the country depleted and vulnerable.

At present, the country's economy doesn't look as bad on paper as it did in the late 70s, but those who would take comfort in that are missing the point. Many large corporations, once considered unsinkable, are failing or faltering swiftly, with potentially horrible consequences.

The costs of energy, health coverage, and higher education take much bigger bites out of our paychecks. More people are invested in the stock market now than in the 70s, so the erasure of wealth from plunging stock prices affects a broader cross section of people.

Although there is a growing chance that Iraq may not fall apart, Afghanistan and Pakistan are becoming more volatile. The total cost of pursuing primarily a military strategy has cost much in treasure and blood.

My read on the nation's Zeitgeist is that all these things have left us feeling weary and frayed of nerves. Our pursuit of the material... ever bigger houses, more luxurious kitchens, huge entertainment systems, etc., all built on a mountain of debt, orchestrated and promoted by companies led by people who are seemingly immune from any consequence of a bad decision they make, have left us in a state of duress which may linger for years to come.

Against this backdrop, the GOP mantra that sounded so good back in 1980, seems so irrelevant in 2008. Their narrative is unable to address the questions and perceptions that matter to voters.

The picture taken below is only a few of the many flyers I received in the mail over the past couple of weeks. They were all paid for by the McCain campaign or the state party.

Depleted of ideas, all they have left is labels of varying kinds to tack onto Obama... radical, liberal, fanatical[1], (soft on the) criminal. Supertramp's "Logical Song" some 30 years ago almost sounds prophetic in this respect.

I feel as if these smears, official and unofficially approved, have sown awful seeds.

As I waited in line to vote today, I heard a conversation between two women behind me. One identified herself as having just moved here from the Volunteer state and knew nothing about the local government or those running for office. She was interested in voting only for president.

The woman behind her, dressed in a long denim skirt and a hairstyle that identified her as being among a more fundamentalist Christian tradition, spoke to her in a low voice, "Well, we could talk about which is the more Godly candidate. I don't want no President swearin'in on no Core-un."

If one wants to oppose a political candidate based on their ideas, I can understand that, but to buy into and propagate false witness is anything but a Godly act.

Obama's success is that he has been able to provide a story about how we might recover from this current state of misdirection. He has made no bones about things being bad, but he has delivered a positive message that reaches out to everyone. There is hope.

[1] -- I couldn't find the word "fanatic" in any of my flyers, but I did see see an ad on TV today, put out by the National Republican Trust, which seems to follow that vein.
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