Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Real Call for Change

Hillary Clinton cannot win this election. No matter how capable and intelligent she is, and I believe her to be well qualified in both those areas, Clinton is far too polarizing a figure. She attracts as much negative reaction as positive. A recent CNN and Time poll demonstrates not only this fact, but that Obama stands a much better chance of defeating McCain.

Although hardly a scientific survey, my mother, my study of one, sees a much deeper shade of scarlet than Republican Red. You can't get much lower than Hillary for her: untrustworthy, deceitful, con-artist, huckster, and rapid destoryer of health plans are terms that merely begin to scratch the surface of how she feels. This is what approximately half of this country thinks about the senator. She raises hackles beyond reason; she polarizes simply by existing. There's nothing that she can do to change this.

My mother's reaction to Obama? "I don't know if he has the military experience." Hardly the visceral reaction she has for Clinton.

One factor that's gotten some but still surprisingly press is the Bill factor. His presence alone is a huge handicap and not just because he shot his mouth off recently. Not only will the possibility of him returning to the White House, even as first husband, galvanize Republicans to rally around McCain, but it will also lead indepedent moderates and undecided voters to vote Republican simply because they don't like him or because they don't think a former president should return to the White House in any capacity.

Although the delegate counts are roughly equal, I'd say the choice here is instinctual. The mere reason that Obama and even McCain has faired so well is that they are seen as change. If the American public wanted politics as usual, Clinton or Romney would have easily won. Obama is also winning in a lot of different states; his appeal is clearly far broader than Clinton's, winning more states and the important bellweather state of Missouri, which could have easily gone to, and probably should have gone, to Clinton. Ohio is the next bellweather test for Obama. If he can pull off a victory there, it will position him well for the nomination.

The biggest mistake that can be made is a fractuous display in caucus over the nomination. If the nomination ends up looking anything like Florida in 2000, it won't matter who gets the nomination; the party will be too divided to sweep anyone to victory.

I am somewhat heartened by the impending nomination of McCain, mostly for what that represents than for the man himself. I see McCain's wins as a refutation of the extreme socially conservative sector that the Republican Party has so closely courted the past eight plus years. I also see this as hope that our country is tired of divisive politics and policies. Huckabee's success in the South, unfortunately, does demonstrate the reality that the claws of religious fundamentalism are still attempting to retain their chokehold on the Republican party. But, I think most people are tired of that. I think that most Americans, like myself, see James Dobson's rant against John McCain as a ringing endorsement.

So, if I'm right, and I hope I am, then this is especially why Clinton is the wrong choice. Whether she is or not, she appears divisive; she doesn't have the voice of reconciliation (although she is often lauded for her cross-partisan work). People want change; they want a new voice; they want reasoned and considered leadership that works for the citizens of this country and not the corporations. People want our country restored to its former greatness; they want us to be participants in the world, to see our global citizenship restored. People want hope. And I do believe in the audacity of hope.

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