Machine vs. the grassroots - Clinton v. Obama the macrocosm?

This San Francisco Bay Guardian article elaborates on the perception and perhaps reality of the Obama/Clinton endorsement phenomenon.  The article, entitled Who wants change? Local endorsements of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fall along familiar ideological lines chronicles the San Francisco pol endorsements.

The perception of course is that the machines are supporting Clinton while the grassroots movements are supporting Obama.  This is an oversimplification of course, and how you define "machine" and "grassroots" is often more subjective than objective.

More under the flap.

But in San Francisco the lines seem clear.

There were murmurs from Harris's corner and an awkwardness that hung thick in the air. This was because unlike Feinstein, Newsom, and most of the powerful establishment Democrats in San Francisco, who have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, Harris was an early and high-profile supporter of Barack Obama.

That difference seems especially significant to San Francisco progressives and others who are wary of another Clinton returning to the White House and excited about the upstart candidacy of a younger black man who got into politics pounding the streets of Chicago as a community organizer.

Political endorsements are often like ideological tea leaves. Sometimes support stems from a personal relationship with the candidate, but usually it signals more of a philosophical affinity, a desire to either take a chance with something new or stick with a known quantity, which seems to be the case with this presidential primary election.

"It boils down to this: are you part of the Willie Brown, John Burton political machine, in which case you're with Hillary, or are you part of the free-thinking folks who really want to see change?" Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin -- who considers himself part of the latter group and has endorsed Obama -- said to the Guardian.

Peskin noted that all of the elected officials in San Francisco who got their jobs through a Newsom appointment -- Sups. Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier, Assessor Phil Ting, and Treasurer José Cisneros -- have endorsed Clinton, whose campaign has been notorious locally for pressuring top Democrats to get on board.


But Sup. Chris Daly -- who, like Peskin and many others, backed Edwards four years ago and supports Obama this time -- thinks an Obama victory would be hugely important both locally and nationally in terms of opening up the Democratic Party and the country to new ideas.

"Hillary Clinton clearly represents the establishment, closely aligned to the [Democratic Leadership Council], and Obama represents a change from that. If Obama wins, it would send a serious wave of change through the Democratic Party and open up opportunities for progressives," Daly told us.

He also said progressive Democrats are "like the redheaded stepchildren of the party," consistently marginalized by leaders like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Feinstein, and Newsom. Daly said he liked the policies and messages of Edwards and Dennis Kucinich but identifies with Obama's roots as a community organizer and feels he's the best hope for change. Daly said an Obama victory would "mainstream activist politics, which is what I practice."

So is it playing out this way elsewhere?  Examples?

Tags: California, clinton, Endorsements, Machine, obama, party establishment, Primary, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Guardian (all tags)



Re: Machine vs. the grassroots - Clinton v. Obama

False Dichotomy.  I think this article inappropriately frames both candidates: Clinton as entirely machine, Obama as entirely grassroots.  Sorry, it's a little of A and B for both candidates; anything else is a false representation.

by ejintx 2008-02-03 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Machine vs. the grassroots - Clinton v. Obama

I agree.  Certainly Kennedy doesn't qualify as grassroots and anti-machine.

But I suspect that Obama has higher proportion off "movement Democrats" while Clinton has the higher proportion of "mainstream" Democrats.  And the point is that it comes out quite starkly in San Francisco.

I could be wrong.

by Drummond 2008-02-03 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Machine vs. the grassroots - Clinton v. Obama

Yeah, I can agree with that.

by ejintx 2008-02-03 09:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Machine vs. the grassroots - Clinton v. Obama

Dellums has also moderated considerably over the years.

by Drummond 2008-02-03 10:26AM | 0 recs
Oh and...

I am so sick of progressives complaining about how the Democratic Party marginalizes them.  Who doesn't feel marginalized in this election?  I don't really matter in this primary: I'm a white, male Texan.  Nobody wants my vote until Super Tuesday is over.  That's just how it works.

by ejintx 2008-02-03 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh and...

Looks like you may get your chance this time around.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-02-03 11:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh and...

Maybe, but the point is that, by the time the Texas primary comes around, it's usually over.  Sure, my vote's great, but I'm marginalized like the voters of Pennsylvania and Ohio (I have yet to understand why they are so far behind in all of this when the election often hinges on them).  Everybody is.

by ejintx 2008-02-03 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Oh and...

I reckon the first four primaries of the season should be appropriately staggered among the four states most closely lost or won in the previous general election.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-02-03 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh and...

That's not a bad idea, but I think the GOP would latch on to that too.

So, running by this theory, the four states would probably be (?):

- Iowa

  • Wisconsin
  • Florida
  • Ohio

by ejintx 2008-02-03 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh and...

Why not?  It would change with each cycle.  The weakness is that we would always be four years behind any recent shifts in demographics but it would keep us competitive.  Progressives might argue that it would skew us towards the centre but it also could win elections.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-02-03 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh and...

It skews things toward candidates if their home state's were included in the first four.  It worked out in this election cycle, that (in theory) none of the Democratic candidates should have had a home state advantage.  But, I guess, if you can win your home state (particularly if it's a swing state) that's what matters.

by ejintx 2008-02-03 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Oh and...

If it's a swing state, who cares?  It's all part of the candidate's pull at general election time.  I would hate to see a national primary with no retail politics, we would have establishment, name recognition candidates forever more.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-02-03 01:53PM | 0 recs


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