Senator Obama strikes me as a process-oriented rather than an issues-oriented candidate. The lofty rhetoric about 'changing the politics in this country' which so frustrates his detractors is matched by a consistent set of process-oriented actions as legislator and presidential candidate.
I think that's a fair statement. And a good way of getting at what I think is lacking. Our great era of procedural reform was the Progressive Era, but it came up remarkably short. More good intentions than results. In contrast, our great era of structural reform was the New Deal. But structural reforms also brought procedural reforms with them as well. The New Deal wasn't perfect, either. But it was significantly more effective.
I can see from his career as community activist, Constitutional scholar and legislator that he is qualified to understand this situation and is equipped to discern a solution and act on it, hence his candidacy.
I can see that he could be so equipped. But I think that the historical evidence is plain: procedural reforms, though necessary, are far from sufficient.
He is not an anti-War candidate or an anti-Poverty candidate but a candidate who is proposing to change, in fact reform, the processes by which we elect our politicians and they govern. That seems to be our most pressing problem and one which will facilitate finding solutions to the others. When he says things like we can change the special-interest-driven politics in Washington and transform our country many people apparently hear an empty phrase but I hear a dog-whistle tuned to just the right frequency.
This is, however, remarkably similar to what the Progressives believed. They did some good things--direct election of Senators, passing the Pure Food and Drug Act, etc.--but they generally were mistaken that proceedural change was sufficient in itself.
In fact, overall, their proceedural changes did more to aid the powerful than the powerless. Their civic reforms tended to block socialists from gaining significant governing power in the industrial Northeast. Their initiatives tended to be used most successfully by the same special interests who dominated the legislatures they were trying to circumvent. And their focus on good government was the culmination of an ideological shift against expanded voting rights that was the catalyst of a prolonged decline in voter participation rates that is with us to this day.
I'm not saying that Obama's good intentions are doomed to have equally problematic results. Rather, I think they make a good starting place, if people are willing to take seriously the lessons of history that something more is needed as well.
I do, however, take exception to your characterisation of Obama's supporters as non-analytical though I can understand why you take this view.
So here's what I see as quite typical in these two posts: The Obama supporter is gushing. The Edwards supporter is critically analytical. I'm not saying that all their supporters are like that. But in the blogosphere, the tendency of the most prominent voices certainly tends that way. And I'm not saying that either one is right.
Not only was a careful to qualify my statement. I explicitly disavowed the view that one was right and the other wrong.
Obama's campaign is a legitimate candidacy by an extremely intelligent and qualified politician who has sincere aspirations for the country and the electorate.
With all due respect, however, this qualifies as "gushing" in my book. I don't disagree with it. I just don't find it terribly informative.
Is it perhaps too soon to dismiss it as a 'Children's Crusade?'
And I don't do that. This sort of defensive trope is what we need to get beyond, IMHO.
Boy if this isn't just the frame we need to hang on the GOP from now until 2009:
The party of perjury, pardons and double-standards.
I love it!
What's more, it's now quite clear that Bush intended to pardon Libby all along. He was just hoping he wouldn't have to. So everything he said to the contrary earlier on was just more of the same lies and deceit.
I didn't address Clinton's strengths primarily because her partisans are barely part of the conversation here--certainly not enough for me to readily generalize. But if any Clinton supporter reads this and wants to jump in, then by all means, please do so.
I may not be a big fan of hers, but I certainly don't buy the notion that "Clinton can't win because of her high negatives," for example. And I do think that the need to undestand one another includes Clinton supporters as well.
The comparison numbers cited obviusly reflect a number of different factors. But high among them must certainly be that most folks over 65 grew up with radio as a part of their lives--listening to music, sports, even radio dramas, as well as news. This made the transition to talk radio particularly easy. Put folks into hour-long commutes or longer, and listening to talk radio becomes easier than falling off a log.
Blogs have none of that going for them.
What they do have is that they alone stand outside of the corporate lock-down that conservatives have on the rest of the media. But they cannot possibly be the equivilent of talk radio for the left. They can help us leverage our way back into a more honest representation throughout the media. But it has to be a dynamic process, in which we use the blogs to help synergize with, and expand other venues as well. Which, of course, is precisely what's happening.
The questions come with regard to where and how we should bring pressure to bring about policy change, as opposed to seeping up from content below. Simply because it's been 20 years since Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine, many Democrats and progressives who should know better dismiss it as impractical, old-fashioned, politically unfeasible, or whatever.
But all you have to do is look at how it makes conservatives go apeshit to know that it's a great idea. It generates more lies and more hot air than you can shake a stick at.
Breaking up media conglomerates via revived anti-trust regulation is certainly important as well. But brining real balance to the talk radio universe would bring tremendous direct benefits--ones that can be all the more profound for their capacity to synergize with blogs, YouTube, MySpace, etc.
Our country's economic woes date back to the 1970s and 80s. This predates the massive influx of immigrants from Mexico and Central America.
I'll take you seriously when you begin to talk about industrial policy, and rolling back neo-liberalism--repealing NAFTA, just for starters. Until then, you are simply arguing for one group of victims over another. And that's just fighting over crumbs.
And FYI, not only have I worked with my hands. I spent a whole summer picking fruit, with an almost all-Mexican crew. Tree fruit, of course. There was no way I could have lasted doing stoop labor.