I’ll be the first to admit that I can fall for hype. Not more than most people, I’d say, but I know I can do it.
But when it comes to politics, it’s very hard to believe any hype at all. I’m terribly jaded about it.
I’m voting for Obama in spite of the hype.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that they think he’s just talk. But I’d caution them that talk is never “just talk.” Talk has power. And in a position of leadership like the US Presidency, the way a person communicates can change history. Just that alone.
But that’s not all there is to Obama’s candidacy. I won’t go into all the details, only to say that there is real meat behind his take on the issues. I guess people can’t believe it’s possible for someone to have both a great rhetorical skill and substance behind it, but he does. Whether you agree with every nitpicked point of his plan, well that’s another matter. I have some doubts about some of it. But that’s not the point — the point is that he’s thought things through and has incredibly talented people around him as well. It’s silly to expect anyone’s candidacy platform to come out the other side 100% — it never happens, unless maybe you’re Stalin.
This post does a great job of ticking through some of the issues, and giving helpful links: http://randomfoo.net/vote. It especially highlights how Obama is very very good for the Internet … something that distinguishes him strongly from Clinton. James Fallows gives a decent rundown of some central issues as well, at the Atlantic.
Do I have doe-eyed hero-worship feelings for Obama? Not really. I happen to think he’s just as ambitious, flawed and even arrogant as the next presidential candidate. Why? Because by definition, you have to be in order to survive the election process.
But this guy has what it takes to move the culture. And that’s what I believe we need. Not only to heal the wounds that the last few presidencies have left (and yes, I said the last few … though admittedly, the latest one takes the cake), but to move beyond the toxic conversation that got us there, to re-framing how we see ourselves in the US … the character of our country.
I’m not saying Clinton would be a bad president. She’d probably be quite excellent. But I don’t believe she can move the culture … just extend the same story into a new era. I’m tired of that story. I think if most people really consider it, they’ll feel the same way. Do we really want the country to be run by just two families for, possibly, 28 years? Almost an entire generation?
Luckily, fate has given us an option.
Like I said, I’m cynical. And in politics, I distrust hype of any sort. But at the same time, something deep in my personal history tells me not to have a ‘hardened heart’ — to be ready to see and hear things anew, or risk missing something great.