Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Voting today

I voted in the democratic primary today, and I thought I'd share my decision-making process. In terms of issues the two are almost indistinguishable, so I spent a lot of time looking at other factors. I was originally supporting Hillary; democrats have spent years showing worse than they should, because they just aren't as good as politics as the republicans. Republicans are better at creating memorable sound bites, herding single-issue voters, and swaying public opinion. And I think Hillary can play that game, the game of getting oneself into office at any cost, better than Obama. Her attack machine is Rove-worthy, and she's not afraid of getting messy.

Then it occurred to me: am I actually supporting a candidate because they're the best politician? The important functions of a president -- appointing judges, staffing leadership positions at federal agencies, diplomacy -- will be done equally well by any democrat. The last six years have cost America dearly, in a moral sense. We're no longer the good guys, we're the 800-pound gorilla. And I think Obama will be easier for Americans to unite behind. He's inspirational, where Hillary's polarizing. He seems like a statesman, where Hillary is a politician. And his campaign is addressing making changes in the system, rather than making the system work for you. He's not the candidate Hillary is, but I think he'll be the president America needs.

Oddness: ever notice that Hillary is the only candidate who's almost always referenced by first name, rather than surname? The original serious contenders were McCain, Romney, Huckabee, Edwards, Obama, and Hillary. I heard this mentioned as a sign of sexism, that the use of a first name is less formal and a sign that you're not taking someone seriously. I think there's a simpler explanation: we've already got a Clinton who's still casting a looming shadow over American politics. The first name is the easy way to denote which Clinton you're talking about. The husband isn't "Clinton" either at this point; he's "Bill".

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