Monday, February 25, 2008


Barack Obama is Not Jesus

Excuse me, but this sounds more like a cult than a political campaign. The language used here is the language of evangelical Christianity – the Obama volunteers speak of "coming to Obama" in the same way born-again Christians talk about "coming to Jesus."

But he's not Jesus! He's not going to magically enable us to transcend the bitter partisanship that is tearing this country apart. And even if he is elected, in no way will that show that somehow we have "gotten beyond" race.

The Obama campaign's instruction to their volunteers to steer clear of policy questions. How can we truly bring about real political change if the movement the Obama people are building is devoid of ideological content, content merely to mouth gauzy generalities about "coming together" and "yes we can"? Such a movement becomes a cult or personality rather than engine for social justice and political transformation. And personality cults can be a huge turnoff to those who are not already drinking the Kool-Aid.

This is part of an effort on my part to figure out why people are against Obama because he's just too damned charismatic. I think I have a better idea now, though I honestly still find myself agreeing with one of the comments on this entry.

I can appreciate the concerns expressed, but feel that you're making some hasty conclusions based on a very small sample. There will be passionate supporters on both sides. That you have not seen the same kind of reactions from HRC supporters doesn't mean they're not out there (and judging from the more vituperative tone coming out of the blogosphere from HRC supporters, I can see why euphoria over her candidacy is not coming through). Second, consider the age factor. Obama has attracted a veritable army of young supporters whose tendencies to emote or place their support in a messianic context is far more likely than older supporters. But don't discount the existence of a large number of older supporters for Obama as well, who I suspect are a bit more calculated in their support.

With respect to discussing the issues, I think asking young supporters with little life or political experience to represent to the democratic electorate the nuances between Clinton's and Obama's positions is asking for trouble. I have to believe the same is true in Clinton's campaign. Overall votes will win the election, but the candidates' most articulate supporters will be the core of the grass roots information campaign to attract voters.

At an Obama rally in Nevada last month I had to chuckle at the number of teen volunteers on hand who were fairly clueless about the event itself. Billed as a town hall, I wanted to find out the format for submitting questions. None of the teens I spoke with could say. I don't see that as a blot on the Obama campaign, but a function of accepting help whereever on can get it and not asking more of the youngsters than they can take on.

As to whether Obama supporters will rally to the democratic nomineee, I guess that's a genuine concern, but is a bit moot at this stage. If Clinton gets the nomination it will be her job to unify the party and motivate the base. It's not a fair criticism of Obama's campaign to suggest that his supporters won't back HRC down the road.

Thanks for voting today!

Dems in '08!!! -GMan08

So my general opinion is this: There are people in all political parties who'll support a candidate without really knowing what they're doing. However, no Obama supporter I've spoken to (and this means basically all of my classmates) are supporting him just because he's pretty and speaks well. I for one checked out what he's done in his Senate terms and previous employment, etc. before I even watched him speak. I can't even watch television in my house; I had to go out of my way to find youtube videos of him speaking after I'd already decided I preferred him.

So quit painting all Obama supporters as the same kind of plodding lazy sheep every other campaign has within its supporter-base. Check Huckabee's folk, HRC's folk, Ron Paul's folk, Romney's folk, McCain's folk. There are always people who haven't done their homework.

But honest to fuck, people, do you really think that none of us knows any better? Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check eBay for fragments of Obama's clothing to use as medicinal cures.


James F. McGrath said...

I was just about to share this quote of the day when I noticed your latest post...

Cobalt said...

Ha! Thanks for the link.

But yeah, I've spoken to people who're turned off by Obama because he's a charismatic speaker. As a former competitive speaker myself, I find this viewpoint baffling and strange. When did charisma stop being an asset in a political leader and start being something we weed out?