Barack Obama and Bringing America Together

Andrew Sullivan writes on the distinctions between Clinton and Obama at The Times of London, concluding:

Whoever won a Democratic primary by insisting on being open to Republicans? That is the risk Obama is taking. But when you observe and listen closely, you see this is what he actually means.

He detects an enormous weariness among Americans about their internal divisions in a time of war, overlaid by the anger and divisions that have deepened and widened under the Bush presidency. He suspects that if he can get past Clinton’s aura of inevitability, Democrats will realise he has a much better chance of winning a real national majority in the general election than Clinton does. Clinton polarises the way Bush polarises. She can hope for a Karl Rove-style 51% majority in a deeply divided country. He’s aiming for 55%.

Clinton, in other words, represents payback for the Democrats and liberals after the Bush era, just as Giuliani is emerging as the inheritor of the Bush legacy of divide and rule. Right now, Obama remains to the side, offering Americans something else: not payback, but a new page.

Neither black nor white, neither atheist nor born-again, a candidate who favours withdrawal from Iraq but an offensive against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, a progressive offering the working poor a tax cut, his bet is that, in the end, America wants to come together again. The unanswerable question is whether America really does.

There are actually two questions. It isn’t a question whether “America” wants to come together but whether those who vote in the primaries do. Secondly, I believe a majority of America does want to see an end to the hyper-partisanship we have been experiencing but the real question isn’t what we want but whether it can be done.

Polling shows that Obama does much better among voters who identify themselves as independents but plan to vote in Democratic caucuses and primaries where this is allowed while Clinton does better among party regulars. Obama might be able to pull out a victory if he gets enough independent votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, along with Democratic votes, to get the victory.

The country may have difficulty coming together due to the nature of the divisions we face. We not only have divisions over beliefs but over facts. The right wing has been spending fortunes for a couple of decades to indoctrinate their followers in an alternate reality which makes agreement very difficult. The right wing ignores science on matters ranging from evolution to climate change, convincing their followers that matters of established science are simply matters of opinion. They promote an alternative history in which they ignore basic principles upon which this nation was founded including the rights of the individual during times of crisis and separation of church and state. They invent facts to support their goals in current controversies, such as the claims of WMD in Iraq and a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.

Overcoming this divide will be difficult as the right has established a separate media to promote their views which makes Pravda look like an outfit run by amateurs. While sometimes the truth was able to make it through to those indoctrinated by Pravda, the right wing is more resistant to considering reality. News sources which contradict their alternative reality are branded as being guilty of liberal bias. They avoid actual debate with opposing viewpoints by regularly distorting and misquoting them. If that is insufficient they resort to diversionary tactics such as the attacks of the Swift Boat Liars and most recently the noise over the MoveOn ad.

Obama has a difficult task ahead as he attempts to unite this country, but it is a goal worth attempting. Fortunately a growing number of people have become wise to the faults of the extremists in control of the Republican Party, leaving hope that they will become increasingly marginalized.

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5 Comments

  1. 1
    VCubed says:

    Thanks, good summary. Pundits underestimate how sick and tired people are of being jerked around by politicians as if they were directing some movie scene: show anger, feel vengeful, shout ’em down! No thanks. I volluntter for O, and I meet so many Obama supporters (Republicans, Dems and Independents) who are for him just for that quality of debating policies with reason, not emotional manipulation.

    The only emotion he tries to manipulate is to turn despair into hope – that kind of manipulation we don’t mind, as it’s based on reality. He really will change the way this country operates when he becomes president without any debts or obligations to lobbyists, PACs or 527s – only to us. That’s where his true possibility lies. His experience? More in foreign policy than Edwards (sorry Edwardians; he co-sponsored the Iraq War Resolution, did you know that?). His ethics? Stellar, one of his greatest legislative accomplishments in his short time in the US Senate, and certainly more than Sen. Clinton has done. Rock on Obama!

    Everyone, Lt. Mark Lippert, Naval Reserve, foreign policy aide to Sen. Obama, has been deployed to Iraq. Please read the story in the WSJ and keep him, his loved ones, and all who serve in your prayers/thoughts. And join an Obama Group and prep care packages to send to Iraq and Afghanistan, eh? Keep on pushing with all your might for an exit, but keep sending them some TLC to help them keep/reclaim their humanity meanwhile, please.

  2. 2
    Nikki says:

    Obama’s message of hope is causing people to donate and participate more than they ever have before. It is amazing how many people I know personally are getting involved in a campaign for the first time ever. These people are going to rallies and talking to friends about a Senator who is serving his first term in Washington. Obama has already brought change and he’s not even president yet.

  3. 3
    Danielle Clarke says:

    I loved what you had to say. Either people are very smart and will go for Obama or i am putting all my extra cash in a candidate who this country “really really” needs. I have switched to democrat to vote in Pa but i know Barack is not the average Democrat.

  4. 4
    J. Reilly says:

    I haven’t voted for a candidate in 12 years.
    I was leaning towards Obama before I started seeing some negative press on him, especially in the New York Times. I also noticed that many punfits, especially Republicans seem to conclude that Hillary will be the nominee.

    But then I researched and found to m y greatest surprise that Obama had the largest grassroots organization, he had the most money, the most supporters and was drawing the biggest crowds and people want to listen to him more than they want to listen to any other candidate. I asked myself, “How can this be? with Hillary CLINTON in the race?”

    That was it for me. It doesn’t matter what people say or write. No magic can stop that guy! I gotta tell you. As far I’m concerned, he’s already the next President.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    “As far I’m concerned, he’s already the next President.”

    It is way to early to predict Obama will win, or that Clinton has already clinched victory.

    Look back to Dean four years ago. That showed both that being the front runner didn’t guarantee victory, or that having what appears to be the most grass roots support doesn’t guarantee victory. At this stage either could win, and it is also possible (but less likely) for one of the dark horses to also win.

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