Thursday, February 14, 2008
The Symptoms Of Election Fatigue
Somewhere over the past week something turned for me, so whereas before I'd honestly felt that an extended campaign for the Democratic nomination was a good thing that would bring out the best in the candidates and the party, now I've got a serious case of election fatigue. It's not just that I'm mildly sick of both Clinton and Obama. It's that the longer this thing drags on without a resolution, the more full of crap both of them seem to be.
So, for instance, when Clinton says she's going to fight for the unpledged superdelegates even if she's behind in pledged delegates when the voting's done, that seems perfectly legit. It's an election, after all, one that she wants to win, and the unpledged superdelegates are, oddly enough, not actually pledged. But when she talks about trying to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates, that's very obviously the type of win-at-all-costs approach that might have served Al Gore well in Florida seven years ago, but is entirely uncalled for in an up to now riveting and fairly above board Democratic primary election.
Then there's the debate question. Clinton has every right to press for more debates with Obama, since it's a format in which, by consensus, she seems to have an advantage. But to suggest that Obama has some obligation to debate her is ludicrous, especially if by ducking her he suffers less among voters than he would by taking part. It's not the most honorable move, perhaps, and Clinton can call him out on it all she wants. But if you try to win at all costs, you can't fault your opponent for doing so too.
Meanwhile, when Obama resorts to hackneyed political phrases, like calling Clinton's debate ad the "same old politics", it becomes all too clear that his above-the-fray posture is simply a well-worn routine from the "same old politics" repertoire, albeit one that he's enjoyed more success with than anyone else who has used it before. As for his dazzling speeches before legions of transfixed supporters, they perfectly illustrate the defining conceit of Obama's campaign -- the artifice of authenticity -- whereby he does the same thing night after night while managing to give each successive audience the impression that they're privvy to a unique and special experience.
Moreover, when he talks about uniting the Red states and the Blue states, I for one get the distinct impression that he's still something of a stranger to many of those states he's referring to. As if he's actually getting aquainted with the country he aspires to preside over through the very campaign he's waging to convince voters to elect him. Say what you will about Clinton's experience or lack thereof, but she did register voters in Texas thirty years ago, and she did work for a children's legal fund in Connecticut twenty-five years ago, and something tells me that she's checked back in regularly with just about everyone she ever met in both places ever since. Which is why she doesn't give the same speech in El Paso as she does in New Haven.
It's bad enough when general elections are decided by 800 votes in Dade County. But there really seems to be a crisis in the decision-making process when we can't even select the candidates anymore. I know democracy is the worst system except for all the others. But I'm thinking that with the advent of Web 3.0 they're bound to come up with some widget that works better than this.