September 14, 2008
Memo to Democratic activists: you're missing the point, and you're blowing it for Obama
Posted by: Kevin
A little unsolicited advice for my friends on the anti-Republican side (termed so from the explosion of negativity they ushered into the discourse on the day after the Democratic Convention).
Stop blaming Barack Obama for the sinking prospects of his ticket -- and your vain hopes for winning the election without a real fight. Stop crying about racism or unfairness or "two Americas". Stop turning Sarah Palin into a martyr to millions of suburban white women and rural working class Americans (who didn't back your guy in the primaries, mind you). Stop questioning the sanity and the intelligence of half of your country.
And listen up. Time is running out.
You want to earn this election, or simply caterwaul all the way to the finish line and blow it yet again? Well, go back and watch the greatest hits of Obama's thundering primary speeches and tweeze out the most salient political messages which set him apart from Hillary Clinton more than anything else. He called for an end to exactly what you're doing right now. He promised to end the division in this country and unite people behind a broad mandate for change. He promised to bring radical change in tone and spirit, embodied in his own face, mind and life experiences. And he appealed for -- and rightly earned -- the nation's respect without regard to his young age, his relative lack of experience, or his race.
And the day after Obama's crowing triumph at becoming the party's nominee, you suddenly veered into an out-of-control orgy of hateful, negative attacks on Sarah Palin that became so thick, so noisy and so ridiculous that nearly all of the undecided voters out there (who will decide this election) quickly tuned you -- and the media, for the most part -- out. Now, whatever real and genuine criticism that can be leveled at her is being ignored by a chunk of voters whose backs got up fast, and who saw someone in Palin that they could relate to, both in her strengths and in the attacks leveled against her. An impressive and confident wife and mother being disrespected, talked down to, underestimated, ripped apart with vicious intensity -- even martyred. (You'd think politically saavy and experienced African American or gay activists would get it and see it, and knock it off.)
Folks - from a purely Democratic partisan point of view, you are creating a political monster here, and you're revealing how unprepared you were to win over the middle. Indeed, your contempt for the very voters you need on your side to win is showing. And the "elite" label will stick if you keep it up.
So many pro-Obama commentators (most of them white) are carrying on about the "sea of white faces" in the GOP convention hall. I just watched Palin's speech again. What I saw was a sea of white female faces. Mostly older. Yes - the same faces who opposed Obama in the primaries in many vital states you need to win in November. And if the delegate opinion polls were any indication, these were not your Republican church ladies of yore. They were quite a bit more diverse than ever. I also noticed some old white male faces -- Senators, governors -- smiling and clapping a bit nervously. I saw a sort-of-downcast Newt Gingrich, despite his follow-on hackery in support of the ticket. Those old bulls saw the wild reaction in that hall - and it wasn't a bunch of Pat Robertson acolytes down there screaming. It was a whole lot of women, full of energy, who in some state parties have been itching to take over. It was something that must have unnerved those guys, too. It might be another patented McCain fuck-over.
This year should be favoring the Democrats, and the issues should be deciding everything. And yet you've turned this into a clash between two sets of change-agents, and an ugly one at that. You're ruining Obama's strategic narrative, and you're giving a woman you claim to be unqualified a set of knee-guards and a sharper sword in the battle against you're own guy. And she's winning the first round!!
You really think Obama is better on the issues, and better qualified? Good. Then stop acting like high school children and talk about the issues like adults. Stop making fun of her hair, her clothes, her family, her accent and her church. Stop inventing nonsense, and mauling her teenaged children. Stop being that nasty elitist pack of snots that the Republicans are saying you are. You're managing to take up so much airtime that Obama himself is finding it hard to break through the noise.
Take a look at this video from a BBC docudrama on the rise of Margaret Thatcher. And before you roll your eyes and screech about the comparison, just take a look. And you'll see how the men (and women) in Britain who had their heads up their asses in all political quarters turned her into the political giant she became, simply by underestimating her, and all the folks out there like her in the electorate. Whether she was right or wrong politically in your judgment, you have to admit that all of her opponents (until her own downfall after an historic 11 1/2 year reign) were eventually crushed under her heels from the moment she grabbed the nation's attention.
Watch, and learn. Or lose.
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