Thinking politics this Friday afternoon. Apologies if it seems like all I talk about lately, but I am very much into the culture that shapes our society, and from now to November it's politics. This presidential election will be epic. It's going to be more revealing than any election in my lifetime. It will expose a cacophony of issues that will be weighed against each other and whatever emerges as the foremost one has the potential to shape our country's future more than the Iraqi War, perhaps even more than 9/11.
Back in February I called that John McCain will be President while recognizing that I had called Obama almost a year and a half before. I acknowledged that the landscape had changed significantly: McCain was a surprise nominee and Hillary hung on long enough to damage Obama's chances to the point that he won't win in November [ultimately, getting what she wants so she can run again in 2012]. While the internet is teeming with young people and pundits claiming Obama is polling incredibly against McCain, it's a smokescreen.
Take, for instance, McCain's speech on Tuesday when Obama clinched. His campaign advisers wanted him to get some pub and scheduled an appearance earlier in the night. McCain was very obviously off, the crowd was apatheticâ€” a pretty embarrassing scene. Juxtapose that with Obama's impassioned speech, working the crowd into a delirious frezy and it appeared like the changing of the guard. Some people see this as an indication of things to come, but what people have overstated since JFK vs Nixon is that personality wins out in the television age.
Remember this: while Obama nails prepared speeches, he struggled in debates. And even though McCain struggles through his speeches with a certain awkwardness, he's at his best when speaking off the cuff. Don't be surprised if the debates swing the Republican's way.
Despite Obamamania, the real issue will probably not be change. In the end, it will come down to two things: race and policy position.
While Hillary's campaign continued to the end to see that Obama had a problem with white, working people, I'm not convinced this will fully transition to the primary. There are still pockets of racism in our country and, when joined together with the charges of Obama's connection to Islam [which you think would have been erased with the Reverend Wright controversy but hasn't] will lose him so votes in a few states. But I'm not convinced that race is enough alone to do Obama in.
What will really determine things is Obama's liberal stances. The thing that hasn't been discussed is that, if elected, Obama would be the most liberal President this country has ever had [more so than Bill or Hillary Clinton]. Regardless of party affiliation, most Americans are decidedly moderate. Too much of a swing towards either extreme will turn people off. Even with their differences on the war, Obama's views on foreign policy and health care are not necessarily main stream. So people will look twice before voting. Then, as the fall approaches, prejudices will work their own way out, McCain will exploit the issues that make Obama less desirable towards the moderates, and the Republicans will win the White House.
But the biggest issue will come to light after November. An Obama loss will bring the issue of race to the forefront of American conversation. Obama backers, regardless of their own race, will cry out that ours is a racist country that will never elect a black man, let alone a minority. Those who disagree will deny that this charge is unvalidated, claiming it was Obama's liberality that really brought on his defeat.
And the truth will be somewhere in the middle. But levels of distrust will grow and America will be more divided than it was after the 2000 election.
That's why I'm tracking this election closely. It's going to change our country, no matter who wins.