Obama: The Wait and See Candidate

 I’ll be watching for it, though, with great hope.

MissLaura at DailyKos sums up my feelings on Obama perfectly.  He seems to be in a constant state of protentional, with a full realization of his promise just around the corner.  He already takes flak for for not being concrete, and those kind of critiques can only grow in number and resonance as time flows on.  Laura’s own analysis nails two particular points of interest.

First, his desire to embrace the struggle for equality, and his desire to move beyond struggle (Mike via MissLaura):

So, much as Elwood has suggested on this site, part of Obama’s message is Camelot awaits: after a period of vicious partisan fighting, he is ready to lead us to that peace beyond.

This is an acceptable message in itself, and it’s similar to what centrists like Bayh are preaching.

But is it the final destination of Obama’s thought? Within 30 seconds of stating we have to come together as a nation, he begins to give examples of Americans bonding together in “hope” and overcoming obstacles. And a good number of them are very us v. them: The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, The Women’s Suffrage movement, the Civil Rights movement.

There’s a very clear rift here which Obama will have to resolve.

Second, the kind of campaign he is running (MissLaura, emphasis mine):

My second question about Obama comes when he says that “change never comes from the top down. Change comes from the bottom up.”  Drawing the kinds of crowds he is – over 5,000 at Dartmouth College (located in Hanover, NH, population around 11,000) – is impressive, and word from around New Hampshire at least is that Obama has much larger numbers of active volunteers than is usual for a campaign this early.  The potential is there for a really participatory, movement-oriented campaign.  But it is not yet entirely clear how Obama is running a new kind of campaign, organizationally speaking, how he’s incorporating bottom-up voices in his message and his leadership.  I’ll be watching for it, though, with great hope.  Such a campaign strategy embraced by a top-tier candidate has the potential to transform politics in a much-needed way.

He has promised what every Democracy afficionado truly hungers for:  greater participation.  “Bottom-Up” Politics is an incredibly seductive thought, left or right wing.  Arguably, aside from issues of survival political determination is the issue in a republic.  Obama is tapping into the accompanying desire very effectively.  The question is will he follow through?

I’ll wait and see.

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5 Responses

  1. Very good description of his candidacy. He’ s JFK without the substance.

  2. Well my excitement for Obama has abated a bit. A fear he may turn into another Napoleonic figure, especially on foreign affairs with Israel and Palestine. To many questions, to little answers.

  3. I’ll take Obama over Hillary anyday.

  4. Two reasons why I’m cool on Obama:

    His statement that as prez he will maintain US forces in Iraq
    and
    http://www.harpers.org/archive/2006/11/0081275

    If he is the candidate, I could and would support him. Not so for Hillary.

  5. I think candidate x over Hillary is pretty much standard, party affiliation aside. Frankly there isn’t a single candidate out there, in any party, who excites me. Now potential candidates? Oh yes. Gore.

    That being said, I think Obama has that JFK potential. Which is why I’m still on the fence, but in a very hopeful way.

    I try not to think about Hillary as the nominee. It helps me sleep at night.

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