Category ArchiveCampaign 2008
Campaign 2008 Posted by Oaktown Girl, 02 Oct 2007 05:32 am
Last Thursday I happened to hear Randi Rhodes on a serious “Draft Al Gore” bender. Now, I like Randi Rhodes a lot. I agree with her probably 90% of the time, and think overall she does a heck of a service providing a passionate, informative alternative to the screaming loony Right.
I also like Al Gore, and think he’s providing a heck of a service as well. But as a possible Presidential contender, I can’t say that he is so head and shoulders above the current slate of Democratic candidates (or, conversely that the current slate is so bad) that we need to turn all our attention to getting Gore into the race at this late stage.
For the record, Al Gore has not ruled out running for office again (specifically, for the Presidency). In interviews, he makes it a point to never say “never”. This, I feel, serves no one… except possibly Al Gore?
The Presidency is not something to be approached passively - waiting in the wings for the cries of the populace to be so overwhelming that in a heroic act of self-sacrifice you finally acquiesce. No. As much as many of us would like it to be otherwise, you really have to want it, and want it openly. (Note: as in every other goal-oriented matter, if you’re a woman, this makes you a “bitch”). You have to want it openly because you’re going to have to fight to win. How can you effectively fight for something you either don’t want, or are pretending not to want? Remember, Gore was viciously attacked by a corporate media cowed to its knees trying to prove it didn’t have a “liberal bias”. The next Democratic candidate can expect similar treatment, if not more so:
The pundits, however, invariably come around to the same question: “But if he ran, would he revert to the ‘old Gore’?” Another question—in light of countless recent stories about John Edwards’s haircut—might be: Would the media revert to the old media?
-Evgenia Peretz in Vanity Fair**
Without a doubt, Al Gore, and more importantly, the American people, were robbed in 2000. Be that as it may, Gore had his opportunity. Let’s give someone else a chance to prove that they, too, can run a campaign founded on the principle of being a spineless tool of corporate “advisors”.
**Good but long article. Worth reading even if you think you know it all already. Skip the intro and go right to the parts with sub-headings if you are short on time.
It has been an interesting spectator sport watching candidates communicate their faith “approaches” in the political arena. Hillary Clinton seems committed to operating upon faith as a kind of demographic variable to be diplomatically embraced with the help of advisers. John Edwards is fairly typical of the liberal politician: Faith is personal, almost wholly personal, an attribute of both a stout and moral leader and a caring Christian man. No atheism or animosity to religion here, whewww, and none of the nasty side effects of authoritarian, conservative pseudo-Christian warmongering. Edwards is religion in its unthreatening glory– personal, friendly, earnest, and (innocuously?) virtuous. We can all dedicate ourselves to the nobler unifying issues, like healing the economic rift between the “two Americas”.
I won’t discuss the Republican candidates because I find them so sanctimonious, monolithic, and calculating as to be boring and strangely agnostic in their presentations.
Barack Obama, I find to be the most interesting, because his engagement of the action side of faith (organizing communities and confronting the injustice of racism) has presented challenges to the gauzy images that many Americans have come to expect from their religiosity. Patrick DeTemple has already discussed from a ground’s-eye view much about the political side of Obama in a recent post, so I won’t spend too much time there, but Obama serves as an interesting case study of a larger dynamic playing itself out on the political stage, a different kind of “triangulation” in which faith plays a kind of litmus role:
- The negotiation of the dialectical materialist and Marxism-influenced past of the 1960’s, and its own tensions between “opiate of the masses” secularism and liberation theology.
- The desire for a “mainstream” present in which conflicts and hard choices can be fluffed into non-existence or packaged into comfortable simulacra (think of oddly new-age flavored televangelism).
- And the opportunity (and challenges) of a progressive future in which faith might act as a verb, helping us to engage, rather than run from the unknown, and having us come to terms with injustice in the service of a renewed spiritual vision which both embraces diversity and empirical truth and points beyond it.
I recommend the recent front page article in the New York Times on Obama to get a first hand look at this stormy love triangle. Obama was mentored by a scion of the 60’s, Jeremiah Wright, a pastor at Trinity Congregational in Chicago.
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By Patrick DeTemple
[A few weeks back, I met Patrick at a DFA gathering. I was surprised to hear he was already fully committed to the Barack Obama Presidential campaign. I, like most people who plan at some point to be involved, was (and still am) in the camp of “it’s way too early, and besides, I resent like hell that this thing is starting up so early - like Christmas decorations going up even before Halloween. No thank you!
Of course, I expressed my personal “Obama beefs” to Patrick in no uncertain terms - (#1 being his vote for the draconian bankruptcy bill). But mostly I was fascinated to hear how this seasoned, lifelong activist had come to his decision to commit so early and so completely. So I asked him if he’d share his story with us, and he was kind and gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to do so. Thank you, Patrick!
-Oaktown Girl: MOJ, WAAGNFNP.]
In 2004, reenergized by the Howard Dean challenge I was working hard to get John Kerry elected (mostly through data support to 527s via “Map The Vote” and later directly with ACT) and in July I found myself sitting in the Fleet Center with an old UFW organizer colleague, Artie Rodriguez and his family. I had no clue what to expect when Barack Obama took the stage. At the end of the mesmerizing speech that we’ve all now heard Artie and I spun towards each other with crazy grins on our faces and I said “now THAT’S who I want to vote for”. After that we all went back to work for Kerry…but with a little more energy than before.
Maybe the speech hit me (as for so many others) because no matter how hard I work on how many campaigns I always feel like a little bit of an outsider in the official Democratic Party. The reasons are simple: I have a decade’s long focus on issues of social class (which is not the same thing as making poverty less onerous) and a deep belief that politicians who don’t respect the common sense of ordinary people will deservedly get their ass kicked. Barack Obama placed himself in the middle – not of the political spectrum – but the middle of the people, and he spoke from the middle and he made sense. This isn’t the place to say why others don’t or can’t do that but let’s just say that it was unusually refreshing for all of us.
After the loss in ’04 I was not excited about our prospects. I’d voted for John Edwards (loved the ‘Two Americas’ stump speech) and fought to get him on the ticket but with those high expectations his performance was very disappointing. Hillary just reminded me of everything I didn’t like about Al From and the DLC – they make a cynical kind of sense if the only pieces in the game are inside the beltway and the rules consist of ‘things as they are’ but I’ve been an organizer most of my life and that life is built around the constantly tested premise of ‘things as they can be’…so I don’t have that much in common with those folks. Gloomy days.
Then a year later came Al Gore’s speech on Martin Luther King Day, January 2006, and I perked up. Yippee! Al is sounding smart, articulate, gutsy and he’s laying out the big picture with both intellectual integrity and passion – where was this man years ago? And so I began talking, hoping and agitating for Gore to step into the race. That enthusiasm changed in both positive and negative ways over the following months. Seeing him a few more times reminded me that he was still essentially the same Al Gore, the pretty limited candidate that I’d known in 2000 and 1988. On the other hand, his movie reminded me of the passionate, deeply committed thinker who’d written “Earth in the Balance” so long ago. So I was very happy to have Al back in the mix but doubtful about the candidacy.
For Barack I had only high hopes but, viewed from the perspective of politics as usual, Obama was clearly too young and inexperienced to be a serious contender, right? I mean Hillary already had all the money, the keys to the rest of it, the highest paid staff, the major donor bundlers either charmed or beaten into submission, a large disciplined operation that was the envy of all political operators and she still had Bill in reserve. As everyone said back then Hillary had already sucked the oxygen out of the room and nobody could challenge her except maybe Al with netroots support. And then I actually started listening to Barack Obama.
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