Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It's turning me into a low-grade political news junkie

SOMETHING'S GOING ON HERE. I confess to being more than mildly fascinated by the current race for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. I've become a bit of a low-grade political news junkie since a few days before the first Super Tuesday. Whenever I can, I tune in to CNN or MSNBC for an update, or pull up a polling blog on the Internet. Apparently I am far from alone. Citizens--at least Democratic citizens--are turning out for rallies and going to the voting booth in historic numbers. Something out of the ordinary is going on here.

IOWA SURPRISE, SUBSEQUENT RISE. Back in Autumn, I admired Obama for his Christian faith and progressive politics, having listened and viewed online his "Call to Renewal" message and read of his efforts to bridge historic divides. He opposed the war in Iraq for all the right reasons and ran his campaign for the U. S. Senate based, in part, on this. But he was a rookie Senator; no one would take him seriously, I thought. Then he won, incredibly, the Iowa Caucuses. Apparently, his presence, proposed policies, ability to articulate ideas, and organizational ability have convinced many that his lack of experience and youth are not the most important factors for moving forward to a legitimate Presidential bid.

BOBBY KENNEDY-ESQUE. The meteoric rise of Barack Obama, along what his movement represents in terms of hopes and ideals for many who are weary of business as usual, is a phenomenon I haven't ever seen. It is being compared to the candidacy of Bobby Kennedy; I was nine years old when Kennedy was a candidate. Even then, even in West Virginia, we sensed the vibrancy and hope embodied in him. Obama seems to bear a similar presence and to articulate a hope for some fundamental changes in a government that seems bought, inaccessible, unresponsive, and mired in commitments to use violence as a first response to international crises. I'm thinking I'll be telling stories of this campaign to my grandchildren years from now.

WHAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN. I do not know if Obama will win the Democratic nomination. He will do well just to survive the Clinton machine, which is currently throwing the kitchen sink at him and following a scorched earth campaign policy. If she can't win, her campaign currently seems committed to crippling the eventual contest winner (Interesting, isn't it, that Obama has not brought up a thing out of Clinton's sordid political past.). Let's hope for a better outcome. The citizens of Texas and Ohio, in particular, have been treated to as intense a primary campaign as has ever been waged. We'll see how they vote and we'll see where the process stands this time tomorrow. May these candidates show respect for the renewal of civic engagement this contest has generated.

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