Patrick Nielsen Hayden explains why he voted for Obama in the primary (he did it by absentee ballot). Key graphs:
I’m for Obama knowing perfectly well that, as Bill Clinton suggested, it’s a “roll of the dice”. A roll of the dice for Democrats, for progressives, for those of us who’ve fought so hard against the right-wing frames that Obama sometimes (sometimes craftily, sometimes naively) deploys. Because I think a Hillary Clinton candidacy will be another game of inches, yielding—at best—another four or eight years of knifework in the dark. Because I think an Obama candidacy might actually shake up the whole gameboard, energize good people, create room and space for real change.
Because he seems to know something extraordinarily important, something so frequently missing from progressive politics in this country, in this time: how to hearten people. Because when I watch him speak, I see fearful people becoming brave.
I’ve noted before that I’m not voting for presidential candidates in the upcoming Ohio primary because I’m registered independent and it’s a closed primary, but if I were, I suspect I would probably end up voting for Obama myself. I’d do it for some of the reasons Patrick notes, and also because I think he has a chance to be a generational candidate — someone who will bring new voters into the process. If this ends up a contest between Obama and McCain (and it’s pretty clear McCain is going to be the Republican choice, which is a whole box of irony that I will unpack some other time), this election has the potential to go down as one of those watershed elections in American history, something that hasn’t happened since Reagan. I could stand a bit of watershed at this point in time.
That said, as Patrick notes, there are worse things than Hillary Clinton. A friend of mine who is voting for her today in a primary was grousing to me last night that Clinton isn’t getting much of a fair shake in the media, which clearly seems to loathe her and which also has a swoon going on for Obama. This is a fair complaint, but it’s also worth noting that life isn’t fair, and that little fact has worked for Clinton in the past; I don’t doubt she could have had a fine political career if she’d never met Bill Clinton, but the fact she did has worked considerably to her benefit to date. Now she has to deal with the downside of all that.
And yes, that does work in Obama’s favor. I mean, Hell. Personally I’d love not to give Fox News a frothy-mouthed gimme for the next 4 to 8 years, and yeah, I’m philosophically inclined against presidential dynasties (look what the last one got us). But as I’ve mentioned before I do think the GOP funamentally fears a Clinton candidacy, because the Clinton crew is the only one on the Democrat side that is fundamentally unafraid of the GOP smear machine; they hit back, and they hit below the belt. Like it or not, that does have value, or will, when we get into the thick of the actual presidential campaign.
I don’t think today is going to be the end of either Obama or Clinton; the race is too close and the Democrats in their wisdom generally portion out delegates proportionally rather than winner-take-all in each state; I suspect at the end of the evening, they’ll both still be in the running. I’m fine with this; it’ll give the folks in my state the feeling that their primary votes will mean something when they vote in March. I do think at this point momentum is with Obama. The longer the race goes, the more likely it is he’ll be the one to finish it.