Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Super Tuesday for Hillary and Barack

I meant to blog on the Super Tuesday results, but I had too much on my mind and docket to finish the post I began (I've just posted 2-3 posts I'd partially begun, and the one on the Kara Walker show is coming), but let me congratulate both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton on their victories two days ago.

What most grabbed my attention was the far larger turnout (was it 14 million vs. 8 million?) for the Democratic primaries and caucuses versus those of the Republicans, and the disparity held not only in the Democratic or Democratic-trending strongholds like California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Connecticut, but also in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Georgia. In Missouri alone, the Democrats drew 230,000 more voters than the GOP. I see this as an excellent sign for the fall, provided the eventual Democratic nominee (be it Clinton or Obama) can match or exceed these numbers against the likes of McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Another fascinating outcome was that Obama won all of the "caucuses" except New Mexico, and many of the Republican-leaning states in the south and west (save Tennessee), while Clinton won most of the traditional "blue" states on the east and west coasts. The question is, can she win some of the states he did in November, or, if McCain is GOP candidate, can Obama win over enough Latinos in states like California and New Jersey if he's the nominee to sail to victory, and what about any of those southern states, like Arkansas or Georgia? I don't think either candidate has a chance in some of the longtime Republican-leaning spots like Utah (unless Huckabee is on the ticket) or Idaho, but the pair, if they formed a joint ticket, could bring in a number of states the Democrats must win in order to take back the White House. She energizes women voters, working-class voters, Latinos, he excites Black folks, highly educated liberals and moderates, some former Republicans, and lots of young people. I can't see Clinton running as his VP, for a host of reasons, but I also wonder if he'd take the VP slot, which would turn him into even more of a target down the road for the GOP.

The Obama victory and general success for both candidates in Missouri was especially pleasing to me. I'm not even 45, but I thought I'd probably have to make it to 65 to see a black candidate win a primary in my native state, which has its own particularly complicated and often nasty racial history. It entered the union in 1821 as a slave state, was one of the lesser known but bloodiest battlegrounds during the Civil War (and even had Confederate government in exile), tried its best to mimic the Southern states in post-Reconstruction hatefulness, and even gave the US a president who'd served in the Ku Klux Klan (though he also was the very person who integrated the military and turned out to be better on racial issues than many of his predecessors). The state is often more like Arkansas (though larger and richer) than other states it borders, like Illinois and Iowa, and old attitudes have tended to die slowly and hard(ly). In effect Missouri is several different states: a conservative, Catholic-and-Lutheran midwestern agricultural state (northern Missouri), a Bible-belt Southern evangelical state (southern Missouri), a small-town, moderate state with a sizable state university (central Missouri), a state with two large, wealthy and diverse urban-suburban metropolitan centers (Kansas City and St. Louis, and their surrounding counties, which extend into nearby Kansas and Illinois, respectively). Hillary Clinton won all but 7-8 counties in the non-urban parts of the state, but Obama's margins in just St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Boone County, the home of the University of Missouri-Columbia, were large enough that he was able to win the whole shebang. Together, as I note above, they received 230,000 more votes (many from "independents") than the GOP, which has dominated Missouri politics in recent years. (Cf. the Blunt family, Kit Bond, etc.) Again, I think this is a marvelous sign, though the real test will come when one of them is nominated and must run against the Republican nominee, likely to be John McCain, who barely edged out former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. He is the one I expected to gallop away with votes, so perhaps the economy, the war, and so on, are affecting Missourians, the proverbial people in the "heartland's" bellwether state, more severely than I thought.

This brings me to my last point: as much as I loathe this most incompetent, corrupt, ignorant, and lawless president in our history, I have to thank him in part because his awfulness has, I think, driven even some of the most willfully resistant people to consider electing someone utterly unlike him and many in his party. Whether his awfulness, which continues every single day he stays in office, will be enough to defeat his ideological soulmate, John McCain, I don't know. But I do know that while Clinton probably could have gotten some traction thus far no matter who the Republican in office was, his sheer horribleness has probably helped people look past the issue of race while in the voting booth, if even temporarily. I'm not saying this is the sole or even a major reason, but I would venture that Bush's record of destruction and disaster has helped, in some ways, to reset people's compasses. Has it been worth the price we've paid, nationally and internationally. I can't say yes. But if there's any good to come out of these last eight years, either Clinton or Obama in the White House, with a more liberal and progressive US Senate willing to push more liberal and progressive legislation, while also finally investigating and punishing the criminals who preceded them, would be optimal.


Speaking of targets, Chris sent me this link to Robin Morgan's blistering piece, "Goodbye to All That (#2)," on the gross misogyny and sexism in the campaign. What do you think?

Afronetizen posts author Uzodinma Iweala's critique of the race, and its (lack of substantive) discussions of the role race (and I'd add gender) is playing, both in the campaigns and in this society. Again, what do you think?

1 comment:

  1. "This brings me to my last point: as much as I loathe this most incompetent, corrupt, ignorant, and lawless president in our history, I have to thank him in part because his awfulness has, I think, driven even some of the most willfully resistant people to consider electing someone utterly unlike him and many in his party."

    And with that, there is nothing more to be said. I'm ready for a change.