Thanks to my personal panopticon--the site meter--I've noticed and increase in traffic from people doing Google searches for websites that are supposed to help voters pick a presidential candidate. Since the primary voting season will be over in a few months, I assume these searches are being done by undecided folks with an choice nigh. In this month's Los Angeles Magazine, John Powers sums it up quite well:
When I ask friends which presidential candidate they like best, they usually say John Edwards. When I ask whose election they’d find most thrilling, they nearly all tell me Barack Obama (though they wish he’d stop being so damn drab during the debates). When I ask who they actually agree with, most laugh and say Dennis Kucinich. But when I ask who they think is going to get the nomination, they all say Hillary Clinton—often with an audible groan.Which makes me wonder about the triangulation and rationalizations that people go through when making this choice. (Using the example above) If Kucinich best matches your political views, what would make you vote for someone who disagrees with your views? I expect for some voters, they realize they are voting for someone who will run against the candidate nominated by the other party. For others, I believe it's a desire to vote for a winner.
This seems to come across in David Brooks recent op/ed piece in the NY Times.
Iowa won’t settle the race, but the rest of the primary season is going to be colored by the glow of this result. Whatever their political affiliations, Americans are going to feel good about the Obama victory, which is a story of youth, possibility and unity through diversity — the primordial themes of the American experience.
And Americans are not going to want to see this stopped. When an African-American man is leading a juggernaut to the White House, do you want to be the one to stand up and say No?
Yes, America loves a winner! Even Ed Winkleman, a fellow blogger of art and politics (and an Edwards supporter) seems to be caught winner's fever. I watched the YouTube video he posted--Obama's Iowa Victory Speech--and I couldn't help but notice the lack of specific content. His message seemed to be one of hope, and as my grandpa never said, "Hope in one hand, shit in the other, and what are you left with?"
The three top-tier Democratic candidates, all heavily covered and promoted by the media conglomerates that bring you news and entertainment, and provide you with your connection to the Interweb, will do little to change the status quo. In the speech, Obama talks about hope and change, and equates Iowa voter's choice and hope with that of civil rights demonstrators (about 12 minutes in). This seems a bit disingenuous, when the implied change is more akin to switching from Coke to Pepsi. Obama supports increased military spending. How does the continued writing of checks to Halliburton and Blackwater support real change?
who, as Bill Moyers put it, "Speak truth to power." My vote is to keep those voices alive and part of the political process. A vote for a lower-tier candidate will keep the conversation going up through the party convention. I've contributed to both the Gravel and Kucinich campaigns (on my paltry graduate assistant salary). Whether you send a C-note or a Hamilton, continued finances for their campaigns will keep independent candidates in the debates, and perhaps a position closer to one you actually hold will be heard.