Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cold Day Ending

by Tom Bozzo

Ken's series of posts notwithstanding, I voted for Obama this evening. Just before 5:30, I put the 881st accepted ballot in the reader, suggesting that by 8:00 there would be a fair number more votes cast than the 1125 in the 2004 primary. My reasons are old-fashioned: I like his proposed policies on balance a little better than Clinton's, and I think he's run a much better campaign so far.

There's no question that the Republicans will send out the hounds regardless of who gets the nomination, but Obama's 50-state campaign shrewdly attacks a McCain candidacy at its areas of putative strength — appeal to independents and pan-partisan moderates — which is really non-evil Rovianism. Early indications are that Obama would force McCain to contest previously safe states like Virginia when the Republicans have dissipated tens of millions of dollars on candidates who can barely get their trophy wives to vote for them.

Much of the Obama backlash is risible. The meme that he's the candidate of pretty words and no substance doesn't hold water given the broad array of issues for which he's established more-or-less detailed positions. Others may, of course, think otherwise, but David Brooks's "the candidate's a lib—" column in today's NYT ought to be proof enough that I'm at least getting the solidly left-of-center-left candidate I think I am.

That's not to say that there's anything wrong with promoting hope. We got into this mess, in no small part, by forces that played first on apathy (it doesn't matter whether you vote for Bush or Gore; they're sides of the same coin) and later fear ('Don't Change Horsemen in Mid-Apocalypse'). And one thing was for sure at the polling place, there were a lot of young people registering to vote for the first time. Bryan Caplan might deplore the extension of the franchise to non-believers in Caplanism, and maybe some of those kids will cast votes that I wouldn't. But I'd have to think that it's harder to assemble 51% of the electorate for preservation of the current corporatist oligarchy the more people actually have their say.

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