The presidential contest has exciting- we have three strong, smart people grappling for the nomination of the Democratic party- and Americans are spoiled for choice. The British papers have been rather clumsy in trying to drum up controversy, and CNN has been shameful in trying to fan waves and latent sexism/racism/ your ism here politics. But it has been rather thrilling, actually, because as much I don’t like Clinton ( see reasons below) and think that Obama should wait until he is 55 (see below) and think that John Edwards is best to take care of Elizabeth and enjoy time with his young children ( see below) I would be satisfied with any of them in Office.
Hillary Clinton, is, in many ways, a little like the Richard Nixon of her party. She is awkward, arrogant, paranoid, lacks a sense of grace and diplomacy, and radiates a sense of entitlement. She is also very smart, very pretty, efficient and extremely hard working. In that case, Mrs. Clinton represents her generation and class rather well: the corporate class of the slightly liberal but extremely well off. This is the class that saw her husband through the 1990s and who is supporting her today. This is why you have Robert Johnson, founder of BET, amongst others, who support her: they believe in an America which is defined by personal choice and consumption habit, of all people united under the rules of a hierarchical corporation – thus the talk that the White House as being the toughest glass ceiling to break. A lot of Americans believe in this corporate view of American life- in fact, a great majority does, I think- and thus her very real appeal. This appeal, however, is what turns me dead off her. I really don’t care about glass ceilings nor corporate interests, and if George Stephanopoulos is correct, Mrs. Clinton would not have a problem stabbing people in the back nor settling scores. Sure, I would vote for her, I just won’t like her or love her.
John Edwards is the consummate smooth Southern politician- but with a difference: he deeply cares about people being exploited, and has not been afraid to take on lawsuits to rectify wrongs. Say what you will about trial lawyers, and inject all the cheap jokes that you want, but without lawyers who care and give a damn, corporate life would simply run us even more deeply in the ground than they already do. His policy suggestions are sound, and he is a refreshing change from his former running mate John Kerry.
And yet, Elizabeth is sick. And yes, Elizabeth is deeply brave person- to go one after the death of a beautiful son, to have more children and to be the true rock on which her husband is grounded on- yes, she is awesome, in all aspects of that word. But, indeed, should he be running? It is early yet, and he may yet pickup delegates. But still, we would all be worried about Elizabeth. Let me say now that I am a Edwards supporter, despite my incorrect race and gender- he says and means radical things for people, and feel out of the three John would not be so beholden to corporate interests.
Barack Obama. He is the Romantic, the Chosen One, the Midwestern Prince. He is the irritant in the well oiled Clinton Democratic machine, and he has had quite a swooning honeymoon with the press and the people. Bill Clinton was right, in a way, about how Obama has been received- it does have a fairy tale quality about it. ( Of course, Mr. Clinton conveniently forgot his own fairy tale telling of his rise to greatness with his story of the boy scout from Hope, Arkansas who shook hands with Kennedy. Never mind about that!)
But there is reason for the fairy tale quality. The man is genuinely, shockingly good. He admits to all his faults- the restlessness, the cockiness- and knows himself pretty well. He respects and loves his wife and children; note the word respect. We know there would be no foolishness that would be made public to shame his family. He is of a mixed race background, from a broken family and someone who had to take out loans to go to school and had to go through a long growing up period to become the man he is now. His policies are Midwestern moderate but grounded towards being progressive. He is not afraid to tell segments of African American community to stop exploiting and treating each other cruelly. He is not afraid of political stances that could cost him, nor is he afraid of deliberation. Obama is the spiritual heir of both Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman- the multitudes of America, held in a deliberate Midwestern man. His appeal is to the very idealistic, that person (s) who did not forget Whitman or Lincoln his history or in literature- someone who can approach the multitudes in himself and in others and create a working citizenry. It’s a frightening, tender appeal- we haven’t had many philosopher-presidents in our history, and it is frightening times, one that call for a either a fighter ( Edwards) or a practical corporate officer ( Mrs. Clinton). But a philosopher? If he does not go all the way, it would great to see Obama at 55, instead of 47. The philosophy will be held up by experience.
Gosh. What wonderful choices.