Friday, February 15, 2008

Superdelegates and Me

I took the time to write a note to the superdelegates as requested by David Plouffe, Barack Obama's campaign manager, explaining my support for Obama. This was, in my opinion, a clever move on the part of the campaign; I'd heard they were specifically trying to prevent their supporters from relentlessly pestering superdelegates in unauthorized fashion, and had some kind of coordinated plan in mind. This is it. They're collecting testimonials and bits of persuasion, collating the best material themselves, and then distributing it. Sure, the end result will be a little more polished and less perfectly representative than the pool it's drawn from. On the other hand, it'll spare the superdelegates aggressive rants, a good deal of pablum, and mountains of repetitive material.

I decided that, since I hate telephoning, this was one thing I could try my hand at. You can too, at the above link, if you're a supporter. Since I bothered to write it, I figured I might as well post it here too, and come out as a true partisan.
I went into this primary season undecided. It was not for lack of paying attention; I follow election politics closely, but I liked both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I'd read Clinton's autobiography and Obama's Audacity of Hope. I'd read endless discussions of their relative merits and demerits on political blogs and in the press. I felt Clinton was a tough progressive with her head screwed on straight about most issues, who'd been unfairly maligned by right and left for many years. I was impressed by Obama's pragmatism and eagerness to look past kneejerk ideological posturing in seeking solutions, his humor and charm, his charisma, and his tremendous facility with language.

For a long time I'd told others I was "leaning slightly" toward Obama, but I didn't make up my mind for certain until the actual primary campaign drama began to unfold. That seems like an age ago, the beginning of January. Since then, I've become progressively more sure of my vote until my preference has become something of a passion. The highly distinct campaigns the two candidates are running are the reason why.

While I like Clinton personally, her campaign has failed to show a unifying vision for the country. Across the board, her strategy has been to dismiss and divide. Whether it's downplaying the importance of African-American voters in South Carolina, leaving aside entire rural states-- like Idaho or North Dakota-- as unworthy of attention, or using surrogates to make racially-tinged remarks about Obama, her campaign has chosen badly if it wishes to attract goodwill and maintain a rapport with all segments of the American electorate.

Obama, to his great credit, has taken the opposite tack. His campaign is inclusive and has clearly brought a sense of individual political empowerment to many volunteers. There is campaign presence in every state, and it is diffuse and democratic in nature. Watching 15,000-person rallies in Boise and listening to volunteers gush about the pleasures of door-to-door canvassing in Nevada and phone-banking nationwide... I can believe, not only that Obama will bring millions of new voters into Democratic politics this year, but that the enthusiasm and skills they've learned from their activism on his behalf will carry over into continued engagement with the work of the nation after he is President. (The potential down-ticket effects for Democrats are nothing to sneeze at, either.)

I'm a 36-year-old almost-divorced mother living in Bozeman, Montana. Although Montana has tended to vote Republican in presidential elections, we now have two Democratic U.S. Senators, as well as a very successful Democratic governor. Obama has shown tremendous strength in this region of the country. I believe he would have a real chance to win this "red" state, and others like it, in the general election-- and paint vast acreages blue on the national map. I urge you to cast your vote for the candidate who is living and breathing the 50-state strategy, and make Montana matter again.
So, it's short, it's trite, it's not terribly personal; maybe you can do better. Give it a shot.

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