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Monday, February 18, 2008

WI Primary: One Vote for Obama Tomorrow

It has been snowing off and on in Milwaukee since December 1st. Portions of the sidewalks here are now icy, thanks to a brief melt of snow yesterday. How this affects turnout for the Wisconsin presidential primary tomorrow in this area remains to be seen. I can tell you that speaking as a person who is 41 and whose polling place can be seen from his front door, I can predict one solid vote for Obama in tomorrow’s primary.

I’m a John Edwards guy. I have been ever since he announced his candidacy for Senate in North Carolina in 1998 against Lauch Faircloth, the guy who brought us Ken Starr. Edwards didn’t have traction, and thus he’s on the sidelines delaying an endorsement so as to play both sides of the fence until the voters have clearly chosen a candidate. I’m not waiting for the Edwards imprimatur. I’m now in Obama’s camp.

My wife is also voting for Obama, as is my sister-in-law, who shares the duplex we live in. Among my voting age friends who are actually registered to vote and are politically active, it appears to be a clean sweep. The balance of my voting age friends here are musicians, who either don’t care or have a philosophical objection to voting (PLEASE don’t ask me to explain that on their behalf; it makes my head hurt).

How my informal poll of the voters I know will affect the outcome in the rest of the state remains to be seen, but I feel safe in predicting at least a 5% margin of victory for Obama in Cheeseland tomorrow.

Obama was in town this past Friday at a rally downtown on one of the local college campuses. I was unable to attend due to my work schedule. Two of my friends in their early 30’s attended and reported that they seemed to be the oldest people there, which was not thoroughly unexpected given the locale. The energy level in the room was apparently inescapable. Later that night, they introduced me to the "Hope-O", which apparently consists of holding your arms above your head in the shape of an O, signifying Obama. This reminded me of a less-drunken version of the "E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!" chant from my days in Philadelphia, but it was charming nonetheless.

There are many different reasons as to why people I talk to prefer Obama, but a recurring theme is "we need someone new". Part of my initial reservations about Obama had to do with the idea of "how new is too new". Yet with Edwards out of the race, in my case, Obama was a natural second choice.

Hillary Clinton represents to me a walking and talking last hurrah for the Democratic Leadership Council and a generation of Democrats who came to power by acting like Republicans. In retrospect, who could blame them for inventing that model? Three lackluster presidential candidates in the 1980’s had all been trounced, as America (not me) embraced the senile daydreams of Ronald Reagan.

Thanks to George W. Bush, America’s view of Republicanism, to put it mildly, has changed dramatically. Despite his eternal POW status and the adulation received by him in the mainstream media, John McCain has a long legislative and quote record that flies in the face of virtually everything he delivers in his stump speeches. Add to that his advanced age and unevolved temperament and you have a recipe for a Democratic winner later this year.

Hillary Clinton now finds herself as a Democrat searching for a vision of a political moderate that no longer exists. Only the 25% that still backs Bush and Cheney want to talk about things like the evils of mass entertainment. When Clinton went after the video game industry last year, I wondered if her home in Chappaqua was actually a cave. After 12 years of South Park and about 10 years of Grand Theft Auto, the entertainment scapegoat has long since escaped from the corral. There are no Pavlovian dogs listening for that bell anymore. People now realize that those types of arguments are meant to distract from the fact that there has been a catastrophic redistribution of wealth in this country going on unchecked since Reagan took office in 1981.

If that wasn’t enough, the recent rhetoric coming out of the Clinton campaign regarding what is and what is not an important primary state is truly appalling. If I’m looking for an inclusive candidate, this is not the ideal message to be communicated.

As I slip down the icy pavement to my polling place tomorrow to retrieve a ballot from the nonagenarian poll worker sitting behind the table, I shall think of the ease of this decision. I had voted for third party candidates going back to 1984 until George W. Bush became the Republican nominee in 2000. The thought of Bush as my president was enough to vote for Al Gore, and then John Kerry 4 years later. Barack Obama is a candidate I can vote for enthusiastically, rather than the lesser of two evils. I respect those that would choose Clinton over Obama. I simply see the situation differently.

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