Election Winners and Losers

Here are my own election winners and losers, plus some “too early to tell” entries.

Winners:

Barack Obama. Duh. This Hawaiian born and bred biracial intellectual with minimal experience has become perhaps the most unique and remarkable politician in American history. Now we’ll see if he can fix the mess that George Bush and congressional Republicans have made of this country.

Michelle Obama. The Right tried to demonize her into being an anti-white angry black woman who does terrorist fist bumps with her pals-with-terrorists husband. But like her husband, the more you saw of her, the better you felt about her.

I think she benefitted from not being a silent trophy wife; her speech at the Democratic National Convention and numerous media appearances showed her to be articulate, smart, and personable. I have no doubt that America is embracing her as the new First Lady.

Democrats in the Southeast: Who would have predicted even two years ago that a black Democratic presidential candidate would win in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida? And how about the fact that Virginia and North Carolina both sent Democrats to the US Senate this year?

The bottom line is, the southeast has become a new battleground for the parties, after being owned by Republicans the prior two elections. And they could have more success there in the future, if they play their cards right.

Democrats in the Industrial Midwest: The last two northern Democrats to be nominated as presidential candidates were both from Massachusetts. They both lost. This year a candidate from the Midwest gave it a try, and found success.

Observers are saying that the proximity of red states like Iowa and Indiana to Obama’s “home” state of Illinois was a factor in his victories there. I bet that a lot of Democrats from the Midwest are looking at themselves in the mirror and thinking, maybe I’m next.

At least, Obama’s victory disturbs the conventional wisdom that only a southern Democrat has a chance of winning a presidential election.

Organized Labor: Make no mistake, labor put a lot of money and manpower into this election. The Democrats’ success in Pennsylvania and other Great Lakes states is owed in part to their efforts.

Now we’ll see what organized labor wants, and how much they can get from Obama and the Congress. A bail-out for the auto industry seems first on the list.

Internet Based Campaigning: The Obama campaign has become a legend in its own time thanks to its masterful use of the Internet to organize, communicate, and raise money. By the next presidential cycle, everybody will be doing it-or at least, they’ll try.

Cornell Belcher and Leah Daughtry: You probably don’t know these two black technocrats who work for the Democratic Party, but you should.

Cornell Belcher is the first African American to serve as polling director for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Belcher was also a pollster for the Obama campaign. He had the insight that the Democrats could find enough pockets of strength that even a black man could win the presidency. And he was right. (Although he would be the first to say that the toxic environment for Republicans was a huge key to this election.)

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Memo to Ronald Walters: This is NOT the Time to Whine About Patronage.

Dr. Ronald Walters is an icon. He is a distinguished academic on racial politics, and has “street cred” from working with Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988. When he speaks, people listen, and they should.

As such, I am somewhat apologetic for using his name and the word “whine” in the title for this posting. It’s harsh, I know. But I was so disappointed by Walters’ recent article “Obama Not Funding Black Community Turnout”, I couldn’t find any nice words to say. His article just plain gets it wrong. And it points to what may be out-dated ideas concerning what black folks need to further achieve political power in the 21st century.

Wrong from the Start

Things fall apart from the very beginning of the article. Its title-“Obama not funding Black community turnout”-is certainly eye-catching enough. The problem is, it’s not a true statement. In fact, it’s contradicted by Walters’ own comments. In the body of the article, he states that “the Obama campaign is… financing thousands of young kids coming into Black communities to register Black voters.”

So first… let’s talk about voter turnout. Here’s my main problem with this article. Based on its title, you’d think this was all about black voter turnout. But amazingly, Walters neglects to note a very important detail: the outstanding success that the Obama campaign and the DNC have had in registering new black voters, and in bringing all black voters to the polls.

This year’s primaries have seen the largest black Democratic turnout in US history. And efforts to sign new voters and further swell the rolls of black voters continue at a fever pitch. The fact is, the Obama campaign and the Democrats have drawn universal acclaim for their GOTV (get out the vote) efforts in this election year… at least until the article from Dr. Walters.

Clearly, whatever Obama and the Democrats are doing, it’s working. You’d think an astute observer like Dr. Walters would find these achievements laudable and admirable. But he never even mentions them.

Money, Power, Control

Why does Walters start out saying Obama isn’t funding black turnout, and then turn around and say just the opposite? And why does Walters make the glaring error of omission of not even mentioning the success of Obama’s GOTV efforts?

It’s because Walters’ article isn’t about turnout at all. He’s really talking about patronage and control, or the lack thereof. He’s talking about people getting paid.

And in doing so, he’s lost sight of what this election is really about: winning.

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Brief Convention Notes: Hillary, Forum on Black Politics, Michelle

It’s a sure sign of fame, when a person can be referred to by their first name, and everyone knows who is being talked about. So it is with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

I can’t be more emphatic: Hillary Clinton gave a great speech yesterday. It had so many memorable lines, it’s difficult to pick out any one or two of them as prominent. But these parts of her speech were especially memorable for me:

..I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism, didn’t have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care.

I will always remember the young man in a Marine Corps t-shirt who waited months for medical care and said to me: “Take care of my buddies; a lot of them are still over there….and then will you please help take care of me?”

I will always remember the boy who told me his mom worked for the minimum wage and that her employer had cut her hours. He said he just didn’t know what his family was going to do.

…I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

That struck a chord with me, as it no doubt will with many of Clinton’s female supporters.

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Were the Concern Trolls Right About the Harsh Democratic Primary?

The problem for Obama and Clinton: by ratcheting up their attacks on each other, they risk weakening the eventual nominee in the general election against McCain. They are certainly supplying the Republicans with a priceless amount of free advertising. Clinton’s “red phone” ads raising questions about Obama’s preparedness to be commander in chief, and Obama’s counterattack commercials challenging Clinton’s judgment, are likely to be re-aired by GOP politicos into the fall if she somehow manages to emerge as the nominee. Indeed, one reason for Clinton’s success on Tuesday appeared to be her campaign’s decision to attack Obama’s integrity and honesty—raising questions about his relationship with a Chicago real-estate magnate charged with extortion and his reported waffling over the NAFTA trade pact, as well as his readiness; exit polls showed that late deciders broke decisively for the New York senator.

…Clinton’s… wins (in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode island) made it probable the Democratic battle would go on for some time to come despite Obama’s seemingly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and Clinton’s loss in Vermont on Tuesday.

from Newsweek, March 5, 2008

“Concern troll” is a term of derision that is applied to people who whiningly post statements of worry or concern on internet forums, without adding anything new or informative or enlightening to a discussion. Some “concern trolls” are pure “trolls”-as described on Wiktionary, they post on internet forums claiming to share the goals of forum members while deliberately working against those goals. They do this by claiming “concern” about group plans to engage in productive activity, urging members instead to attempt some activity that would damage the group’s credibility, or alternatively, to give up on the group’s goals or projects entirely.

The concern trolls were in full force during the Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. As Newsweek observed, the ire raised by the intensity of their fight led many to feel that the winner might be badly damaged in the general election campaign against John McCain.

Well, it looks like the concern trolls were right. A large of part of the media narrative during the Democratic Convention this week has been the dissatisfaction of Hillary supporters. John McCain has actually done a political ad featuring a former Clinton supporter who has gone over to the dark side now claims she will vote for John McCain.

It’s been a public relations mess for the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party.

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Political Musings 6/24/08

One effect of the long, drawn-out Democratic presidential primary was the toll it took on presidential candidate Barack Obama’s financial warchest.

Through the end of May, the Obama campaign raised $287,397,945, and spent $244,250,611. At the end of May, the campaign had $43,147,333 million on hand. This information is available from the excellent web site OpenSecrets.org.

Through the same period, the McCain campaign raised $119,594,596. But because his expenditures were lower-the GOP race was decided long ago-McCain had only spent $83,633,159. He had $35,961,436 million on hand at the end of May.

As noted out by Truthout.Org:

For the first time in the campaign, Republican John McCain in May raised about the same amount of money, $22 million, as Democrat Barack Obama…

Obama spent $27 million in May… $4 million for television ads, $3.3 million for travel, $3 million for direct mail, and nearly another $3 million for phone banking. He spent another $1.7 million on print advertisements and nearly another million dollars on Internet ads.

Meanwhile, McCain spent just $12 million. The Arizona senator dropped about $3.5 million on television ads and spent another $1.4 million on postage. No other spending category for the month of May reached a million dollars.

Having effectively wrapped up his party’s nomination, McCain spent the month focused almost exclusively on replenishing his coffers. His schedule was dominated by money-generating events that helped produce his biggest fundraising month to date.

This is one reason why some folks were hoping Sen Hillary Clinton would concede the Democratic presidential race earlier than she did…

Barack Obama has decided to opt-out of public financing for his general election campaign. This caused John McCain, as the LA Times put it, to have a “hissy fit.”

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Barack Obama, Black, Biracial, Whatever

Question: is Barack Obama black or biracial? And does it matter?

There have been discussions about that all over the Internet, and no doubt in living rooms and business offices across the country.

For many black folks, it’s this simple: if he has a drop of black blood, he’s black. So people just need to acknowledge that and deal with it.

But it isn’t that simple. Being biracial IS a different cultural experience than being black. Adrienne Maree Brown makes the point in COLORLINES magazine’s RaceWire blog:

…I have to just share this temporary moment of swelling heart boom boom because Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, a half-breed, Hafrican, mulatto, black and white cookie, creamed coffee, is-he-is-or-is-he-ain’t, mixed, multi-, biracial, more-than-a-drop, cafe au lait like me is going to be the Democratic nominee for President.

No one will want to remember it that way, it’s too advanced to get into, its big enough that he’s a black man, the black candidate who has been running against the woman candidate in our oversimplified media vomitorium of electoral coverage.

But as a woman who grew up with that special experience of visiting the far reaches of the American experience as represented by the racial spectrum in my veins, as a biracial woman who takes note of all the multicultural straddlers out there leading and supporting movements, I want to take a moment that we rarely get.

Mariah Carey, goddess that she is, isn’t out there forging the path of righteousness for those who are undefining the boundary. Halle Barry wants nothing to do with the gray space. We haven’t had many public figures giving speeches about their mixed heritage, out there publicly applying the unique ability to go beyond temporary bridge-building to the true and evolutionary, fusionistic type of movement building which is a survival mechanism honed at the dinner table for multiracial babies.

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Clinton Campaign’s Heavy Hand May Have Cost It the Nomination

In the wake of Sen Hillary Clinton’s failed bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination, the big question is, how and why did this happen? How did a person who had a huge lead in money, name recognition, and support from the Democratic Party establishment lose to a young, relatively unknown, African American novice?

If you do a Google search on the subject, you’ll find pages and pages of sources, more than you could read in a day, or maybe a week. Most agree on a few things:
• the Clinton campaign showed poor judgment in ignoring small states and caucus states.
• the Clinton campaign was not able to match the Obama campaign’s Internet-based, small donor fund-raising machine.
• Clinton’s vote for the Iraq War hurt her standing among progressives and the anti-war elements of the Democratic Party.
• Barack Obama turned out to be a unique, charismatic competitor.

All of that is probably true. But I think a lot of people are missing an element that was key, although not necessarily decisive: in the end, the superdelegates got tired of being pushed around by the Clintons. And without the support of the superdelegates, the Clintons were doomed.

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