Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Meaning of 'Hope'

This article Inside the Clinton Shake-Up by Joshua Green is very interesting, particularly when he states:

Rather than punish Solis Doyle or raise questions about her fitness to lead, Clinton chose her to manage the presidential campaign for reasons that should now be obvious: above all, Clinton prizes loyalty and discipline, and Solis Doyle demonstrated both traits, if little else. This suggests to me that for all the emphasis Clinton has placed on executive leadership in this campaign, her own approach is a lot closer to the current president’s than her supporters might like to admit.

If nothing else the campaign that Hillary has waged has raised real questions about her executive ability and the value of her experience. Thsat is not to say she is lacking in either, but neither does she appear to be the 'experienced hand' that she has sought to portray herself.
Rewarding loyal mediocrity, ignoring campaign spending burn rates, choosing the old 'core states' strategy that has lost the Dems so many races over the past 30 years (rather than the 50 state strategy) - none of these inspire me with confidence in her leadership ability in a general election or in the day to day scrum of governing.

I admire her tenacity and spunk, but she and Bill seem to be fighting the last war using the DLC handbook.

We as Democrats have a chance at achieving victory in what could be a realigning election. Unfortunately, given what I have seen this campaign - the over-reliance on projected expectations of 'inevitablity' and the over-valuing of inside the beltway connections - I do not think Hillary would be able to wage the sort of campaign necessary to pull it off.

Such an election would require a greater organizational talent and the ability to motivate not only confirmed Democrats but also to attract others who have never really thought of themselves as Democrats. We as Democrats win when we grow as a party and that is the best way to break the current deadlock in the electoral college, Congress and the nation at large.

Obama's ability to organize in state after state and mobilize Democrat old and new speak to the potential to achieve such a victory. He is winning not because of a 'cult of hope,' but rather because he is able to articulate the vision of a political realignment to ordinary people and convince them that they have the power to make it happen. That is what truly excites me about Obama - his combination of organizational skill, strategic vision and they way he marries them together with inspiring but also very accessible language. He just doesn't ask you to 'hope' - he provides a very visible and effective organization within which you can easily volunteer and work to realize your 'hope.' When he say "yes WE can," he means it in a way that the Hillary campaign simply does not match organizationally.

As a political scientist, I can say that he is the first politician I have know who is able to both organize and communicate effectively around the idea of a realigning election. It is fascinating to watch but also very inspiring. Here's hoping that those who mistake the Obama 'phenomenon' as a fad or salesman's schtick take a deeper look at the hard work and thought that has actually gone into creating this opportunity for us all.