I suppose I should explain why I am backing Obama. I am loathe to admit this, but it has to do a lot more with image than with policy. That’s a change for me. Having seen someone who appears stupid and easily led foul up the presidency over the last seven years, I am encouraged by a candidate who has an unstudied ease in discussing complex issues. I suspect that this reflects an aptitude for leadership, despite the lack of experience. The experience of the front-runner, Clinton, is a detriment in my eyes. It’s hard to know how different a new Clinton administration would be from the previous administration. It’s hard not to see the previous Clinton administration as a shining beacon of American growth sandwiched between a series of failed presidential administrations. And I have little doubt that he was capable of achieving some of this by being good at “politicking”–by being able to compromise and pick battles. I suspect a lot of that is present in Hillary Clinton as well, but it’s not clear to me that the ideals are. It’s hard for me to see any major progress under Clinton: she might be a steady hand, right down the middle, but is it wrong to hope for more than that?
I don’t agree with all of Obama’s policy positions. I like his stance on the war, and on health care. I think his opposition to NAFTA is shortsighted–I think it is real, and not just a play to unions, but I think it is wrong. Unfortunately, it’s a view that is shared by most of the Democratic and many of the Republican candidates. I am fine with his faith, as long as it doesn’t lead to stupid policy, and I think he has provided some reasoning as to why it shouldn’t. I’d like to see something more concrete on education, and on energy, but the current electoral system punishes those who articulate real platforms too early.
My Frankencandidate would include pieces of Kucinich (universal pre-kindergarten, repeal PATRIOT Act, supports same-sex marriage), Gravel (immediate withdrawal from Iraq and disengagement with Iran, willing to look at VAT instead of income tax), and Richardson (stronger diplomatic front, gun ownership–though I would also be OK with a sensible licensing framework).
Of course, the polling institute at my own university suggests that it is not me, but my habitus, who chooses Obama. If I were part of a union rather than a college faculty, my vote would be with Clinton:
Obama may have cornered the market on white-collar contributions, but the Clinton campaign maintains an “air of inevitability,” according to Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“She gets the union members, he gets the college faculty lounges,” Carroll said. “But at this stage of the game, unless something dramatic happens … nothing seems to cut into her domination.”
The “faculty lounges” claim comes, I think, from a Pew study that showed that Obama backers are generally better off financially, more educated, and more enthusiastic about their candidate. I wonder why it skews that way. There isn’t anything (e.g., funding for higher education, tax differences) that clearly skew to the more educated. I suspect, then, that the difference is, like for me, one of style, and the feeling that Obama’s articulation of the issues has more to do with his thinking them through, rather than on calculated and advised political gain.