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The politics of hope

Jason has a blogpost up this AM where he basically can’t understand the appeal of Barack Obama to a sizable portion of the voters in the Democratic primaries, and he dismisses Obama as a person with little or no achievements, who is winning votes because he’s charismatic. He further states that we’d “never” elect the equivalent of Obama here in Canada.

I’ll try to answer some of Jason’s puzzlement. I believe people are drawn to Obama because they view him as being someone different, someone new, and that offers them excitement and hope (the fact that he is a great orator about those themes obviously helps too). For example, look at how much of the youth vote he is making excited enough to want to come out and vote. I’d LOVE a candidate like that in Canada who could inspire the normally apathetic 18-29 year old demographic to care about their democratic right and visit the ballot box. Sure, he has no “experience”, but perhaps people want someone with no baggage. I think Jason dismisses his appeal and him far too easily.

And, final point, we’ve ALREADY elected the Canadian equivalent of Barack Obama, a man with charisma and powerful oratory, as well as little experience in politics when he was chosen leader and eventually PM. His name was Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

UPDATE: Just a little further response to Jason from his comments section – talking tough to a bunch of premiers at one premiers conference doesn’t somehow give Trudeau more experience then Obama. I think we can all tell who Jason is rooting for.


21 comments to The politics of hope

  • Well, despite the clarification, the best financed campaigns don’t always win.

    I guess the clarification wasn’t clear enough. I don’t think anyone ever suggested that the best financed campaign would be a winner. Again, the point was that the ability to raise funds is an indication of supportnot a predictor of success.

    Lately, Obama has been able to raise money more easily that Clinton. Hillary just announced yesterday that she had invested $35 million of her own money into her campaign. That shows that she, like Romney, have deep pockets. It doesn’t guarantee success or indicate strong support. Romney’s biggest single campaign contributor is Romney. Hillary’s biggest single campaign contributor is Hillary.

    US presidential campaigns do require mega money to win, though. McCain nearly dropped out last year due to a lack of funds. If he’d not borrowed heavily, he would not still be in the race. Money may not win (I agree it doesn’t) but without tens of millions per month, a candidate may as well throw in the towel.


  • Joseph Angolano

    How do those MSNBC numbers jive with the CNN numbers? They are nowhere near each other. I was using CNN numbers when I said that Hillary is ahead. And indeed, in the CNN numbers, she is ahead. They count superdelegates, but if you take them away from the CNN numbers, the numbers still don’t jive. That’s a methodology question.

    As for this race, I just call it as I see it and looking at this coldly and rationally. A 50-50 split with the rest of the states is no good for Obama, since Hillary does lead in the superdelegate count (and in the CNN count, but leave that aside). If he takes both Virginia and Maryland (and it can happen), I will change my tune. And he still needs McCain to lock up the Republican nomination. He needs those independents. That is what Obama needs to do to win. Some spin for Hillary.

    "You might state that super-delegates aren’t counted in that, but I highly doubt unelected delegates are going to override the choice of the electorate if it ends up Obama has more regular delegates at the Convention"

    Complain as you should, but that is what superdelegates are there for in the Democratic race. So many of them, unlike the Republicans, were created by the Democratic Party so to override a popular decision (i.e., Jimmy Carter, who the Democratic greybeards detested).  I doubt very much that they will bow to popular decision as you imply. They will vote as their conscience dictates and do what they think is best for the party. They could well think that Obama is best for the party. We do not know yet.

    Well, despite the clarification, the best financed campaigns don’t always win. The MMP vote is probably the best example out there, and it just so happens that it was a debate that you and I were on opposing sides. Who knew that it would be such a raw nerve for you. If you don’t like me mentioning MMP, I’ll give you two examples that you might like a bit more. If the campaign that has more money wins, then the Charlottetown Accord should have passed, and John Tory should be the current premier of Ontario. Two more examples that might not get you so upset.

  • Joseph:

    You should work for the Hillary campaign. Even they couldn’t put any better spin then what you have on it.

    Let’s review.. Obama’s campaign said that if they were within 100 delegates of Hillary after last night’s results, they’d be happy. This is again, after trailing in national polls – in some by double digits – in the past month.

    Now look at the delegate count after last night:

    Obama 838
    Hillary 834

    That doesn’t look like Obama is behind to me, Joseph. I’d say he had a major victory last night, actually pulling in front of Hillary, albeit slightly. You might state that super-delegates aren’t counted in that, but I highly doubt unelected delegates are going to override the choice of the electorate if it ends up Obama has more regular delegates at the Convention. The fact is.. he’s gotten more elected delegates then she – which is huge for him and a big downer for HIllary, considering what the polling was.

    Furthermore… in the states coming up, I see many observers who think Obama has a very good chance of winning the majority of those states… so I’m sorry Joseph, but I have to disagree with you. The person in slight trouble is Hillary, not Obama.

    And try not to descend to making cheapshots over the MMP campaign if you can help it.. I can certainly start up that debate if you like, but its beneath you to be doing that on a thread that has nothing to do with it (thanks to Jimbobby for clarifying for me what I meant)

  • Moreover, you know perfectly well that more money doesn’t mean a lick of difference in winning a campaign.

    I think Scott was referring more to the amount raised as an indication of support. Romney is using his own personal fortune to finance his campaign.


  • Jenny

    The simple answer is : Jason is an idiot. The canadian people have elected charismatic persons who didn’t come from the establishment in the past, and will do so again in the future. Jason’s rhetoric is condusive with his past  support of the Ol’ Boys Club.

    And who cares what Jason thinks? Noone in America, that’s for sure! And thank goodness!

  • Joseph Angolano

    First off, I don’t much like Hillary Clinton, but I don’t consider myself pro-Obama either.

    Scott, here’s how Obama is in a bit of trouble (just a bit),

    The perfect storm scenario for him didn’t happen last night. How?
    1) He won less delegates than Hillary last night. The numbers don’t lie.
    2) …is related to 1) , while he did win more states last night, he didn’t take the wind out of Hillary’s sails. He needed Mass., New Mexico, and Calif. to pull that off. Getting Calif. was not really in the cards, but losing Mass. with Kerry and Ted Kennedy on Obama’s side hurt. Bad.
    1) John McCain didn’t seal the nomination last night. McCain and Obama are very popular with independents. In those open primaries, Obama needs all those independents he can get to beat Hillary. If those independents are instead going to McCain, those are votes lost for Obama. The sooner McCain locks it up, the better it will be for Obama.

    Obama is behind Clinton. He has to outpace a very established candidate to win. If the rest of the delegates split 50-50, Hillary snags the nomination. She is in the lead, like it or not. Obama has to come from behind.

    Moreover, you know perfectly well that more money doesn’t mean a lick of difference in winning a campaign. If the better financed campaigns always win, then Romney should have done a LOT better than he did last night. The real story last night was Mike Huckabee’s performance with very limited resources. And of course, if better financed campaigns always win, then MMP would be Ontario’s electoral system right now. :).

    That’s the joy of democracy – the people, in the end, decide.

  • Whooee! Too much hate talk in here, sez I. I ain’t heard anybody sayin’, "You must hate Hillary on accounta I told you so."

    As far as "hope" goes, it’s a nice ideal. Without hope, we’re hopeless. We need hope, if we want to progress and survive.

    My big issue is the environment, climate change: green stuff. Green stuff is a big issue fer Canajuns. It sits at either Number 1 or Number 2 on the Canajun voters’ priority list. I seen a list of the Merkans’ top 5 issues the other day on the TV news. #1. Economy, #2. Terrorism, #3 Iraq war. I can’t remember the other 2 but ol’ Mother Earth weren’t even on their list.

    Obama ain’t any great champion of green issues. Hillary, neither. McCain, neither.

    I got hope, though. I hope when Obama becomes president, he’ll have access to all the science GWB’s been coverin’ up and he’ll realize what a mess the planet’s in.


  • The funniest part, the "what has he done with his life" line.  The guy was an absolutely brilliant lawyer, who did a great deal of community work, instead of trying to get rich.  Obama had a very distinguished tenure in the state legislature, and as for the Senate, everyone knows that you don’t just show up and start penning all kinds of legislation (BTW, what are Hillary’s signature legislative pieces for all the "experience)..    Obama is inspirational, that means something, that a fundamental for leadership.  Why people knock that is beyond me.  I prefer to look at it this way, there are two great candidates for the Dems this time around, better than 2004, better than 2000, in some ways better than Bill himself.  It’s a great process, both have their strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Lets get one thing straight.  Trudeau  was no intellectual .   Quick of wit, well poised and full of charisma and himself yes.  But an intellectual no.  As for  Obama the comparison is therefore quite apt.  But unlike Trudeau Mr. Obama is 100% bought and paid for.  He will make no attempt to strike out on his own and really shake up the American political system or even the moribund status of progressive politics in the US.   In fact the best comparison would be with Bill Clinton.  You remember that last great hope of progressives in the US who managed to finally kill off the last institutions of FDR’s  great society .

    There is some Irony watching the democrats shuffle around and complain that the fiscal stimulus package does not boost food stamps for the poor when it was they and Bill who brought in the single biggest cut to federal welfare  and food stamps. 

    It would be nice if when we had these discussions of who was who and what was what that we managed to have a memory that stretched a little bit further then the last 12 weeks.

  • >>People hate Hillary because they’ ve been told to<<

    Who told them to? Seriously? I hate Hillary Clinton because she’s a political opportunist of the highest order and her marriage to "Mr. Cigar Tube" has to be one purely of political convenience because it gets her name out there. Moreover, I hate her (I hate Bush too) because there’s been a Clinton or a Bush in the White House since I was twenty one (I’m forty now). It’s time for a change. Go Obama!

  • slg

    I’m going to get attacked here – but the youth are very much into a sort of hero-worship.  Historically, the youth get excited at candidate time but do not vote in a general election.  The one reason that came up when discussing this in the US is they want online voting.  They don’t want to make the effort to spend a little time going to a voting booth.

    When Obama spoke last night, he went on and on and on and on and my husband said put it on mute – I can’t listen to the lecture/sermon churchy like stuff anymore.  Do you know what "We Can Do It" came from?  It came from Tony Robbins, the motivational speaker who’s made mega bucks doing motivational speaking and CD’s/Videos.

    I find it interesting that Obama is getting black votes , youth votes and votes of the "wealthy" and Hillary is getting some blacks, women and "blue collar" votes.

    People hate Hillary because they’ ve been told to – much like the Harper strategy (Republican) –  say it over and over again until it’s perceived to be the truth.

    Seems to me that if  it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.


  • Joseph Angolano said:
    [quote comment="13263"]I’ve left a comment on Jason’s post today. Firstly, I don’t think one can dismiss Obama’s appeal in such an offhand manner. The psychological boost that he is giving Americans can’t be discounted. His style of appeal is extremely valuable and can win elections. He is in a bit of trouble right now though. [/quote]

    This is going slightly offtopic, but I’m curious how Obama is in "a bit of trouble", Joseph.  He was way behind in national polls a couple of weeks ago, and last night after all is said and done, he battled Hillary to a draw/split in delegates – I don’t see how that’s being in trouble.

    Furthermore, when Obama raises 32 million last month, and Hillary only 13 million, in a country that needs you to raise a lot of money to win – I’d be tempted to say it’s the other way around, though I’d never underestimate Hillary Clinton.

  • Whooee! Jason clearly demonstrates what’s wrong with politics-as-usual. While he says a few positive things about his favourite candidate, he mainly posts a negative piece about her opponent. As many people have pointed out, Obama has similar experience to others who have been elected president.

    Mudslinging is a dangerous game — especially, at this stage. I’m fairly sure Jason would rather see a Democrat elected than John McCain. With all his negativity, he plays right into the hands of the Repugs. Should Obama get the nomination, Jason’s hatchet job will make it difficult for him to credibly push for Obama’s election. Oh yeah… he doesn’t worry much about selling his own candidate. It’s so much easier to smear the other guy.


  • Joseph Angolano

    I’ve left a comment on Jason’s post today. Firstly, I don’t think one can dismiss Obama’s appeal in such an offhand manner. The psychological boost that he is giving Americans can’t be discounted. His style of appeal is extremely valuable and can win elections. He is in a bit of trouble right now though.

    While I do think there are some parallels between Obama and Trudeau, we do have to be careful with what we say. Obama does have more years under his belt now as an elected official than Trudeau did in 1968. I also think that Obama is the closest thing to Trudeau that the Americans have produced. But, Trudeau had a lot more intelligence and a lot of charisma than Barack Obama does now.

  • mushroom

    I don’t think we want too many comparisons between Canada and US politics, Scott.  Especially you being an avid proponent of proportional representation 😉

    We need more consensus builders and less top-down leaders.  More Stephane Dions and Lizzie Mays, please.  I am serious.  Both of them struggle in the adversarial US style of politics Canadians are brainwashed into.  In a European context, they would be more than capable world leaders.
    I wrote in a previous blogpost on Obama and authenticity.  The link is here

    We need more authentic politicians, instead of ones who thrive on attack ads and use the politics of fear.    

  • Right on Scott. Though I wouldn’t say he has "no experience" – in terms of elected politics, over a decade between the state and federal Senate. Plus, it is a bit of a fallacy of backroom political-types to make the assumption that experience in politics is the only experience that is relevant to seeking higher office.

  • You had me nodding my head in heartfelt agreement until you compared Obama to Trudeau. My recollection of Trudeau is of a intellectually brilliant man who gave Canadians the finger one day on a train. He is not loved by anyone in Western Canada and I suspect a great many voters over forty hate the guy with a passion. I sure do. (And I have voted Liberal in the past.) Trudeau never once peddled hope and he never once gave Canadians the kind of vision that you can easily wrap your head around. He excited Canadians ONCE during his first election amid Trudeaumania but it never sustained itself.

    Cherniak is dead wrong and most of his blog posting is insulting to anyone who wants to believe that change can happen and that hope is a virtue worth fighting for. (Oh and I suspect Cherniak was likely eight years old when the first Bush was in the White House. There’s been a Bush or a Clinton there ever since.) Hope combined with a deep desire for change is inspiring and life affirming. I hope Obama wins and wins big. I just wish we had a Canadian equivelent.

  • DR

    Cherniak is an establishment man, no surprise he likes Hillary.  Apparently failing to fix american health care and being a policatal windvane senator has merit.  weird

    Trudeau was a well known minister of justice "State has no place in the bedrooms of the nation" before he was leader.  Obama – not so much.

  • KC

    Im still trying to figure out where this "experience" advantage that Clinton claims to have comes for.   For all her "experience" she didn’t have the foresight in 2002-2003 to realize that Iraq was the wrong war. 

  • I think Trudeau and Obama are the worst comparison. Trudeau was much more than just a lawyer. Obama comes across as just too phony to me. What has he done in the senate? Use his title to campaign for president? Trudeau did some great work as Minister of Justice, nuff said…

  • Some of us still believe in a little town called Hope…

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