Today I actually get to vote in the Democratic primary. I’ll be voting for Barack Obama.
Let me explain briefly why I’m for Barack. Aside from the fact that his ideas for what we need to do as a country are roughly compatible with my own, it is his philosophy of how to govern that appeals to me. I’ve talked before about the Overton window. The idea is that at any given time, only a certain range of policy options are acceptable to the public. For example, before 9/11, invading Iraq was outside the realm of possibility. After 9/11, the Overton window moved and invading Iraq became acceptable.
A politician has two options. They can restrict their policy proposals to those that are within the Overton window, or they can try to move or expand that window to include the policies they favor. Barack Obama seems committed to communicating directly with the American people to move the Overton window to encompass more progressive values. If he is elected and succeeds in that task, he will change the political landscape in America for a generation. That, in a nutshell, is why I’m voting for him.
Now let me explain why I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton. To be blunt, I feel like that she has run her campaign in such a way as to be unworthy of the Democratic nomination. As the campaign has gone on and on, she has tailored her message further and further to appeal to the basest motives of Americans, and to cash in on sentiments that any decent person should seek to rise above.
In the beginning of her campaign, she ran on a platform of competence and progressive values. When that failed her and she fell behind, she focused more and more on coddling and encouraging the most regressive elements in the Democratic party. To be blunt, there are a lot of people in America who are disinclined to vote for a black man. Hillary Clinton does not encourage them in their bigotry, but of late she has been careful to tailor her message to more strongly appeal to the sorts of people who are already motivated by bigotry.
Last weekend’s display of embarrassing and hypocritical anti-intellectualism was a low moment for her, but was also par for the course for the manner in which her campaign has been run since Obama became the frontrunner. A victory for Hillary Clinton would be a victory for shameless pandering and for all that is small within us. We can do better.