September 27, 2008

Will it always depend on the stars for the dems?

Filed under: Politics — Bottom's Up @ 2:37 am
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Life was bad for Barack Obama. Sarah Palin was the latest offshoot of America’s obsession with celebrity and had quickly bumped Mr Obama off the covers of Time and Newsweek as he duly observed on Letterman. Then fortunes changed and America’s misery became his godsend. Thus for the last one week, it has been rise rise and more rise on the polls for him. The impressive Nate Silver on 538 gives him a very sound chance of winning now.  All said and done, and as long as Russia does not sell some nukes to Iran while Chavez and Raul hold a carnival on the waves of the next big hurricane in the gulf in the next few days, chances are that the dems may actually win, $700billion or not. We’ll see how the dollar does when we get there but a pint would be a nice celebration on the 4th. Or he may not and we will drink to forget the pain while anticipating four years of funny faux pas a la Mr Bush by Ms Palin.

However let’s look at how we will get there. In a year when by all benchmarks, the democrats should win easily, they’ll barely win. Or not. The popular vote would be very close to 50%. Isn’t this the year of the democrats when America’s standing in the world is probably as low as it has ever got, the economy at home is terrible (to use a mild term), the war and everything the republican establishment has been a debacle and a lot of corruption and mismanagement dogs the GOP. Instead, we have a crazily close race. Granted that McCain’s biography makes for impressive candidacy. Granted that there may be some of the Bradley Effect on show. Granted that the women vote is a little chaotic thanks to the Clinton tussle. Granted Obama’s experience runs a little thin. But this should still be the year of the democrat and none of this should matter enough. Especially if there is a solid base. And that is the big if.

Starting with Nixon’s astute observations of the silent majority and the honing of this idea to perfection over the years, Republican strategy has rested on the three pillars of social conservatism and religion, fiscal conservatism and hawkish foreign policy. The democrats on the other hand provide a socially liberal agenda and economic equality on their menu. The republican base is thus defined by either folks who are very religious, reasonably rich or the military types. The democrats offer little to the military hawks if that’s all they care about. The rich again care about their money most, they can always fly to Europe for their next abortion. Neither of these is that large in numbers. That leaves the folks who form the silent majority – most of these are either the rural libertarian types characterized by the south and the midwest or the lower middle class characterized by union workers.Both these groups tend to be less affluent and highly religious. However, the rural folks tend to do their own thing and many times do not care much or need much of the government. They tend to form a solid base for the republicans. On the other hand, the dems cater to the union types. Unfortunately for them, while their socialist ideas do appeal to this crowd, their socially liberal agenda does not appeal to the religious sensibilities of these voters. Thus instead of having a solid base among these voters, we have a case where these voters relate to some values from the democrats and some from the republicans, forming a good swing vote for the democrats to lose and the republicans to win. Thus in a year when things are going well for the GOP, there is no way they can lose. In years when things are not so great such as 2004 and now, they can still put up a darn good fight and maybe even win.

This problem simply arises because the vote bank the liberals cater too is just not that solid. To the poor and less educated, liberal ideals just do not appeal as much. Nor do environmental concerns and such. While the dems are dogged by other issues and the perception of condescending city boys, the primary reason I think is just this. The dems need to cater thei union base and make it stronger. Opposing everything that the GOP promotes is not the way to go. Compromises can be made on smaller things so that the essence of their big issue values still remains. Thus the democrats can go easier on say gun rights – allow guns while setting up programs for better training. Reach an agreement on gay rights so that they get similar privileges without giving it the exact same status as marriage. This would still be a step forward. Talk tough on foreign policy, the GOP does not do more than that either. The key is compromise. A combination of populist economic policies along with a not so far left social agneda will serve them much much better. Thus Nancy Pelosi must go. Also, use the four years in between to drive home these messages. Do a rebranding of the party – air commercials during non-election periods highlighting their makeover. Only then would we see a lot more blue states on the map instead of purple. But then, maybe I would be more red than purple by then.


June 8, 2008

Hold that trigger yet, Mr. Obama

Filed under: Politics — Bottom's Up @ 9:03 pm

Its been less than a week since the Barack Obama clinched the democratic party’s nomination for the 2008 Presidential elections. And its been a little over a day since Hillary Clinton did a better job at concession than she did the first time. However, the old media, the new media and the blogospehere alike are already abuzz with whether there should be an Obama-Clinton ticket. The crux of the arguments in favor of this are two

  1. Exit polls suggest that at least 10% of Clinton supporters would not want to support Obama – be it because they do not like Obama for various reasons (Obama it too left wing, Obama is too inexperienced or Rev. Wright) or for the simple reason that they feel that Clinton has not been treated fairly (Michigan, Florida, sexism, media bias, etc) and blame the Obama camp for this.
  2. Obama cannot win over the blue collar votes that Clinton can.

Now all these are very valid reasons and have some element of truth to them. However, I believe it is a little too early for the Obama camp to make any decisions.

For the argument that Clinton supporters wont support Obama – yes, some of those wont. However, would these be close to a million that is being thrown around. Right now it is too soon after Clinton’s concession and the emotions are running high for those Clinton supporters who would say they would not support Obama because Clinton was given an unfair hand. Given a few days, these die hards will get back to their lives, sip some margaritas and start looking at their alternatives – John McCain, Bob Barr or maybe just maybe Ralph Nader. They will start comparing policy notes for Clinton and Obama and see that there is hardly any difference. Good chance that a bulk of these would return to the Obama camp.

As for the blue collars, now Obama will be differentiating himself not from someone with the same policies as him, but someone like John McCain with his free market approach to health care, his lack of inroads with the Unions and his reduced capital gains tax (a policy which this writer believes may have some merit). Also, Obama has shown more than once – though not always – that he does have a better chance with people once they have seen more of him and now he is not jumping from one primary to another and has time on his hands. Thus, he has a good chance to make inroads with the blue collars that so far have eluded him in some states. To add to this argument, there is the constituency that would never vote for him for the simple reason that he is not white. This is however a constituency that would not vote for him even if Clinton moved heaven and earth while campaigning for him. The same would be true for those who would not vote for Obama because they cannot relate to his policies, etc and Clinton being on the ticket can affect this only marginally.

Another complication that Clinton has created is that she has openly expressed her desire to be VP and the Clinton supporters are exerting pressure on Obama to accept her on the ticket. An Obama decision to get her on the ticket would make him look weak and easily pressured, something a future president must avoid at all costs.

So what should the Obama camp do at this point in time when it comes to the VP decision? I say – nothing of consequence. They should wait till emotions subside and then do some surveys/look at polls to figure out how strong the anti Obama sentiment remains in the die hard Clinton camp. In the meantime, they should come up with an aggressive strategy to win over the blue collars. This would also give the Clinton camp and Hillary in particular to hit the trail in support for Obama and aggressively campaign for him. Thus if later Obama does in fact offer the VPhood to Clinton, he wont come across as succumbing to pressure and instead rewarding her/making a sound political choice. The time will also help them evaluate how effective Clinton is in bringing her blue collar base over to Obama.

Till then there is plenty of work they can do to highlight some of McCains weaknesses and shattering his infallible foreign policy credentials delusions.

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