Thursday, August 28, 2008
Barack Obama: Where Does He Go From Here?
image credit: Reuters
Barack Obama just finished up his nomination acceptance speech a couple minutes ago.
What struck me about the speech was that it wasn't about politics and it wasn't about policy. The speech, even though it did contain politics and policies, was one of ideology. Sen. Obama made repeated references to the "promise of America" and compared his campaign to just about every hard-hitter in history (e.g. Martin Luther King, Jr., women's suffrage). He emphasized change driven not only by people but also by communities, contrasting himself with Sen. John McCain, whom Sen. Obama described as out of touch with the common U.S. citizen.
But with Sen. McCain's VP pick to be announced Friday, I think it's unlikely that Sen. Obama will be able to ride the wave of popularity his speech will generate for very long. Both candidates have been their party's presumptive nominees for quite some time now, so the convention does not really represent a turning point in the election. But now, with only two full months remaining until Election Day, there is a strong incentive for both parties to turn on the pressure. This is a very politically charged election, not only because it is the first time an African-American man has had a genuine chance at being elected, but because the campaign has been drawing on the controversial events of the past eight years. In his speech, Sen. Obama specifically cited President Bush's "failed policies", which ought to appeal to critics of the current administration's policies.
So where does Sen. Obama go from here? Despite the close race, I think that Sen. Obama has a fairly broad appeal. At last year's Hebron Harvest Fair, I saw a man walk up to the Hebron Democratic Town Comittee booth and request a form to change his voter affiliation from Republican to Democrat. His reason? He was tired of the Republican party making choices he didn't agree with and wanted to get out in time for the election. While that can't account for a whole lot of Sen. Obama's support, and I'm sure it happens in Sen. McCain's favor as well, it indicates to me that party loyalty is not playing a huge factor in the election. I guess we'll see how that turns out in November.
Despite some harsh remarks the candidates have made about each other's stances (in the speech, Sen. Obama said, "If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have."), they have each made conciliatory gestures. Also during the speech, Sen. Obama praised Sen. McCain by saying,
"The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect... The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain."
Sen. McCain's campaign aired a commercial before and after the speech, in which Sen. McCain directly adressed his opponent, saying,
"Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America. Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say, congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow, we'll be back at it. But tonight Senator, job well done."
Posted by Brian F. at 10:59 PM