Friday, September 28, 2007

A Rare Friday Night Post

And on politics, no less...

So, I've not commented on it, but the pundit class seems eager to anoint Hillary and ready to pen the epitaphs for the rest of the candidates in the Democratic presidential race.

Andrew Sullivan wonders, though, which other candidate is able to turn out a crowd (possibly 20,000 or more) a year before the election?

The typical rejoinder is that events like this, spectacles in their own right, with wide cross sections of the population (check the comments at this post from the Caucus blog here for observations from event attendees) aren't doing anything to move Obama's poll numbers. Like Sullivan, I think what people don't get is that this DOES mean something. The "conventional wisdom" thinks that this groundswell won't turn into votes, but I'm not so sure. This is a change election in a lot of ways. I'll go on record now and say that, absent some 9/11 level event, the Democrats will probably win the White House. Having said that, Matt Yglesias makes a point about Hillary (and her inner circle) that I think a lot of people are overlooking:

One of the things that worries me about the prospect of Mark Penn once again becoming king of the political hill is that his approach to politics seems antithetical to this concept of mass engagement. Instead, it's a model where you break the population down into the smallest possible groups, and assemble a winning coalition of stitched-together wedges of people each engaged through their own micro-initiative. That's not all there is to Hillary Clinton or to the broader case of Clinton-style centrism. Indeed, it's quite different from (in some ways the reverse of) the initial critique of interest-group liberalism with which the DLC launched itself. And in the best moments of her campaign -- the health care plan, the day care plan -- Clinton has completely gone beyond the inane politics of "are archery moms the new soccer moms?" but all that's been in no small part responsive to the new new politics of John Edwards, Andy Stern, and Barack Obama.

I think that a lot of people, in reality, don't WANT the kind of politics that Hillary represents anymore. It's clear that, despite her negatives, Hillary also has some very strong factors in her favor (name recognition, a history of being a competent senator from an important state, and that guy named Bill) that are adding to her invincibility myth. But, to me, this ignores the fact that people are tired of combative, polarized politics, which is exactly what Hillary's election would ensure. Obama's campaign is stirring something in young people that we as a nation need to be able to harness to shape a better future.

Update: Oliver Willis touches on the importance of the youth vote to Obama's campaign.

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