Monday, May 5, 2008

A stupid viral video and reclaiming the political narrative in 08

Seriously, people. This just makes Obama supporters (myself included) look stupid and childish. This makes Obama supporters look less like well-informed voters and more like idiotic children who like Obama because he looks and sounds swell (gosh, he's every bit as nifty as Luke Skywalker blowing up the Death Star!). Having said that, I wouldn't mind if it were funnier or more clever. Even as humor, it's not creative and basically is the level of parody of Date Movie or Epic Movie ('look - Obama is dressed like Luke Skywalker... that's funny!'). Senator Clinton is a rival Democratic senator who is also running for President. She is not Darth Vader. She's not evil. This is the kind of black and white thinking that got us two terms of Bush Jr (John Kerry is French! George W. Bush is a 'nice guy'). Yes, some of Clinton's campaign tactics have been less than honorable. But that's politics and she should be allowed to attack her opponent to the best of her abilities, especially if she keeps winning primaries.

Having said that, don't mistake my defense of her as approval for her strategy. Her main argument at this point is that she can successfully attack the GOP machine in November and can defend herself from like. Two problems with this - A) She has yet to really prove this, and she would be far more convincing if she had spent the last few months actually battling John McCain as opposed to her Democratic rival (Obama needs to shape up in this area too). B) This again allows the GOP to write the script. Who says that it's the GOP who gets to be on the offensive?

Who says that it's the Democrats who should be afraid of the Republicans? In this election, more so than the last two, it is the Democrats who should create the narrative. After seven years of near complete GOP control and the utter catastrophe that it has brought this nation, the Democrats have no excuse for being on the defensive. It is long past due for Democrats and progressives to reclaim the vocabulary of politics.

We can redefine patriotism as actions that better every citizen rather than empty words of admiration for an abstract. We can redefine morality, so that morals exist also in the boardroom, and the small business, and in the factories, rather than almost exclusively in the bedroom. We can expose the empty 'support the troops' slogan for what it is, as start to really fix our broken armed forces.

We can once again convince Americans that government can and should be a major force for good and for progress. But that's only if we do the job ourselves. And only if we stop seeing the other Democrat across the isle as Darth Vader. Hillary Clinton may not be your preferred Democratic candidate, but she is not your enemy.

Scott Mendelson

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