me, on rabble

the editor of rabble.ca posted this commentary of mine on friday, the first of what could be several provided i get things like my ass and creativity in gear. oh, discipline, why so elusive?

Obama shakes the best cocktail

Obama is igniting imaginations, rousing latent electors, and exceeding expectations.

by Pam Kapoor February 8, 2008

In his January column at rabble.ca, Duncan Cameron postulated about Barack Obama's invoking of nationalism, prompting my friend to chide, “Ah ha! I told you he was a right-wing candidate running on a policy of unity and hope [period].” As if the deployment of nationalistic rhetoric is a barometer of ideology and not a deliberate tactic – in this case, an astute one.


Millions of frenzied supporters are lining up for a sip of Obama kool-aid, few of whom have read every word of his every position. But I don't think that makes them stupid, just thirsty (for some, in a way they didn't even know they'd been).

Strategically, the NDP would do well to borrow from this approach. NDP-ers here in Canada are so busy tripping over ourselves to say the perfect thing and appease every strand of our imperfect base, we hardly say it perfectly. We are strategically stunted, stumped, on how to convey, package, or inspirationalize our position that is, in essence, a vision – far simpler than a policy book. The NDP still hasn't figured out how to sell our politics, in part because we insist on abhorring that brand of sales.

The age-old tension seems to be amplified now: remain entrenched in ideology and/or appeal broadly enough to be elected to govern. Some worry Obama's is a watered-down progressivism, designed for palatability. True, he is garnering mass appeal among independents. Shouldn't we revel when middle-of-the-roaders are persuaded to look anew at progressive viewpoints? Obama has what some call the "gall" to self-identify as a "post-partisan" politician. For shame! Why would we bulldogged ideologues ever want to loosen anything from our jaws, even if it could lead to advancement of our political objectives?


I, for one, am relieved to get behind a candidate who shakes the best cocktail of ideological compatibility, electricity, and electability – that's as much the Bush era hater as the communications specialist in me. And the election worker in desperate search of a Canadian politician with even half as much potential.

THE PIECE, in it's entirety = here.


Blogger Kuri said...

You say, on rabble, "Show me a candidate whose books are void of corporate influence and I'll show you a quaint but hopeless campaign. From Left to Right, they all enjoy some level of large donor involvement."

I'm glad you, someone whose worked with the QC NDP find the NDP to be "quaint but hopeless". The NDP's refusal to accept corporate donations and yet still raise a large sum from individuals is one of the reasons I'm proud to be involved in the party and one of the things that motivates me to donate my own time and money to NDP campaigns. And far from being "hopeless", this clean approach to politics has led (directly and indirectly) to some terrific pieces of campaign financing legislation in Manitoba and federally, where corporate and union donations are banned entirely.

I was hoping, at first, that you were limiting this comment to USian campaigns where admittedly, their horribly antiquated electoral system (even worse than FPTP!) means that on Election Day the voter may only choose between centre-right and far-right. But then you say that the NDP should adopt an approach of triangulation with the right based on the success of a candidate who is further right than Stephen Harper (as both Democrat and certainly all Republican candidates are), I have to conclude that you've spent too much time looking at the US scene.

8:07 a.m.  
Blogger Audra Williams said...

I wish Stephen Harper would say something like this:

"In fact, because I do not believe that religious people have a monopoly on morality, I would rather have someone who is grounded in morality and ethics, and who is also secular, affirm their morality and ethics and values without pretending that they're something they're not. They don't need to do that. None of us need to do that."

5:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Kuri said...

Stephen Harper keeps his religion so private that journalists have to connect all kinds of crazy dots to figure out what it is, even! He doesn't need to say anything like that because no one credible in Canada makes a big deal out of their religion in the first place. Stockwell Day was the last one to do that, and it didn't work out very well for him.

7:49 p.m.  
Blogger pamused said...

kuri - it's ok to disagree on obama, but at least one misinterpretation was made. the "quaint but hopeless" reference spoke to US campaigns, not canadian. and it’s absolutely true: we have seen - frustratingly - how far purist candidates can actually get without substantive organizational donors (kucinich, anyone?). to be any sort of contender is to sacrifice some philosophical intentions, otherwise, yes, a non-starter you are. at least obama doesn't take money from lobbyists - even progressive ones - and that's the main conduit of corporate influence into campaigns.

casting all US politicians as centre or far right may be one thing, but to label obama as right-er than harper smacks too much for my taste of a sort of opposition that's about as bandwagony as obama supporters are accused of being. i've closely followed the pros and cons of obama for quite some time now, and even what criticism is founded still isn't enough to warrant that kind of incendiary claim.

an american progressive activist friend of mine recently echoed what i've heard so many respected progressives submit: "no candidate is perfect, and we don't have the luxury of waiting for a savior in presidential politics at this critical point in time. the work goes on whether he gets elected or not, but obama is at least a step in the right (or left) direction."

3:23 a.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home