Further Up, Further In Weblog

Chronicling the Journey of the Homeyers

Si Se Puede February 23, 2008

Filed under: Etc.,Uncategorized — furtherupfurtherin @ 4:50 pm
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Disclaimer:  The comments presented in this post do not constitute a political endorsement.  The comments presented in this post represent no vast expanse of political knowledge.  They are mere observations from a marginally politically invested 27 year old. 

 The rise of Barack Obama as the possibly-soon-to-be Democratic Presidential Candidate has been a fascinating thing to watch.  For a 27 year old, it has been an utterly unique political experience. 

Never in my voting life has there been a candidate that truly has had a charismatic, emotional appeal for any large group.  Some would argue this.  W might have had this appeal for the Religious Right, but I would argue that this appeal certainly wasn’t based on Charisma.  But who else would there by on the national stage?  Howard Dean and his yell in 2004? 

But an emotional fervor seems to surround Obama and his rise (would it be cliche to all it meteoric?  let’s wait for now) as Presidential nominee frontrunner. 

I stumbled onto a good article this week about the “cool factor” of Barack Obama and the almost Messianic status he is given b his followers.  At the rally in Austin last night, while a massive crowd waiting in the cold to hear Obama speak, a band played a song entitled, “Obama-lujah.”  High school students with their chest painted red and blue in support of Obama yelled, “Obama ’08, Get Fired Up!”  And these kids can’t even vote yet.  Where else in the political arena would you see such support? 

Being as I serve and live in central Texas in a fairly conservative area and Church, I have certainly heard the other side of Obamania. 

The most ridiculous I have heard is the oft repeated quote, “A vote for Obama is a vote for Osama.”  Equally far from the point of the matter are the emails that have been widely circulating  that a)  Obama’s Christian faith is an elaborate ruse designed to sneak a man who is actually a fundamentalist (read Militant) Muslim into the Presidency. b)  Obama swore his oath into the Senate with his hand on a Koran (now, this really has nothing to do with his ability to lead and govern, but as a lot of the Pro-Obama hype is meant to spin his supporters, this spins his detractors).  Then there are the more bland negative comments that he is a candidate of smooth words and little substance. 

One friend, who is a staunch Rebublican articulately expressed the “branding” of Obama, and how he has very successfully used his charisma and attraction to “brand” himself.  Coca-Cola, Crayola, Obama.  She discussed some of the ways in which his campaign has employed current advertising and marketing techniques to create appeal based upon emotion rather than quality of product.  She was very compelling.  To this point, Slate.com has created a widget where people can make up quotes using Obama’s name (Ex.  “Barackupied” – Unable to think about any other politician other than Barack) It is hard to imagine Barack’s success if his name were Tom Smith.  Perhaps this is unfair, but I think it’s accurate. 

 Regardless of what you think of Obama, his rise is fascinating.  For a 27 year old, it is incredibly hopeful.  I don’t know how to answer the question of How exactly he plans to change Washington, or what exactly I would hope for him to do differently if he were to be voted into office.  I am not certain if the dangers of a candidates appeal being based largely on charisma outweigh the positives. 

But it is hopeful, that a candidate can speak fluently the language of a generation raised under the polarization of our nation under Clinton and Bush.  It is hopeful to have a candidate whose appeal is larger than the sum total weight of his position on issues.  It is hopeful to see actual political races that are decided by actual voters which will hopefully ensure that more voices are heard by whomever wins. 

Obama was quoted in the Austin American Statesman as saying at a rally in Edinburg,

“what Chávez and King and every other freedom fighter has understood is that there’s a time, there’s a moment in the life of every generation, when that spirit of hope has to come through”

Perhaps this is our time.  Perhaps.

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4 Responses to “Si Se Puede”

  1. Kline Says:

    Well, he has a lot of young people because he admitted to using drugs and booze, so naturally they find him cool. I find it sad.

    I cringe every time that Obama is associated with King, Chavez and Mandela. He has no right, none whatsoever. He’s only a young politician, and a new one at that. Can we keep some kind of perspective? Can we give patriots like Chavez and King their due??? Good Lord!

  2. furtherupfurtherin Says:

    I understand your point concerning King, Chavez, and Mandela. My point was not to compare Obama with these men, but to make the point about a moment in time for a generation where hope for change breaks through.

    I believe your point about young people feeling Obama is “cool” because he has admitted to using drugs and alcohol is absolutely ridiculous. Life is not a teenage movie and young voters are not teenage cliches.

  3. Matt,

    As always, I appreciate your insight. Coming from a person who devotes herself to “taping” Meet the Press and This Week every Sunday morning, it should be no surprise that I have been engaged for a long time in the political process.

    Although there are not-so-subtle critiques of Obama’s lack of “substance,” I have found that many of my friends – formerly Republican friends – have been inspired by Senator Obama’s plans as well as his rhetoric. The candidates are nearly inseparable when it comes to issues other than their healthcare plan – however, I have found that Senator Obama has captivated me from the onset of his more visible career at the National Democratic Convention.

    It is his perspective that is captivating to me – not simply this idea of utopic unity – but rather, his notion that there is improvement that is possible within our country and within the global sphere. Senator Obama, rather than asserting that he – an individual – has all of the answers and will solve all problems, I’ve found that he, instead, equips his constituents in that journey. In other words, he organizes from a strengths based perspective rather than focusing on the pathology of the country. He seeks to utilize the strengths, gifts, etc. of American citizens to address the ills of the society – and does so in a way that yes, is inspiring… and calls us to act.

    It has been disturbing to me to see so many people attack him for being a passionate, inspiring, articulate speaker as they assume that you can’t be both eloquent AND competent.

    Those are my 2 cents (or maybe… 4 cents). Thanks for putting yourself out there and making some great observations. Very diplomatic. Perhaps our time is now. I’d like to believe that it is.

    In response to the other comment, I must say that I do greatly disagree and I must remind you that our current president was an alcoholic and a frequent drug user. Young people do not believe that constitutes any sort of “cool.”

  4. Karl Says:

    Matt,

    I have to start this by saying I have enormous respect for you, your maturity and your insights. Surely you know this by now but I felt it merited reiteration at the onset of my thoughts here that your blog invoked.

    From my observations, presidential elections are enormously complex. One simple overwhelming factor though throughout the history of this great country seems to have many times been charisma. Barack Obama has it in bucket loads, so did Clinton (Bill), so did Reagan, so did Kennedy; and not so much the ones in-between. Not to diminish or embellish the stature, presence or accomplishments of these or other presidents in this period, in my opinion these special candidates were virtually unbeatable because of their unique ability to stir emotions and identify with the hope of the human spirit.

    What I find incredibly fascinating is how seemingly intelligent, educated and well meaning folks will rally behind a candidate and their ideals with passion and zeal while other equally intelligent, educated and well meaning folks will fervently oppose the same and their ideals as certain doom for the nation and our way of life.

    I don’t believe for a moment that any more than an insignificant number of misguided individuals would vote for Obama because they think it is cool that he once used drugs of some sort. As sad as it is that there is anyone that could fall into this line of thinking, I don’t believe the few that would can make a pittance of a difference in the presidential election. Obama clearly does have the cool factor going on and it has nothing to do with drugs. At the same time, those trying to marginalize him from both inside the Clinton campaign and otherwise with ethnic innuendos, accusations of no substance or trying to insinuate he has some kinship with radical Muslims are misguided if they believe those tactics will dissuade many if any real voters. To the contrary, I believe the backlash from those foolish and irrational attacks will more than make up the difference. I do believe however, that it is dangerous to assume there is positive substance behind an unclear and vague message of hope delivered with oodles charisma and charm that is clearly meant to play on our desire for hope. Make no mistake about it, Obama is scary good at delivering this message of hope; very Reaganesque but without the substance. I am not saying the man has no substance, I believe he does; it is his vague message of hope where I see no substance; Regan’s had plenty. Maybe it’s there and I just don’t see it, maybe it’s just me.

    This said, I am looking forward to the lifting of the veil on Obama’s voting record and his real position on issues once this gets down and dirty in the general election, so that we can truly see the substance, ideals and convictions of the man behind the curtain, so that we might get a better understanding of exactly where he stands and where he hopes to take us.

    My hope and my prayer, is that we will collectively elect a president that will put the security and wellbeing of our country and its citizens ahead of political ambitions and the “party line”; who will have the strength and resolve to stand up for right over wrong and good over evil; who will call on us and lead us to individual self-reliance and self-perseverance and away from the self destructive state that comes from dependence on communal coffers. I think we have to ask ourselves: Si se puede que?


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