Monday, November 3, 2008

If Obama Wins, Five Ways Republicans Helped Him

Posted By on Mon, Nov 3, 2008 at 9:51 AM

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If Obama wins on Tuesday here are five reasons why it will have happened. [1] Association. One of McCain’s dominant themes has been guilt by association, linking Obama in voters’ minds to unsavory characters in his peripheral past. The conventional wisdom is that these tactics underperformed because a bad economy concentrates the voter mind. But they also didn’t work because voters know two things: they know we all have loose ties with people who could come back to haunt us under this kind of scrutiny, and they know desperation when they see it. [2] Obsession. Think ACORN and voter registration. Sure, ACORN may be management-challenged and in need of some organizational repair, but in a country where the basic system of casting a vote is fundamentally defective and where actual documented voter fraud is minimal to non-existent, Republicans haven’t figured out that there’s no percentage in the view that it’s too easy to cast and count a vote in this country. [3] Condescension. The right seems blind to the possibility that conservatism is losing the war for hearts and minds of young voters. Noting a report that college newspaper endorsements were running 63 to 1 for Obama, Jonah Goldberg at the National Review sneered, “I'm sure it's because all these kids are such fierce and fresh thinkers.” Yes, Repubs, the kids are all idiots. Keep telling them--and yourself--that. [4] Hyperbole. On Meet the Press yesterday Fred Thompson said Obama “will take this country down a road toward a liberal welfare state, European-style policy like we've never seen before.” This is actually a pretty mild version of the extremist brush with which McCain and his surrogates have tried to paint Obama, and few are buying it. The “socialist” rant may resonate with some segments of the undereducated undecided electorate, but McCain’s campaign seemed not to get that framing your opponent’s approach to the failed policies of your own party as different actually tends to work against you rather than for you. [5] Xenophobia. McCain’s campaign was at its ugliest when tagging Obama as somehow ‘different’—unpatriotic and out of touch with core American values, working by and for people who are somehow less patriotic than “real” Americans. An Obama victory will be evidence that these thinly veiled appeals to racism and xenophobia didn’t fly much beyond the core conservative base. It remains to be seen if Republicans will then be prepared to rethink nativism and anti-intellectualism as core tenets of their party’s civic religion. And I haven’t even mentioned the Palin pick, which a McCain loss could enshrine as the single biggest dumbshit move in modern political history. So will Obama win tomorrow? I'm not going there, but there’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing an Obama victory coupled with a McCain edge in the popular vote. Such a party reversal of the 2000 outcome might finally generate the mass bipartisan movement we need to throw the inane and archaic Electoral College into the dustbin of history. Now that, sports fans, would be change we can believe in.

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