Political Realities

>> Sunday, August 31, 2008

If there was ever a more cynical phrase used in politics i am not sure what it was. The idea of Political Realities is constructed entirely on "Conventional Wisdom". A political reality is something that the pundits and commentators just cannot imagine is untrue. Gather together their basic assumptions about the way politics works and how candidates act and you get "Political Reality". The biggest problem is that there really are not any "political realities" in the sense that the traditional media use them. Take this article for example, Political Realities May Pose a Test to Obama’s Appeal to Young Voters . It deals with one of the most basic premise of elections. Candidates start closer to the base and move to the center.

The thing about political realities is that they are all theories. They are based on human observation, human experiences. One of these theories is called the "spacial model of elections". The spacial model deals with rational choice theory. Voters have two policy options on a spectrum. The one closest to their own position is who they vote for. This is a very simple model designed to help people get a handle on where the parties stand. Here is a visual.


The problem is that this is way too simple. Imagine the thousands of different issues that people can have an opinion on. What defines where the middle is on these issues? What is a liberal position versus a conservative position on nuclear proliferation? The way the distribution of voters is always talked about people must assume that there is this fat lump of people in the middle to target. This is just not the case. Most people have picked a side. The middle is full of people who are not really sure what to think. They dont have a developed ideology, that's why they are in the center. So why would candidates move to these non informed voters? This though is the perceived "political reality".

Remember that article i linked to at the beginning? It is all about how the young people will be dissatisfied and give up hope when Obama does the inevitable and moves to the "center".

Mr. Meek, a co-chairman of a Democratic group working with young voters, said this subset of the electorate would be especially attuned to shifts in policy, even subtle ones, made by Mr. Obama.

“He’s going to have to master the art of being able to keep individuals motivated,” Mr. Meek said, “so that they don’t feel heartbroken because something they were told during the primary phase is something that he’s going to have to take a different position on in the general election.”

Is Obama really going to do this? When this "political reality" is talked about i always wonder why the candidate has to give up on his position that is well reasoned and based in reality to pander to people uninterested in the facts. When the pundits say center what they mean is "position polls well". It is one of the things that drags down our country, the idea that we need to move to the center. Stake out the correct policies in the primaries and go with them. Convince people your ideas and policies are the correct ones.

In many ways Obama sees things as i do. His acceptance speech was a renewed restatement of liberal values. in it he talked not about moving off his positions but finding common ground where the opposing sides could work together. This means he is not abandoning his primary positions for more popular ones in the general election. It is my opinion that we should not reward candidates who sell out and pander to those without an opinion. The challenges we face are serious and we need serious people to solve them. Those who are willing to jettison their beliefs for a few more votes are not the people we need.

Obama is going to take his ideas and his policies to the people. He will go door to door if he has to but he is going to convince the people he is right and that he is in earnest. People are tired of the cynical "political realities" where candidates do things not out of conviction but based on a poll. If Obama is able to do this then it shatters the idea of the "political reality". It would not be the first time he has done this. Think back to the primary when the reality was that Obama would be unable to compete with the Clinton Machine or that Obama could not get the votes of low income whites or Hispanics. These things were all disproved. Not much of a reality is it? Political reality is just another word for cant and i think Obama has shown he has little respect for that word.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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