In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Six of One Dem, Half Dozen of Another? A Call to Consider (and Act On) Your Support

I believe the real test of one's support is to act on and defend it--something I would respect in any supporter, whether Democrat or Republican. Particularly in the case of Clinton and Obama, given McCain's virtually solidified place as the Republican nominee, I would encourage anyone to consider their support carefully, and to consider acting on it. I don't mean this as a taunting challenge, but I think it moves one to fully consider the attributes of a given candidate.

Specifically, I would encourage anyone who is supporting one of the Dems to deliberately consider if one is preferable, as I discuss a few paragraphs down, but to also consider how you can multiply that support by contacting voters in upcoming primary states. This can be done by contacting those you know, or by using either candidate's online calling systems (if only for 30 minutes to an hour, as I definitely know what's it like to be busy). The races are close, and these are neat, empowering ways for those outside the upcoming states to participate and influence the process--and in a way that, in the end, may be able to affect the outcome one vote at a time. The technology in place via both candidates online systems only gives you numbers that have not been called (with some occasional mistakes), and Obama's system even allows you to target calls to women, students, or Latinos (or you can just get a general list of numbers to call). For either system, you can call from home, as I mentioned, and simply need to create a username and password to get started. Clinton's system can be accessed here, and Obama's here.

Having had a few opportunities to make calls in the past, I've found that many want to talk one-on-one with someone about the issues at play, and that they have a sense of the import of their decision, and the troubled place of the country right now. As a quick suggestion to anyone who does make the effort, I would highly suggest starting out by asking questions, opposed to telling somebody this or that, as it engages them, and allows them to attempt to reason through their vote.

In that vein, although both Clinton and Obama's systems have what I imagine are helpful scripts, I've found it helpful to just ask something like if they are voting in the upcoming primary, and if so, if they have decided who they are voting for. If it's the candidate opposite yours, sometimes people are willing to hear you say something like, "I respect your decision, but would just challenge you to consider this or that" (being sure to make it a fairly quick line, which they then may be willing to engage with). If they are undecided, I've found it helpful to ask if they have any doubts or questions regarding your candidate. There's no avoiding some callers who just aren't willing to talk, will hang up on you right away, or will otherwise be straight up rude to you. I, for one, think that those negative aspects of the experience highlight the need for people to realize that productive dialogue can happen without having to act in those ways--a need which can be best combated, in my view, by deliberate attempts by whatever parties to start substantive dialogues about issues.

And now, a final note. I think, as my above title demonstrates, that it does matter which of the two remaining Dems makes it to the White House (if one indeed is able to). I especially feel the need to point this out because there is, what I believe to be, an unmerited sentiment among some that either Clinton or Obama is okay by them--if you ascribe to that mentality, I would just challenge you to be sure that you have calculated why you believe that to be the case. I will note a few of my posts in a moment that I believe highlight the reason Obama is highly desirable as a candidate and President, although I should say that I would support Clinton if she got the nomination; I think that she would be highly preferable to the type of policies McCain supports: maintaining Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy; not aiming for an overhaul of the health care system; maintaining the present approach to the war in Iraq; and other policies which I believe are unhelpful to the middle and lower classes.

Here are a few posts I've written though, taken from my "major qualms with Clinton" to the left, that stand out to me as reasons why I think Clinton is a somewhat troubling choice for the nomination or the Presidency. And again, I would challenge any readers to consider whether their support of Clinton, or their openness to either candidate, is merited, given these points:

1. Her vote for the use of force in Iraq in 2002;
2. Her earned and unearned devisiveness, and the threat that could mean for her electability in November, and for the length of time that the Democrats may remain in control of the White House and Congress;
3. Her and Bill's spotty integrity on the campaign trail;
4. The highly questionable nature of two families having control of the White House for 24-28 years; and
5. The quality of her highly-touted "experience."

Conversely, I do not see this simply as a matter of being against someone, but also being for someone: someone who stood up against the invasion of Iraq in 2002 with uncanny accuracy as to its flaws, as well as someone who has demonstrated (of all things) his experience over years of public service and life in general (for notes on the specifics of Obama's 2002 predictions of Iraq's flaws, check this post of mine, and for a detailed look at the experience question with Obama, check this recent post of mine on the subject).

Finally, I think a deliberate choice of one of these two candidates is important because it can contribute to the outcome of the race, as I noted above. This is more and more the case given the fact that Tuesday's vote may not turn out to be as decisive as was previously thought--namely because the Clinton camp seems increasingly intent on pushing the race to the last possible moment (even though, I would add, their campaign would need more than 3/4 of the vote in the rest of the races to win the nomination). So consider getting involved by making calls through the candidate's online systems, and/or contacting those you know in the upcoming states (Texas, Ohio, Vermont, or Rhode Island most immediately). Both of these acts, even though they do not involve marches on Washington or casting a vote, are capable of asserting one's role in our democracy--and, I would note, capable of multiplying one's influence beyond that of a single vote.

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