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

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Racism, as American as Apple Pie

Jena, Louisiana, site of the" Jena Six"-related racial issues in 2007.

"The 1968 Kerner Commission conclusion that racism is deeply embedded in the American society is still true. Racism is still as American as apple pie in this area. The existing huge disparities by race could not exist without racism."

-Detroit citizen, Karl Gregory, at recent hearing on race

As I wrote about previously, I was moved by Obama’s recent speech on racism. Did I think it would catalyze a national discussion of any substance though? Of that, I was less sure. What I realize now, is that I just wasn’t sure what we’d be talking about if there was such a “national discussion.” What I was lacking, I realize, is a framework—a framework of what exactly the racial problems of our day are, what they have been, and what solutions have been attempted over the years. If a national discussion is to happen—and I am convinced now that it should somehow—then surely we must have information with which to productively talk about race. Without such information, people will lack buy-in—they will know in their bones that something is wrong, but will lack the facts of both the problems and the potential solutions. This risks emotional starts to conversations—and initiatives—that will quickly fizzle out because of lack of facts.

What am I going on about? Education. This is what struck those who listened to Obama’s speech: he educated us, in ways, about specific problems related to skin color, teaching whites about black issues, and vice versa (something he is well equipped to do, given his mixed background and related experiences in the worlds of both blacks and whites). With his specifics, he set an example, I believe, for the type of substance that should characterize any “national discussions” that might occur.

For example, he shared some of the following (well-balanced) specifics:

“So when [whites are] are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.”

But he goes on, discussing specific actions that could be taken:

“In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations.”

The rest of this post focuses mainly on more specifics of race-related problems, as well as potential ways to approach solutions, but an important sidenote: I heard the author Susan Jacoby talk recently about how we need an “Educator in Chief” badly in the US, who will take the time to talk with the American people about issues, educating them about why something is a problem, and I think Obama’s speech is a good sign that he may just be such an Educator in Chief. The great video of Jacoby’s discussion on this can be watched here.

The reason I realized I was lacking the type of specific information I mentioned above, or a “framework” as I called it, is because last night's episode of what has become my favorite weekly show, “Bill Moyers Journal,” was on these issues. Bill Moyers has much to say about, well, a lot, so I would encourage any unacquainted readers to delve into some of his weekly shows, the archives of which are available in video form on his website, His show last night did something that we rarely do though, it considered history—where we were in the past with race-related issues, and the all-important question of whether we have advanced. The conclusion was grim, in large part.

The first part of the show focused on the race riots of 1967—primarily those in Detroit, Michigan and Newark, New Jersey, although apparently “126 cities were hit by racial violence [that year], with 75 incidents classified as major riots (emphasis added).” President Lyndon Johnson responded by forming the “Kerner Commission,” with the intent of understanding and dealing with the underlying problems. The Commission surprised many by finding that the riots were not planned (by those such as the Black Panthers or others), but grew in large part out of “white racism”: “[W]hat white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that the white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it. White institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” In the show, Moyers goes on to talk with one of the few members of the Commission still alive, highlighting how many of the recommendations of the Commission were not realized, and remain with us today.

To keep with the theme of forming a framework with which to consider race, I’ll review some quotes from the show that helped me realize how devastatingly real a factor race still is in our country. The following are a few of those quotes, all taken from a forum in Detroit on race-related issues (clips from the forum were included in the show):

DR. HERBERT SMITHERMAN: "In 1970, the infant mortality rate, that is our babies dying before age of one, was about 65 percent higher in the black community than in the white community. Currently, it's 205 percent higher in the black community than in the white community."

GEORGE GALSTER: "The City of Detroit constitutes 85 percent black residents, only nine percent white residents. The poverty rate—white, it's only 5.9 percent, blacks: 24 percent. The median family income—for whites, over $65,000, for blacks, only $37,000. We could go on and on, but, it's very clear that there are these measurable distinctions between blacks and whites in metro Detroit."

ROY LEVY WILLIAMS: "The one industry which has flourished [in Detroit] is the prison industry. And, yes, it has become an industry. During the last 15 years, this state has been averaging one brand new prison a year."

One other gentleman who spoke at the forum, Dr. Herbert Smitherman, discussed the question of what we can do about these issues:

“When we had 9/11, we were arguing about Social Security reform. Where are we gonna find the money for it? And within 48 hours after 9/11, we found $40 billion for New York City, a billion dollars an hour. When we want to do something as a country, we do it. This is not about can we do. This is about a will. This is about do we want to do. When you start saying I'm gonna have cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, cuts to housing in urban development, no subsidies to mass transit, eliminate funding for job training, cut school lunch programs for inner city children, eliminate school loan programs for minority students, repeal after-school programs. What I'm saying is this is about public policy. This is about resource implementation.”

Those numbers don't even take into account the $11 billion we find to fund the war in Iraq each month.

In the second-half of the show, Moyers has a discussion with the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker. Booker, a 38-year old Yale Law graduate, comes across as an inspired pragmatist in his approach to questions of race in the city. At one point, he moved from the suburbs surrounding Newark, right into the projects for eight years. As mayor, he brought the murder rate down 70 percent, and implemented difficult, but important reforms and policies. What he said that really cut to the heart of matters though, was that the changes we need do not start with policy, but attitude. He talked about how we know past generations struggled to start this country, to move it past slavery, past a Civil War and much inequality, but that we falter with our current problems because we think the work is done—i.e., that there is not work for us to do in perfecting our union, as there was for our forefathers. Watch the show, and you will see that that just is not so and, hopefully, moved as I was to consider the very real ways we can be involved in sacrificing our comfort for the larger good.

The video of the show is below, and I would implore any who wonder about the depth of this issue, and the seemingly abstract question of how to address it, to take 60 minutes to watch. We have time for many things in America, but somehow have been confused into thinking that our time is best spent serving ourselves. I find this to be a damning truth that grows out of what I mentioned above, that sense that there is not work left to be done. I mention it again because I don’t think it simply describes a handful of us, but so many in America—myself included. This is some of what I believe Obama speaks to when he encourages us to think of ourselves as our “brother’s or sister’s keeper.” And this is what Moyers’ show last night cut to the heart of, asking, as Smitherman did above, do we have the will to reach outside of ourselves, again and again, working to change these problems that plague our country (and our world, for that matter)?

Part 1, on the Kerner Commission, with former Senator Fred Harris:

Part 2, on racism today, and solutions for today, with Newark Mayor Cory Booker:

As the 40th remembrance of Martin Luther King's assassination comes and goes (April 4th), here's a great piece describing his final days, along with his measured, peaceful approach to change. In it, David Brooks of the New York Times, an admitted conservative, makes an interesting observation: "If Barack Obama’s presidential campaign represents anything, it is the triumph of King’s early-60s style of activism over the angry and reckless late-60s style." It's a brief piece, and worth the read.

Update 2: Good piece in Congressional Quarterly on what they call the "generation gap on racial politics."

Update 3: A helpful reminder in a recent Washington Post piece of how some are still blatantly rejecting Obama because of race.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Value, and Values, of Barack: Racial Acuity

Obama spoke today, and it was indeed unique. The topic was race, and his honesty was encouraging. I will not say much before pasting an excerpt of his speech and a link to the video of it, but will note that what stood out most was his ability and authority, as a man of mixed race, to speak to both the black and white community--and with a candor and conviction that was heartening, and so necessary in our country, divided racially and otherwise as we are under the surface. To hear a leader so moved by issues that politicians seem alternately blind and powerless towards, was in itself moving; and it was not simply moving because inspiration is nice, but because people need to be moved in order to move (i.e., to progress)--and clearly, with race, there is much need for progress still; or, as he put it in his speech, there is much need for us to continue the work of perfecting our union.

Lastly, I would note that this is the first of what I intend to be a series of pieces on the values of Obama. The word itself--values--has been too commonly reserved for the political right, and in a way that limits the meaning of the word to a single religious community's singular, narrow interpretation. The Religious Right's use of the word, in fact, has not only cheapened it for those outside of the Religious Right, it has gone so far as to strip the value for those within, removing phrases such as income equality, disease reduction, and shared humanity from the idea of "values."

Below, I pasted an excerpt from the text of Obama's speech, wherein he speaks directly to the black and white communities in the ways I mentioned above. I would urge you to read and consider the capacity such thinking has to propel our country in correcting directions. The link to the video follows the speech, and is worth watching in its entirety, as it is filled with concepts that I personally have not heard many politicians delve into in near this depth, with near this focus.

"In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience - as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns - this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy - particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances - for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American - and yes, conservative - notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds - by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand - that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well."

The speech in full (around 20-30 (worthwhile) minutes):

Above photo credit: Picture from Obama's Flickr page, some rights reserved.

Check out the following line noted here in the blog on Obama's website. It's a short note this Pennsylvania guy sent in to the Obama campaign about the reaction of his "Republican, Vietnam veteran" father to the above speech:

"After today's speech, I got a call from my dad -- a retired, gun-owning Republican Vietnam veteran who still lives in the little broken down central PA town where I grew up. He happened to turn on the tv today and saw the speech. Immediately afterward he called me at work (which is unprecedented) to say that he was moved and had decided to give Obama $100. That's a lot of money for my dad.

Today's speech was supposed to inspire people like me -- a liberal, thirtysomething lawyer, Philadelphia resident, and longstanding member of the Obama bandwagon -- but when it gets to my dad, you're really on to something. He's McCain's base.

Keep up the good work,


Update 2: I should add that I'm not entirely sure what to make of Obama's now-former pastor's various statements/sermons; they have been troubling in ways. Although, I do feel Obama's nuanced approach to the issues with Rev. Wright in the above speech really speak to the problems frankly; there still may be some things that will need to be re-explained or more thoroughly addressed later, but he appears to have taken the issue pretty head-on. I also think that some important points about Rev. Wright are addressed well in this short, but good Washington Post article on the subject. On a related note, having been quite religious in past days, I do feel that Obama's awareness of issues related to faith and its proper relationship to politics is incredibly keen, as demonstrated in this speech he gave on faith in 2006.

Update 3: This morning's Washington Post (March 23rd) was lit up with articles about the Wright issue. There were two I thought especially good, here and here. The first is by a woman who describes herself as a "clenched-fist-pumping black nationalist" in the '70s and '80s, whose "words were as fiery as the Rev. Wright's." She says that she can understand Obama's unwillingness to totally "disown" Wright (although Obama unequivocally speaks against numerous things Wright said), and she goes on to say: "I understand this sentiment. I have not removed myself from people in my community who continue to rely on Wright-speak. We simply engage in debates. But their numbers are diminishing. More and more African Americans are coming to understand what we have in common with other Americans." The latter of the two articles talked, satirically at times, about how the general public would do well to remember that Obama is also half-white. In the print version of the paper, that article used a picture with him and his white grandparents (who, with his white mother, raised him, as he only saw his father a few times); however, it is worth pointing out that Obama's racial perspective must have also been significantly shaped by more than simply the African-American and Caucasian worlds, considering the Indonesian step-father he had, his half-Indonesian sister, and the years of his childhood spent in Indonesia and the not-homogeneous state of Hawaii. See a handful of pictures of him and his family members here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Value, and Values, of Barack Series

Part 1 -
The Value, and Values, of Barack: Racial Acuity

Part 2 - The Value, and Values, of Barack: Obama on...Parenting?

Part 3 - The Value, and Values, of Barack: Imperfect Messenger

Part 4 - The Value, and Values, of Barack: "It's Not Weak to Be Kind"

Part 5 - The Value, and Values, of Barack: Why He Gave That Speech on Race

AP: Pelosi's Delegate Stance Boosts Obama

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the highest ranking Democratic official right now, is saying the Democratic nomination should go to whoever gets the most delegates--even if that person doesn't get the largest number of the popular vote. This bodes well for Obama, see more of the details below in the first part of an AP article that was published yesterday...

"Pelosi says it would be damaging to the Democratic party for its leaders to buck the will of national convention delegates picked in primaries and caucuses, a declaration that gives a boost to Sen. Barack Obama.

'If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what's happened in the elections, it would be harmful to the Democratic party,' Pelosi said in an interview taped Friday for broadcast Sunday on ABC's 'This Week.'

The California Democrat did not mention either Obama or his rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, by name. But her remarks seemed to suggest she was prepared to cast her ballot at the convention in favor of the candidate who emerges from the primary season with the most pledged delegates.

Obama leads Clinton by 142 pledged delegates - those delegates picked in nomination contests to date, in The Associated Press' count.

Barring an unlikely string of landslide victories by the former first lady in the remaining states, he will end the primary season with a delegate lead, but short of the 2025 needed to win the nomination.

That gives the balance of power to the so-called superdelegates, prominent Democrats who are automatically entitled to attend the convention because of their status as members of Congress or other leaders. Clinton leads Obama for their support in the AP count, 249-213.

Pelosi's comments could influence other House Democrats who are neutral in the presidential race and will attend the convention as superdelegates.

In her interview, Pelosi also said that even if one candidate winds up with a larger share of the popular vote than the delegate leader, the candidate who has more delegates should prevail.

'It's a delegate race,' she said. 'The way the system works is that the delegates choose the nominee...' "

Read the rest of the article here...

Above photo credit: Picture by Randy Bayne.

Update: In an April 1st interview with NPR, Pelosi said that her belief that the nomination should go to the candidate with the most elected delegates was first tated when Clinton was ahead. Revealing the importance of her stance on this issue, she also received what's being called a "threatening" letter from the Clinton camp recently:

"In a recent letter, major Democratic donors and Clinton supporters pressured Pelosi to change her position that the superdelegates should back the candidate with the most delegates.

" 'I said this when Sen. Clinton was ahead, too,' Pelosi says. 'I don't remember receiving a letter from them at that time,' Pelosi says. 'But let me be as clear as I can be: That letter is unimportant.' "

Monday, March 10, 2008

VA GOP: We Won't Exploit Obama's Terrorist-Sounding Name

This is a guest post from a good friend and blogger, the Green Miles. Read more of his forward-thinking perspectives on politics and the environment at See my solicitation on the bottom right of this page if you're interested in putting some of your own thoughts up here on election-related issues.

The Virginia GOP is apparently trying to take credit for not race-baiting:

"The Republican Party of Virginia said today it would follow the lead of the party's likely presidential nominee, John McCain, by not using Sen. Barack Obama's middle name in fundraising appeals or other campaign literature.

Josh Noland, spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party, said Virginia Republicans 'will stick to the issues.' Obama is competing with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The decision comes amid a controversy in Tennessee after the Tennessee Republican Party sent out a press release mentioning Obama's middle name, Hussein. On Tuesday, McCain denounced GOP efforts to promote Obama's middle name."
As Josh Marshall has detailed, this is all part of the GOP's smear strategy:

"The core is to drill a handful of key adjectives into the public mind about Barack Obama: Muslim, anti-American, BLACK, terrorist, Arab. Maybe a little hustler and shifty thrown in, but we'll have to see. The details and specific arguments are sort of beside the point."

The party establishment doesn't have to directly sling mud. They can put out a press release saying, "We could easily go around calling him Barack Hussein Osama ... but choose not to." Score the points without getting your hands dirty.

Election 2008 editorial note: In relation to this post, see a similar move by Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa on March 7th, where he actually touts his comments--in a press release--that an Obama Presidency would have al-Qaeda "dancing in the streets." At one point he states:
"It does matter. His middle name does matter. It matters because they read a meaning into that, the rest of the world,---it has a special meaning to them. They’ll be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They’ll be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says, 'Pull out of the middle east. Pull out of this conflict.' "
By the way, if there is any shadow of a doubt among readers in respect to the smear campaigns that are calling Obama a radical Muslim and short on patriotism, see these notes on his religion and view of our country.

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.