As a supreme pessimist, there are times when I wish I could be proven wrong. Though generally impressed by the political ascendancy of Barack Obama (first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, first African-American Senator since the Mississippi tandem of Revels and Bruce back in the days of Reconstruction, first African-American major party presidential candidate) I have always contended that John McCain would win November’s election. The most recent polls only confirm the very real possibility of such. According to the USA Today/Gallup Poll released this morning, John McCain leads Obama by a margin of 50% – 46% in registered voters (newspapers have been quick to use the 10 point gap statistics of their survey of likely voters) CNN’s Poll of Polls had Obama holding on to a one percent lead. With margin of errors factored in, it’s anyone’s ballgame.
This is the United States of America folks. A Democratic candidate who has been more charismatic and dynamic than the ’00 and ’04 offerings of Gore and Kerry (and not too different in political positions) can’t stake out a big lead over his Republican rival. This, I may remind you, is in the coming aftermath of eight years of one of the worst presidencies ever – that of George W. Bush. How could this be happening? Why have I always been predicting a McCain victory? Rewind four years – an office hours conversation between my Latin American history professor and I culminated in the conclusion that George W. Bush would win the election. The small political prophecy unfortunately came true. After having read The Right Nation by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both my professor and I came to a more sobering understanding of the reality and prevalence of conservative power in the U.S. No less than McCain himself wrote a blurb on the back of the book which praises the authors’ serious and insightful analysis.
And so it was, and so it might shall be again. The book predicted a Bush victory and sadly it was right. Why? Because it was quite astute in assessing the true nature and stature of the conservative movement in the U.S. In 2008, not much has changed so it wouldn’t surprise me if the GOP were again able to obtain success in the presidential election. The country is far more right-wing, as the book points out, than leftists and progressives would like to believe. McCain can receive a boost in the polls as the US Labor Department releases statistics on increasing joblessness because the campaign strategy is about image, not issues. And quite honestly, a subsection of people who vote in this country do not immerse themselves in the issues of the day and base their support on PR constructed “reasons.” And if they do, it is a sad regurgitation of conservative hegemonic discourse (i.e. bullshit) that saturates the media landscape. (Thanks for the ownership consolidation Dixiecrat Clinton!)
Hell, just now on CNN a woman stated that Sarah Palin made her support McCain because the Alaska governor had a “no-nonsense” attitude. That’s an image vote, not an issues vote. There are more of those than you would like to believe. And so Palin’s boost, which outpaced Obama’s historic acceptance speech, should send those who have been giving nuanced views of the evangelical voting block back to the analytical drawing tables. No, the public has not tired of the culture wars and yes Palin’s extreme conservatism isn’t as fringe as we would like to think. Such nuances in the evangelical voting block – that they give a shit about climate change and other issues – are present to be sure – but not yet significant enough to disrupt the general trend in the last twenty years from repeating itself. Why else would Palin’s vacuous issues evasive speech seem to resonate more than the deliverative speech of Obama? We live in The Right Nation!
Oh yeah, and because Obama is an African-American and this country is still racist (will be too, even if he is elected, which he probably won’t be, because the U.S. is still largely racist)
So have a have at it. I sadly stand by my prediction for November ’08. Hedge your bets against me, and I’ll entertain the terms.