Friday, January 04, 2008

Two Thoughts on Obama

Like many people I've been inpressed with Barack Obama's presence and oratory since he burst onto the national scene in 2004 so I was heartened by his win in the Iowa caucus last night (if Bill Richardson can't win, why not back Obama?).

I have two thoughts based on his speech and the reporting around him from last night:

1) Obama has obviously read that MBA classic, Leading Change by John Kotter. "Change agent"? Classic stuff; very useful.

2) Despite the incredulous wonder of the commentariat, it's not a miracle that Obama can win intra-Democratic contests and probably national elections in the 95 to 98% white Northern states. It's going to be a miracle if he can pull it off in more diverse places like South Carolina, where history and hate are more explicitly intertwined. They are going to Harold Ford him everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon.

The grounds of the South Carolina state house, 143 years after their defeat by the North.

5 comments:

Margaret Evans Porter said...

I hope you're wrong. I've lived below the Mason-Dixon line. I want to believe things have changed in SC. I believe at least half the Democratic electorate there is black. In GA, a state about which I'm even more knowledgeable, in metro areas the political establishment is black, and has held every office from Governor on down.

Time will tell....

Not a bit surprised about Iowa. Am loving the mystery of what will actually happen here in the Granite State.

weasel said...

He can win a primary anywhere, and I fervently hope he can win a general election in the south. Its not the Democratic electorate I'm worried about: its the swing voters in places like Tennesee that the RNC felt would be swayed by the Harold Ford ad I linked to.

As for Georgia: I agree, metropolitan Georgia is a cosmopolitan and tolerant place. Its the folks like some friends of my mother we visited in North Georgia, who had left Atlanta because of "crime" (I'll let you work out what that implied) that I think he won't win over. Metro Georgia does have a black establishement. Rural and suburban Georgia is as GOP as it comes.

I don't think the south is all white hoods and burning crosses. Its more subtle, even unthinking, than that. People I've met on my trips to the south would never describe themselves as racist and would be horrified if one suggested it, yet they still whisper Archie Bunker-esque acronyms for public transport systems (SCAT in Sarasota, MARTA in Atlanta), talk about "Fred's black friend Joe", and fret about "crime".

Margaret Evans Porter said...

I should've said "Mayor" (and city councils) on down, not Governor.

And yes, you're right again. But I hope like anything that forces will coalesce and mobilise and demonstrate that change is possible. Especially down there!

grantmad said...

I can imagine they would do the same, if in a slightly different fashion, to Hilary. I was raised, in the 60s, to believe that the south is uncivilized. Nothing has happened since then to make me think otherwise.

Mainecatwoman said...

In reference to the first poster's point, the issue is not whether or not there are a large number of African-American voters below Mason-Dixon-it's the systematic way they have been disenfranchised that stands in the way of Obama taking those states. Voter fraud directed towards persons of color is rampant in areas where there is a large black and/or immigrant population. That will be the Obama's biggest challenge...that and the fact that the "Southern Strategy" remians alive and well in the hearts of the GOP strategists.

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