Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Potomac Primary

I live in Washington, DC where today we're doing our primary voting. I go over to a local union building for the vote in my neighborhood. I'm pretty much set regarding who I'll vote for, but I've curiously found myself having some anti-anointment pangs. I felt this way when Clinton looked like the "presumptive nominee" and I feel this way now that Obama is nearly the presumptive nominee. Obama will win all the primaries today. He is steam-rolling through the primaries and caucuses in general, he has overtaken Hillary in national polls and appears slated to win key upcoming primaries, and I'm pretty sure now that he'll be the Democratic candidate come March 4th. In other words, I think it's over. This is perhaps getting ahead of things, but the signs are undeniable, in my view. So, today's vote - whose outcome is all but certain - feels like an anointment.

My colleague Peter Levine and his outfit, CIRCLE, have been doing the numbers on the so-called youth vote. But, anecdotally-speaking, you should see my students. I haven't seen this before. Obama is a rock star. Actually, more than that. It's near-religious. I know this theme is not new, but it's interesting to see it in the concrete. Look, in the majority of their adult life, they have known only the Bush administration. They know only policy disaster and political dismay. Obama in many ways represents their multicultural, hopeful world. The excitement is clear.

These are policy graduate students. They're not unaware of concrete policy issues and political machinations. In fact, many of them are already close to being experts who will eventually take leadership roles on policy issues. Our school has many connections in government and the policy world, but this isn't Harvard or Yale where the students are already themselves anointed into well-connected positions of leadership whether merited or not. This means that the future is less certain for them. After experiencing years of an administration that has closed off much of the government to smart, motivated, and right-intentioned people, where some - such as at the State Department - explicitly state that they've been biding their time until the next administration, and others have simply turned towards other career paths, Obama represents in his very person - regardless of campaign policy pledges - a promising, open future. Shouldn't any of us be voting for those future generations as well as ourselves?

Although I'm not keen on anointments, less of the future is mine and my generation's than my students'.


Madam Mayo said...

I'm voting today in DC for Obama. I believe much of his so-called charisma simply comes from his focusing -- you hear it in all of his speeches, his recent book, his website--- on "we" and "you" rather than the Clintonian "I". Obama "gets" the concept of servant leadership, that is, leading not as some kind of rock-star-pseudo-royal but as a true servant of the people in what is, still, yes, a Republic.

barba de chiva said...

So: anti-anointment pangs is what those are called. I've been feeling funny about the fact that the TX vote could matter to the Democratic Party . . .

I was talking with a colleague here the other day who is planning to vote for Clinton, at least, I gather, partly because he's afraid that the gesture of voting for Obama threatens rekindle the presently-embarrassing feelings of hope he had during these same months in 1992. He is, he told me "in love with the way I felt then," but he is committed to not being suckered unrealistically.

I told him I would vote for Obama.

MT said...

Anti-anoinment hit me too. I think. I felt a worry in voting for an Obama-nation, so to speak, that I wouldn't have in voting for Clinton. But I feel like I saw this Kool-Aid being made.

CKR said...

Madam Mayo is right. The "we" versus "I" thing is something I learned from one of my mentors. People have been longing for that at least since 9/11.

That said, I love the hope the students show and the way they respond to that very small but significant marker of leadership. We older folks are justified by experience in the anti-anointment feeling, but we would do well to relearn some of that hope.

Greg said...

I just looked up the word anointment in the online Webster dictionary via my phone and the first ad to load while reading the definition was for Obama. When I made my choice, on my way to the polls, I asked myself who would lead our nation most effectively in a world of rapid technological change and globalization. I went from seeing Obama initially as the least of 3 evils to a huge potential asset for our nation.