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Something About Barack

April 19th, 2008 | by Dr. Forbush |

Just after Christmas Barack Obama won Iowa in the Democrat’s primary. Iowa was the culmination of months (almost years) of campaigning. Anyone living in Iowa with a bit of gumption could basically go up to any candidate and shake their hand and ask them difficult questions. This personal campaign style could not be reproduced on the national scale. But, it could be copied in New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton started the election cycle with the blessing of the grand masters as the golden child of the Democrats. Being the golden child means that money flows in to your campaign from established donors relatively easily. Everyone else in the race needed to work hard to change the minds of many that they at least deserved a chance to be seen and heard. After all, this is the way that American elections take place.

After Barack won Iowa he was coming on strong in New Hampshire. He had “momentum.” Momentum is an elusive idea if you think about it. Do you personally think to yourself and say, “Hey, that guy just won last weeks election, I think that I’ll vote for him?” We like to think that we wouldn’t be persuaded in such an uninformed way. We like to think that we sit and listen to a candidate and think about what they say and consider whether what they say could effect us in a positive way. Of course, every politician says the things that we think will effect us in a positive way. They never, or almost never say things that will effect us in a negative way. As voters it is our responsibility to discover the ways in which one person’s positive message is our negative message. So, how do we explain momentum?

Well, Hillary managed to shed a tear just in time to slow Barack’s momentum in New Hampshire. For a moment the nation and particularly New Hampshire thought that Hillary was possibly human. The control of this collective movement of political opinion is the elixir that all politicians seek. It seemed for a short time that Hillary knew how to turn people toward her with the bat of an eye.

Fortunately for America the primary season is spread out over several months. And, what people find important one week might mean very little a few weeks later. The idea is to allow the selection process weed out the potential problems we might not like when a candidate is elected. This would be a fairly honest system if it weren’t for the politics.

Politics is much more complex than what we normally see in the election process. Politics is about relationships. And, the key to winning elections normally lies in powerful relationships. The first most obvious relationship is between the candidate and the public; normally it is a relationship that builds over time as people get to know him and he gets to know the people. However, candidates that have already established relationships with existing politicians might be able to speed up this process. A powerful politician might use his relationship the people that support him to endorse a candidate that is less well know. And, for many people that trust transfers easily. The people don’t need to learn about the candidate if a person they trust tells them to accept the candidate. This saves time all around, but it also cheats the candidates that don’t have these powerful relationships from being heard. The candidate that has a less established network of relationships is always going to be at a disadvantage no matter how good their ideas are.

Of course, these are the realities of politics in America. The problem, however, is that good ideas make a country stronger, not necessarily good networks. Candidates are elected on their ability to build good networks, and only very rarely on their good ideas. Sometimes a person with good ideas is able to break into a network by bringing those idea to key people in the network that actually care about good ideas. However, if the network is devoid of people like this it become virtually impossible to make political progress.

With Barack Obama, however, he seems to be able to bring his good ideas forward and present them in such a way that people in the network of the powerful Democrats can not ignore him. We are only in this tight primary race because Barack Obama is able to communicate in such a superior way. If he were an average politician like Hillary Clinton but outside the network he would have simply been out of the race by now.

If you have any doubt about the uphill battle that Barack has fought so far, look at the polls from before a campaign enters a state until election day for almost every state voting so far. Initial polls favored Hillary Clinton in almost every race until Barack Obama began to spread his message. The longer that the public was exposed to his message the more he climbed in the polls. Hillary was spreading her message at the same time, however voter continued to slip from her and join Barack. If everyone had voted without campaigning, then every race would have ended up like Florida, where no one campaigned; Hillary winning by a huge margin. We this same phenomena playing out once again in Pennsylvania. Barack was down by 20 points before the campaigning even started. Hillary had the race in hand, until she actually had to make her pitch - why should you vote for her? With even footing at the beginning Barack would have built a lead based on his vision alone. There would be no competition by this time. However, Barack had to fight an uphill battle changing the minds of people who had been biased in the beginning. And, surprisingly he is doing it again and again.

When I look at this evidence it is clear to me that there must be something about Barack that keeps working. People don’t change their minds easily. If he can change the minds of these people he will certainly be able to work his magic as he moves on to the general election. And, as a President of the United States he will continue to need that power of persuasion in order to build his own power network with the people in Washington. Then he can put those ideas in place and really bring about change. After all the power is in the networks even if the ideas are not.


Don’t forget what Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit


  1. 5 Responses to “Something About Barack”

  2. By Craig R. Harmon on Apr 19, 2008 | Reply

    Barak has certainly changed my mind. I used to be less even than lukewarm about my support of McCain. He’s been far too often far too far off to the left in Mavericksville for me, the coup de gras being the (in my opinion) unconstitutional McCain-Feingold ‘Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act’. I had decided, once it was obvious that McCain would be the Republican nominee, that I would hold my nose and vote for McCain as the least of three evils.

    No more.

    The more I’ve learned about Obama, I realize that I must work overtime backing McCain for I can never allow Obama to have the reins of government without having done all I could to avoid that outcome.

    McCain/Lieberman ‘08, baby, McLieberman’s the guy for me!

  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Apr 19, 2008 | Reply

    Case in point: Obama’s recent comments on some comments by McCain are so devoid of context as to constitute a flat out lie. If this is the change Obama keeps talking about, I’m not interested. This is politics as usual: lies, lies, and yet more lies.

  4. By Craig R. Harmon on Apr 19, 2008 | Reply

    Don’t forget what Stephen Colbert said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

    No, no. Stephen Colbert has a well-known liberal bias; reality just is. It has no bias at all.

    It is the observers of reality that have the bias. They tend to make of reality whatever conforms with their preconceived biases rather than the other way around.

    Just read an interesting column on just this topic by Nicholas Kristoph. While I think Kristoph’s own biases creep through occasionally, I pretty much agree with his thesis. It pretty much matches my own anecdotal experience. It is only very rarely that bloggers and commenters here agree to agree with me (and I with them). Far more often, we agree to disagree — no matter how obviously right I am. ;-)

  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Apr 19, 2008 | Reply

    Oops! I forgot to link to the Kristof article. Here it is.

  6. By Craig R. Harmon on Apr 19, 2008 | Reply

    And apologies to Mr. Kristof for misspelling his name, twice, in a previous comment.

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