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People ask me that question often. Many assume that it is because Obama constantly invokes God in his speeches, while Edwards never does. But I know that religiosity is important in American politics today. Hopefully one day it will not be, or even better, overt religosity will become a handicap, i.e, being viewed by voters with suspicion. But that is not the reason why I made my choice the way I did.

My response to people who ask me this question is to explain how the GOP over the past 20-30 years systematically moved the entire political discourse in the USA to the Right. What used to be the Center is now called “Left”. What used to be the Right is now called “Center” and what used to be unthinkable depths of almost-fascistic ultra-right-wing ideloogy is now called a “Respectable Right”.

Obama, by appealing to “compromise” and “purpling” and “bipartisanship” is playing straight into the conservatives’ game – he is letting them shift the discourse further to the Right by redefining the new center. The Right has no intention of ever making a compromise: their definition of “compromise” is “you shut up and do as we say and smile”. Obama does not understand this. He is still naively giving them a benefit of the doubt that there is a trace of human decency still somewhere to be found in them.

This strategy is often called “triangulation” but the average person I meet does not know or understand that word, so I feel compelled to explain it the way I just did above.

On the contrary – and this is the biggest difference between the two of them (and Hillary Clinton is similar to Obama in this regard) – Edwards is aware (by being more experienced than Obama, or due to growing up in the South, or Elizabeth’s influence…) of the trick and is trying to counter it and to move the political landscape of the country back to the left, so the Left is Left, Center is Center and Right is Right again.

I do not dislike Obama personally, and I do not dislike Clinton personally either. Most of their policy proposals are fine, and very similar to Edwards’. I am just worried about the future of the American politics if they are elected. They are liable to leave conservative ideology intact and within the domain of respectable, thus giving it a space to breath, to recuperate and, down the line, attack again.

I don’t think Edwards will let that happen (and I would have no problem with Obama for Veep – he can learn on the job – though my personal favourite for VP is Richardson). He will go as far left as he can to still be able to win. Who knows how much more left he will go if he actually wins and has a Democratic Congress to work with? Perhaps this country can join the modernity of the civilized world in a few years after all.


  1. #1 BrianR
    February 5, 2007

    Excellent points. Very much how I feel. Thank you for putting this in words!

  2. #2 DPG
    February 5, 2007

    I think you’re wrong. Obama is not triangulating or bi-partisan he’s post partisan. I’ll give you some links that I think demonstrate this:





    I hope you consider them.

  3. #3 coturnix
    February 5, 2007

    Thank you. I have seen those before. It is wonderful in theory, once we do join the civilized world. It is impossible to imnplement as long as GOP exists, or has any power, or is led by nutters like it is today. That is why I think Obama is great prospect for the future, but is too naive about the current situation. The Right needs to be squelched right now, not appeased or offered a seat at the table.

  4. #4 oneproudaardvark
    February 5, 2007

    Two questions: Do you think Edwards’s strategy will win over enough independents to secure the Whitehouse? (They seem to like the new “center.”)

    What do you think of Tom Vilsak? (I’m right with you on Richardson as VP–unlike the current president, he’s negotiated with Sudan, North Korea and the Taliban with at least some success.)

  5. #5 Josh
    February 5, 2007

    Bear in mind that I think Obama, Edwards or Richardson would all be excellent nominees, and I haven’t yet made up my mind about which to support. I don’t think Obama is naive. I’ve heard him speak, and interviewed him, and I think he’s fully aware of the role of partisanship. I think he also realizes that there are a lot of issues that cut across partisan lines.

    My sense is that he’s not so much triangulating as trying to move past the issues that divide and to focus on issues that unite us. Universal healthcare is extremely popular, and is one such issue.

    I admire John Edwards’ recent work on issues of poverty, but don’t forget how Obama got started in politics, as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side, a community with a long history of entrenched poverty and racial oppression. His experience there put him in the Illinois legislature, where he was able to promote a very progressive agenda with bipartisan support. In the US Senate, his ability to bring people across party lines is limited by institutional structures, but he’s put forward an aggressive plan for withdrawal from Iraq, and he has a carbon cap plan that is considered the most likely to actually pass.

    Triangulation carries a sense of someone shifting positions to meet the needs of the moment. Whether that was an accurate description of President Clinton, or of his wife today, is a question for another day. I do not think it accurately describes Barack Obama.

  6. #6 Glen Parker
    February 6, 2007

    Not enough experience, what about judgement?
    ” I know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military is a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
    ” I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.” October 2002 Barack Obama

  7. #7 Robert*
    February 7, 2007

    So in other words, Edwards is the Dennis Kucinich of this election cycle. Or would you prefer the Walter Mondale of this election cycle. Or the Ralph Nader.

  8. #8 DK
    April 2, 2007

    liberals have become the new center? i have no clue where you got that idea. If anything republicans have been slowly shifting to the left – if anything Bush has been forced to compromise with the popular ideas developed by the democrats – for example, take their initiative on pushing for the creation of DHS – Bush had no intentions of giving Gov’t MORE power – he was hesitant when creating OHS in the first place – but as soon as he realized DHS was gaining momentum what did he do? he decided to take a standpoint with the liberals, on the left, as he pushed his “own” DHS bill in the senate in attempt to steal wind from the DEMS’ bill in the house. Ironically, Bush’s bill asked for an even bigger reorganization than lieberman proposed.. Oh, lets not even get started with the creation of DNI.. but hey, liberal has become the new center, right? the biggest reorganization of government since the creation of the DOD – more control over business – and somehow the republicans have pushed the liberals from the left to the center. lets not forget that somehow the right minded “center” has granted increased federal funding for schools as well as increasing the minimum wage to name a few. yet liberals have become the new “center” go figure.

  9. #9 coturnix
    April 2, 2007

    Dontcha all love it when a batshit crazy conservative complains that Bushies are not conservative enough? Hey, if it is a total dictatorship but, hey, it has not been completely turned into theocracy yet, that means Bush is liberal. Cry me a river.

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