Sunday, September 7, 2008

What Brung Them

The great liberal commentator Molly Ivins was so fond of the saying, "You got to dance with them what brung you," that she used it for a book title. By this she meant, of course, that politicians have to work with the people who bring them into office, whether with votes or money. So who has brought Obama and now McCain?

First, of course, wealthy lobbyists. The great unreported story of the Democratic National Convention, says the estimable Jane Hamsher at, is "the unhealthy relationship between Democratic politicians and their bigwig donors." Obama flirts with wealth and power, most notably with his selection of Biden as his running mate. McCain's connection with wealth are substantial; he married it, after all. Palin's connections with Big Oil are even more dramatic; if Obama flirts with wealth and power, and McCain has married it, Palin, despite her claimed Christianity, has had a long affair with them. But she seems to have married power, and fanaticism.

Second, the primary run of Hilary Clinton, McCain's pick of Palin and her popularity, show that women, more than any single group, have brought the Presidential candidates. Welcome to the 21st century. And--some women support Palin? If she has her way, it will be back to the times when everyone knew some young woman who had died from a failed abortion, some woman whose heart was broken by bearing a child and giving it up for adoption, or some woman or man who was forced into a bad marriage by an unexpected pregnancy! I suppose it is no different than tough working men supporting Republicans who have consistently sold them out, but it is heartbreaking to see anyway.

Third, progressive beginners. These are the young (and not so young) Obama supporters who support Obama's "change," even though they're not sure what it means. They don't want perpetual war, they want health care, they are environmentalists. I believe this group also includes some of the young Republicans who are thrilled by Sarah Palin. I think this group is much more likely to get what it wants from an Obama administration than a McCain (or Palin) administration, but it's not likely to get all of what it wants, because the conservatives are too strong. The Democrats aren't very happy with this group, as witness the choice of Biden for Obama's running mate, but they will probably have to make some concessions to them.

Fourth is reactionaries. "Give me back the Berlin wall / give me Stalin and St Paul / I've seen the future, brother: / it is murder."* This group wants change, but the change they want is a return to the real or imagined past. Obama, by not pinning down his "change", has attracted some of these voters, and through rhetorical prowess may even have persuaded some of them that there is hope, but by and large these are Republicans.

Fifth, still, are religious authoritarians. These bring the Republicans, and the Republicans have chosen Palin to lead their part of the dance.

So, to recap, we have:
1. Lobbyists
2. WOMEN!!!
3. Progressive beginners
4. Reactionaries
5. Religious authoritarians

How does this play out? First, the pervasive influence of great wealth in US government is not going away soon (duh). Second, the influence of women is bipartisan. But in the areas where the pols have some latitude, it seems the Democrats are going to be influenced by progressive beginners and old feminists, and the Republicans by reactionaries and religious authoritarians.

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