So, did you catch the infomercial last night? I did not—I was returning home from a Bible Study that talked about how Christians should respond regardless of the outcome. I’ve heard some say that it was a bust, some say they couldn’t care less, and some that say he didn’t make the sale.
But none of that is as important as understanding what is going on here.
The Politics of Personality
For quite some time now I’ve been baffled by what I’m seeing from the Obama campaign. I’ve been amazed as people line up behind a man that is a blank slate—no papers from college, way inexperienced, and with a very liberal voting record. I’ve marveled along with the rest of the right, and believed I understood why his poll numbers are stuck, and not climbing—that he wasn’t fooling everyone.
But those people—those that claim to be Republicans—that are voting for Sen. Obama… what are they seeing?
It wasn’t until today, this article and the following ad, where it all started to make sense:
First, there was the article Obama and the Politics of Crowds that helped me to understand the piece of the puzzle that I was missing. It wasn’t that people weren’t voting based on principle, it was that they were projecting their principles onto a blank slate.
On the face of it, there is nothing overwhelmingly stirring about Sen. Obama. There is a cerebral quality to him, and an air of detachment. He has eloquence, but within bounds. After nearly two years on the trail, the audience can pretty much anticipate and recite his lines. The political genius of the man is that he is a blank slate. The devotees can project onto him what they wish.
Which helps to explain why a free market capitalist would vote for someone with a socialist voting track record. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s because they do not see him the way that his record portends.
The movement has become bigger than the person, and in fact is contrary to the person. For me, it goes back to something I said earlier where I believe that many want a President that would behave like they would in any given situation. They project onto this blank slate their ideals, because he has made himself this way.
Which illustrates itself in this ad. How can anyone be an Evangelical Christian and vote for someone that blocked a law that would protect children born from a botched abortion—with the highest rating from Planned Parenthood?
How can someone who Sen. Obama’s going to tax out of a job in financial services vote to have his job lost?
These people are not basing their vote on concrete things, but on feelings, on attachments to words like “change” and “hope” without specifying change from what to what, and what we should have hope in.