Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 4: Ohio primary (both parties)

Clinton 54
Obama 44

McCain 60
Huckabee 31
Paul 5

Hillary Clinton's victory in Ohio means a lot of things. To me, though, it symbolizes the average American's schizophrenic attitude towards globalization.

In a development Harry Truman and Dean Acheson could not have foreseen, the Democratic Party has become the domestic party of resistance to globalization. The Republican Party, traditionally an isolationist party, has been thoroughly permeated by neoconservative thinking. It is now stridently, brazenly pro-globalization, with a flavor for every faction. Republicans are for the universal conversion of the global population to Christianity, for unfettered and unrestricted trade in goods, financial services, and human services (morality be damned) as the surest way to line the pockets of its business supporters, and for an American empire that smites down any state or terrorist band that stands in its way. Robert Ingersoll, Nelson Aldrich, and Robert Taft would scarcely recognize their party anymore.

In a way, neoconservatism has been hoist by its own petard. The earliest neoconservatives - the Irving Kristols and William Buckleys - saw that isolationism was a vote-losing proposition for Republicans and argued that the only way to break Democratic Party dominance was global engagement. They were correct on the narrow political point, but they failed to perceive how the indigenous elements at work in the Republican Party would distort their principles.

So we have an administration in power that is getting globalization wrong. Here's where the Obama v. Clinton tete-a-tete comes in: it is a contest between the Democrats who want to do globalization right and the Democrats who don't want globalization at all, or don't see the need for it. Now the percent of blacks, Hispanics, women, men, whites, etc., who have voted for either candidate have varied from state to state. Yet the age difference - younger voters break for Obama, older voters for Clinton - has proven remarkably significant and durable all campaign long.

Young Democrats of our generation understand what is at stake. We are Democrats by choice; many of us have broken politically from our Reagan-voting, Reagan-minded parents. We have ethnically, geographically, and temperamentally diverse networks of friends. We are leaders of the Internet age, pioneering new uses of the Internet for research, social networking, and telecommunications. We are for the spread of peaceful worship and against hate speech that masquerades as worship. We are for unfettered trade and against trade that demeans human dignity. We are for shrinking the equatorial gap of non-integrated countries and against sending our brave soldiers hither and thither without a clear strategic plan.

Older Democrats, mindful of the courageous exceptions, don't understand what is at stake. Many are Democrats by birth and culture; Democratic Party membership was part of a social milieu of union halls, city commissions, and three-martini lunches, not a carefully considered statement of political principle. They have insular networks of friends. They may use e-mail but are skeptical of the Internet. They tend to be less geographically mobile. The urban wing of older Democrats viscerally identifies with Hillary as "one of them"; Camelot and Woodstock were the twin peaks of their lives, and Hillary was on the barricades with McGovern in '72, for crying out loud! The rural wing of older Democrats responds well to Hillary's subtle message of racism: "I'm not a man, I'll admit. But I've stayed married to a Bubba. Better me than that black guy named Hussein."

Obama's overwhelming support among African-Americans of all crosstabs aside, this explains the Hillary vote versus the Obama vote to a nutshell.

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