What happened to Barack “I’m a new sort of politician” Obama? This is the guy who endeared himself to many, many people (even me) when he proclaimed that he would run a new, higher-brow campaign that eschewed attack ads and favored productive dialogue over the traditional mudslinging tactics. I was so excited to see a politician committed to being so nonpolitical. Alas, it appears that Obama has given up on that dream.
The nail in the coffin of that idealistic spirit came with the VP announcement of Joe “venom-spewing” Biden, an old-school Washington politician who runs his mouth off in negative ways better than just about anyone. If Obama had wanted to prioritize his “new politics” positivity, he would have picked a Washington outsider like governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. Instead, and clearly out of fears that the election is looking closer than he originally intended, Obama picked a blue-blood politico with the gall to fight back against McCain. It’s probably a shrewd move, but it’s one that really disappoints me. Obama is clearly resigned to waging a war, forsaking his (admittedly naïve) ideals of waging a “new sort of campaign.”
I suspect that these last few months of increased attack ads and pushback by Obama have disheartened more than a few Obama supporters. In surveying the message boards and blogs on MyBarackObama.com today, I found several indications that young voters especially (those, like me, who most responded to Obama’s anti-political persona) have indeed become a little disillusioned.
Take this confessional blog post (copied from MyBarackObama.com) from Alex Leo entitled “Why I am suspending my campaigning efforts”:
When I first became attracted to Obama as a leader, and as a candidate for president, it was March of 2007. The more I had learned about the political process and the more I understood about the framer's intentions behind the Constitution, the more disillusioned I became with politics, the people in power, and the state our nation had come to. Disillusionment turned to Cynicism, and Cynicism to a total lack of Hope.
It comes as little surprise to Obama supporters why Obama's message attracted me. Obama spoke to the corruption that was in Washington, spoke to the areas where the system had been crippled, and promised a campaign devoid of "that kind of politics."
I believe that Barack Obama has reverted into the same level of politics that he so promised he would stand above. There were signs of it in the race against Clinton; the clever campaign slogans, the trite phrases designed for soundbytes. At the same time, he still held largely to his convictions and ran one of the cleanest campaigns anyone could have.
Not so, now. From political shifts to the center that underscore the campaigns expediency, to "response-to-attack" adds that utilize the same negative add tactics that McCain is using, Obama seems to have gone astray from the "different kind of politics" that he promised. For the time being, Obama stands as any other Democratic politician.
So, because much of my initial reasoning for supporting Obama has been undermined, I am suspending my efforts to actively campaign for him. I am still going to vote for him; I agree with many of his policies, and have no respect for McCain at this point. If the campaign cleans up, I may choose to resume my active campaigning, but for the time being, I'm going to hold Obama to the standard that he once demanded of Washington.
I agree completely with Alex. It would have been interesting to see if Obama could have won or lost the election had he stayed the revolutionary course of a “different kind of politics”; but now that he’s just another politician doing the tiresome mudslinging thing, we’ll never know. Thanks for trying to set a new example, Barack. A future leader will have to carry on where you left off.