So what does Obama need to do now?

May 8, 2008

by Bryen Yuko

There are some who feel that Barack Obama’s nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States is all wrapped up now. Let me first mention that Obama himself has not declared himself the winner yet. In fact, this evening in a CNN interview, he stated that he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself as there are several states ahead which Hillary Clinton stands a huge chance of winning. And he called her a “formidable candidate.”

If Clinton does continue to win more primaries, then it will give the Democratic superdelegates a pause for thought.

Superdelegates… That’s the biggest problem here. The superdelegates have a unique duty to weigh in what is best for the party. They have to determine: A) what will perserve the party; B) what will best promote the goals and platform the party stands for; and C) who will be best suited to win the White House.

It is a serious quandary these superdelegates are facing. It is easy to say, “Well, the person who won the most votes gets my vote for nomination.” But remember — in the past several months, Obama, Clinton, and several other Democratic candidates were running for the party nomination, not for the highest office of the land. Running for the highest office is a completely different and separate campaign, with a completely different set of values to appeal to. In the presidential election campaign, you need to appeal to a diverse range of demographics, even to those with polarizing views. It is the crossovers that have traditionally won elections for a candidate.

Does Obama have what it takes to win the highest office? Possibly. He has amassed a large number of voters. But then again, so has Clinton. Combining all the votes garnered by both candidates makes this voting bloc a formidable challenge for Republican John McCain to beat. But when you separate these two groups, McCain stands a stronger chance. Again, the way to combat this is to appeal to crossover voters.

Many Clinton supporters have stated that if Clinton doesn’t win, they won’t vote Democratic in November. What happened here? Before the 2008 primary/caucus season began, many of us were saying we liked both candidates and that whoever won would get our vote in November. Now, we are asking ourselves, “Is this the time to vote for a different party?”

What the hell happened here? How did we end up dividing ourselves? Do Clinton supporters (including myself) really want a a Republican in the White House for yet ANOTHER FOUR YEARS??

The answer to that perplexing question lies in what is called a “mandate.” Those of you who are true political buffs know what I’m talking about. A mandate is what influences an elected official for most of their elected term. The mandate is you, the voter. Even though an elected official may be an independent thinker, he/she is still beholden to a mandate. The higher the voting percentage of a victorious election, the more powerful a mandate becomes which obliges a politician to move forth the programs he or she promised during their campaign. If a candidate wins with extremely high ratings, he/she is under a greater obligation to follow the mandate itself.

A prime example of the term “mandate” took place during Ronald Reagan’s second term as President. Typically, because a president is limited to two terms, their second term is referred to as a lame-duck presidency. They simply don’t have enough power to push through their proposed legislation because they’re no longer running for office again and thus not garnering continued popular support from their constituents. Reagan, however, was so immensely popular that even in his second term, he was able to beat back the “lame-duck syndrome” because he received a huge mandate during his landslide victory for the second presidential term.

Obama has an incredible mandate as well. He has the potential to push through a huge number of campaign promises. Possibly he could become the most effective president in history. However, I have my doubts on whether he can be effective in other areas of the Presidency.

But as this mandate grows larger and more divided, we see more people defecting from the Democratic Party in search of other candidates. I don’t believe that Obama and his followers truly see eye to eye. He wants to portray himself as a Uniter, and yet his followers have acted quite the opposite.

This Obama mandate, which consists of a large number of younger voters, has been seen disparaging other groups. Time and time again across blogs and news tickers, I see comments coming from Obama supporters that, frankly, scare the heck out of me. One of the biggest areas I see is disparaging older citizens. I have found to be bewildering and off-putting those comments against older citizens who have worked hard to contribute to this country.

I’ve also seen the same when it comes to religion, race, and so forth.

To build a stronger and more effective mandate, Obama needs to go back to his own loyal following and say, “Hey… what you guys are saying is not what I am about!” When I see comments coming from his followers that conflicts with Obama’s message, I get puzzled as to why Obama doesn’t go back to his own group and say… “Chill out already!”

And therein lies the crossover problem. As long as Obama’s mandate continues to act the way it does, and he doesn’t respond but rather follow along in order to get more votes, more of us start looking for other candidates to vote for, because we don’t feel that this group represents the core Democratic values we cherished and worked so hard to achieve over the years.

Obama has a lot of work to do in order to achieve a more cross-cultural mandate before he can win the election. I can vote comfortably for Obama as a person. I cannot comfortably and in good conscience vote for his mandate. And that is where many of us are today, and why there is this growing problem of defection.

Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors


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