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This post has nothing to do with Linux or Unreal Tournament.

So, okay.

Anyone that knows me in Real Life knows I'm a political junkie. I tend 
to obsess over trends, polls, commentary, YouTube videos, news cycles, 
debates, speeches and endorsements. I can talk your ear off for 
hours about it. There's even a whiteboard in my house with current 
delegate counts on it. It's all like porn to me. Political math porn.

Generally I keep my politics offline, because we all know what they say 
about arguing on the Internet. But I feel that I would be remiss to not 
speak up now, because I think that this year--on both sides of the 
aisle--there isn't a single foregone conclusion about anything.
Candidates crash and reboot multiple times, dead-certain polls turn 
out to be wrong, and all we know is that we don't really know anything 
about who's going to come out on top.

In fact, the only thing we're all pretty sure about: everything is up 
for grabs. Today, Super-Duper-Tuesday-With-A-Cherry-On-Top is going to 
go a long way towards settling the nominations for both parties.

Between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, a good portion of the country 
is wavering in the 50% range between the two. While this means that 
both will get roughly half of the delegates, there are two factors 
worth considering:

1) Image is important, and being able to declare "victory" in more 
states is going to be very important for momentum, regardless of 
delegates assigned. Notice how Clinton treated her "win" in Michigan? 
Due to a snafu in the DNC, there were no delegates there, and no one 
else on the ballot. But you can still take that press to the bank!

2) Democrats work with a "superdelegate" system. 796 delegates vote 
however they see fit, and this may be the first time in the history of 
the party where they decide the election, and possibly override the 
will of the public. I mention this because CNN's current delegate count 
puts Obama ahead in delegates won from primaries, but Clinton way ahead 
in the total due to superdelegates. If you are a Democrat, you do not
want your candidate to be chosen in backroom deals, called-in political 
favors, and exploited histories between a handful of career politicians 
over the will of the people. You do not even want the appearance 
of that if you want to win the general election. Everything goes much 
easier if someone pulls far far ahead in assigned delegates, reducing 
the superdelegates' power.

Since many of the February 5th primaries and caucuses are going to be 
splitting-hairs close, it's going to come down to who gets the most 
warm bodies to show up.

If your state is voting today, you need to get out there, no matter who 
your candidate is, because not showing up is the worst thing at this 
point, more so than Gore vs. Bush, and even more so than Bush vs. 
Kerry. Nothing is settled, and as any mother of a soldier killed in 
Baghdad can tell you: there really is something to lose.

For crying out loud, control of the entire Senate came down to about 
2000 votes in Eastern Nowhere, Montana last time, so don't ever tell me 
your vote doesn't matter! Showing up and raising your hand today could 
literally alter the course of the nation for the next eight years. You 
owe it to your neighbors, your countrymen, and yourself to get your 
ass to the voting booth at any cost.


That being said, here's my pitch:

When you go to the polls today, please support Barack Obama.

I am frankly sick to death of the polarization of American politics. 
I've had too many years of Democrats demonizing Republicans and 
Republicans demonizing Democrats. Some times one party is right, 
and some times the other is. Fine. There will be disagreements. No 
problem. There will be politics in the worst sense of that word. To be 
expected.

But there have been way too many years of people scratching each others' 
eyes out, catfighting over insanely needless minutia, and generating
politics out of thin air. I'm frankly done with it. I think most people
agree--whether they generally agree with him or not--that Bush has proven
to be a polarizing figure. In his own vocabulary, he's been a Divider
instead of a Uniter, and that has cost the country in ways that go beyond
budgetary concerns.

I didn't come here to hit the punching bag, though. Bush is not the 
first president to polarize, and he won't be the last, but I think 
it's fair to say if she's elected, Hillary Clinton will be the next. 
She didn't bring this all on herself--talk radio has been flinging poo 
at her longer than my generation has been voting--but it changes 
nothing. Another four to eight years of my tax dollars funding trumped 
up nonsense like Whitewater scandals and suggestions on Fox News that 
Clinton had Vince Foster murdered? That is something I can do without.

A Clinton can polarize as well as a Bush. Ideally you want a president 
that people can get behind, even if they don't agree on every point. 
You want an American president, not a president for the Republicans or 
a president for the Democrats.

You just can't watch Barack and not feel that vibe. I think that the 
comparisons to JFK are perfectly justified. When he speaks, it's poetry,
and the country responds.

For what it's worth, I find Mitt Romney to be extremely phony, and 
still have his statement about wanting "double Guantanamo" echoing 
around my head. I think he thinks that's what "conservatives" want, 
which speaks poorly of both Romney for crafting a bogus conservative 
costume, and for modern conservatism itself, that such a caricature 
could fly at all on the national stage.

I also worry a great deal about John McCain. Not to diminish his 
experiences in Vietnam, but I am concerned that almost every thing he 
says is phrased with the wording of war. Here he is at last week's 
debate in California, repeating something he's said many times before:

   "I was part of the Reagan revolution. I was there with Jack Kemp and 
    Phil Gramm and Warren Rudman and all these other fighters that 
    wanted to change a terrible economic situation in America with 10 
    percent unemployment and 20 percent interest rates. I was proud to 
    be a foot soldier, support those tax cuts, and they had spending 
    restraints associated with it."

Revolution? Fighters? Foot soldier? We're talking about tax rebates!


Of those left standing, Obama seems to be the candidate of peace, 
having spoken against the Iraq war from the start, even when it 
was considered politically unpopular. Clinton has always felt extremely 
calculated on this issue, unapologetic about her willingness to jump to 
unprovoked war when it was politically expedient. Her refusal 
to admit guilt now makes her strangely proud of being duped into 
signing off on unilateral action under false pretenses. None of this 
speaks well of a candidate aspiring to the highest office in the land.

In many other ways, Clinton and Obama are very similar in policy, but 
the Iraq thing is important, and it's beyond time for Americans, as
voters, to stop being enablers.

It's not an accident that the word "change" is getting thrown around a 
lot now, by every candidate. That started in earnest when Obama won 
Iowa, and he's been gaining steam ever since. Watching the horserace in 
South Carolina--including watching Bill Clinton acting badly--really 
brought it home for me. Barack is right: this really is about The Past 
and The Future, Dirty Politics and The Politics of Hope. He was not
talking about Bush when he said that. If you want a change from the
business as usual, voting Democrat may not be enough in itself.

When North Carolina votes, months from now, we may still be wondering 
who will win the nomination, but I'll be showing up for Barack in 
either case, and I encourage all those voting today to do so, too.

It's going to come down to every single vote, every lever pulled, and 
every hand raised. Make sure one of those hands is yours.



(I've obviously cut a lot of corners here to get to some primary 
points, including unfairly ignoring Huckabee and Paul. If anyone wants 
to discuss specific policy points of any candidate, I'm happy to receive 
your email.)

--ryan.
    

When this .plan was written: 2008-02-05 07:38:27
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