I have my problems with Obama, but I also have things I like. For one, I’m impressed with the level of political activation he creates among folks I know – for better or worse, we at least have something to talk about, someone to believe in, and someone to disappoint us.
Massive turnout is a codeword for an Obama landslide – since 2000 the GOP has relied on voter suppression as a path to electoral victory, both in its campaign talking points and efforts to purge felons and likely Democratic demographics from the voter rolls. In the Democratic primary, Clinton relied on lower voter turnout as a path to victory, and we all know how that turned out for her.
Higher turnout also suggests that machine politics has turned a corner with the first truly post-boomer, post Cold War president – Clinton was a boomer, Bush the son of the Reaganite political machine borne from Cold War conservatism. Obama has skirted the cultural wars of the 60s and 70s, and dodged the cryptoracist attacks on Patriotism that drove the last few election cycles, and he’s setting up the new terms for debate that will shape how people respond to mainstream electoral politics.
Because he’s been so effective in preaching transcendence, the task of those further to his left is re-purposing his rhetoric to radicalize the huge mass of people currently at his side – and this requires similarly transcending the terms used to respond to both the New World order of the 90s, and the Bush-centric totalitarianism of the last 8 years.