Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mississippi Goddamn

On March 4th, Senator Hillary Clinton won, presumably, 3 out of the 4 contests that were up for grabs. I say presumably because Texas is largely undecided. After the popular vote accounts for its sixty-five percent, the caucus system kicks in and allocates the remaining 35 percent. Complicated, yes, but profoundly rooted in good ol’ fashion Texas populism. There are over 250 counties in Texas, more than any other state in the nation. The varied nature of caucus venues mixed with the complex calculation of Texas delegates may present either a statistical tie or a win for Obama considering his impressive ground level organization.

It is worthy to note his level of campaign organizing. It’s essentially a hybrid of sorts that includes on the ground activism coupled with cutting edge technological innovations. This is a deviation from the Internet-roots movement Dean unfolded in ’04. What’s different is that the impetus is placed on the individual to act. The campaign provides important technical assistance to precinct activists/citizens and the ownership is handed to them. At the core of this is quintessential community organizing with the attempt to inspire everyday folk to be a part of something, only on a much broader effort with technological innovation and a lot more money. Obama also didn’t frame his strategy on winning dense, highly populated locales; he focused on setting up an organized grassroots effort in every state tapping into existing ad hoc support. He did lose most of the big states, but with minimal damage—he averaged 45 percent of the vote and got a decent proportion of delegates. He believed in small hamlets and large centers.

Nina Simone would certainly be proud of Barack Obama because the theory of his campaign is about hope and the praxis is about the people. Mississippi and Wyoming are indeed ‘small’ states, but he won them, which continues his streak of winning the states and holding the lion’s share of pledged delegates. He inevitably drew a sharp contrast with the way things were and where we should be going. Clinton’s strategy becomes more and more transparent and stuck in the old Establishment ethos of below belt attacks and top-down management. I respect Hillary Clinton and cherish the idea and potential reality of a woman winning the presidency, but she is running a fucking awful campaign.

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