It’s election time. For the first time in my life, I’m excited about a primary. Why? My vote actually counts for once!! It’s kinda a weird feeling and it makes me realize how much different it would be to vote if it were all about choosing delegates rather than a winner-takes-all scenario. I ended up taking the primary pretty seriously, researching the candidates and thinking long and hard about what my choice should be.
At first, I defaulted to identity politics. I mean, I’ve been dreaming of a woman president all my life. But then a friend of mine asked me if I’d vote for Condi just to have a women president and I was like omg no. So I decided that this was irresponsible and that I should sit and think about the issues more deeply.
Problem is that the issues aren’t the issue – by and large, Barack and Hillary are on the exact same plan. Then they came to Los Angeles and one glaring difference became visible: Hillary is all about old media and Barack is all about new media. Hillary is totally in bed with big corporations (and Hollywood) and Barack embraced a lot of the innovative ideas put forward by independent startups and tech culture. This started to make me very nervous about Hillary. For me, net neutrality is a *HUGE* issue and I would hate to see the next president play nice with old media just to get some bribes.
This all started making me think about media and its relationship to the presidency. For better or worse, media plays a HUGE role in making a president and helping the president communicate to (or outright manipulate) the masses. I realized that Barack had an asset that few really thought through: Oprah Winfrey. I don’t think that Oprah can necessarily get him elected, but if he were president, what I do think that she can do is help the masses understand the decisions at play. She’s her own woman and I don’t think that the White House could ever buy her off, but if she’s invested, I strongly believe that she can help people understand sticky complex issues in an elegant way. This is going to be extremely important as we face the crisis in Iraq. Iraq is not a matter of pulling out/staying in. Both really really suck as solutions. Problem is that the mainstream discourse is binary and that’s going to make things a mess for the next president. The economy and its implications are another piece of chaos. The environment is another issue. We need a president who can communicate to the masses and get support to make difficult changes in this country. I don’t believe someone in Washington can do this alone and, damn, Oprah is about the best asset in the world for helping out.
Then I started thinking about the general election. Hillary is soooo divisive. I actually feel badly for her on this front, but I can’t ignore that reality. People love her or hate her. She has enemies everywhere. She’s going to have a hard time getting things done because of those enemies. She doesn’t motivate young people to be engaged in politics like Barack does. And, frankly, I don’t think that she can beat McCain. And that worries me. Cuz even if McCain isn’t that bad, the idea of another term of Republican machinery SCARES THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME.
Finally, when I was in Davos, I expected everyone to be pro-Hillary and anti-Barack because of the whole “experience” thing. I was shocked to find that this was not the case at all. Most foreign diplomats and companies thought that Barack would be much better at negotiating with foreign powers than Hillary. They all knew that the candidates would have huge advisory teams that would help them understand what was going on. Even though Hillary knew more people already, they felt as though Barack would be more effective. (And most were extremely worried about how Bill would overshadow anything with Hillary… another sad reality.)
So, I made my decision and I’m going to vote with a level of enthusiasm unprecedented in my lifetime. I donated to his campaign and I’m going to vote for Barack Obama.
Before leaving for Davos, I threw a proposition party so that my friends could come together and collectively decide how to vote for California Propositions. Here’s my slate for anyone who is interested (or any lazy person who wants someone to tell them how to vote). More notes over at Mindtangle.
CA Prop 91: NO (Not even the proponents are for it any longer.)
CA Prop 92: YES (This formula should’ve been redone long ago; community college is extremely important and, arguably, more important than HS ed.)
CA Prop 93: NO (I don’t like fishy changes in term limits that suit the proponents and have unclear long-term effects.)
CA Prop 94-97: NO (Gaming contracts the benefit the top tribes at the cost of the smaller ones are extremely problematic and without clear audits, it’s not clear that it will be the economic benefit that people believe.)
LA Prop S: YES (Yes, the 10% tax was illegal and so yes, this is an increase not a decrease in taxes. But the damage done by propositions in the past makes funding some of these necessary services really challenging and I strongly believe that we should modernize the phone tax and, more importantly, that companies using digital systems should pay per user not per company. This prop isn’t ideal but it’s necessary.)