I made up my mind
No, I'm sure.
I came to this decision the night before last, after watching Obama's South Carolina victory speech on YouTube. (Thankfully it was before I read anything about Edwards dropping out—psychologically, I'm glad I made a choice among three and not between two, even though in practical terms the distinction is meaningless.)
It basically came down to a simple question: How can you not vote for someone who ignites this kind of idealistic passion? I couldn't even entertain a cynical thought for the whole 17 minutes. (Believe me, that's saying a lot.)
This morning on the subway I read George Packer's New Yorker piece on the Hillary/Obama choice (titled, duh, "The Choice"). Packer hits the dilemma squarely on the head, and as a bonus made me feel even more sure in my decision: He outlines some of the things I actually like about Hillary but have had trouble articulating (she's a practical policy wonk with great skill in navigating legislative byways and actually getting things done), but also provides insight into what makes Obama, ultimately, the better candidate for progressive social change.
On rare occasions, however, a leader can become the object of an intensely personal, almost spiritual desire for cleansing, community, renewal—for what Hillary, in a 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley, called "more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living." Somewhere between the merely great communicators and the secular saints are the exceptional politicians who, as Hillary put it then, "practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible." Robert B. Reich, the Secretary of Labor in [Bill] Clinton's first term, who now teaches at Berkeley, told me that he believes political inspiration to be "the legitimizing of social movements and social change, the empowering of all sorts of people and groups to act as remarkable change agents."
It's more than clear which candidate fits this bill. As Packer notes:
Obama offers himself as a catalyst by which disenchanted Americans can overcome two decades of vicious partisanship, energize our democracy, and restore faith in government. Clinton presents politics as the art of the possible, with change coming incrementally through good governance.
But what we really need now is politics as the art of the impossible—change beyond what we've been able to hope for these last seven years.
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