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On The Narrative and Importance of Symbolism

Damon's picture

So, it is the day after, and I've heard unequivocal pronouncement after pronouncement, largely from white individuals, about what Obama's victory means to me as an African American, many of which have been on this board. The narrative ranges on one end from "well, at least blacks can find pride in breaking a barrier" all the way to "this is a seismic shift in American race relations." There is a rather uncomfortable level of self-congratulation, and intellectual laziness that seems to accompany this narrative; it's meta to the core. Well, let me offer another or more perspective, and raise some questions about the narrative and importance of symbolism in politics.

First and foremost, there are all kinds of symbolism; positive and negative symbolism, empty and full symbalism, inherent and transferable symbolism, legitimate and illegimate symbolism, accurate and inaccurate symbolism, and the symbolism associated with being the first and the symbolism associated with being the best. When you're thinking about telling others what someone else means to them, ask yourself which of these kinds of symbolism that person represents.

Secondly, what is the level of importance of even positive, inherent, and legitimate symbolism (which I don't think Obama represents, BTW) in respect to someone running for high, public office, specifically? Furthermore, is it fair or legitimate to bestow upon someone symbolism that the person hadn't even been given in the past to them by their own community?

You see, I question with great seriousness the legitimacy of the claims of what Obama is supposed to represent to the black community, I question with great seriousness others declaring him the successor to the civil and human rights hero and warrior that was Martin Luther King, Junior. You see, Obama's history points to him being a fair and decent man, but an MLK he is not nor will ever be. In my opinon, he was someone that was brilliantly able to co-opt and borrow someone else's legacy.

All that I ask is that when people think about speaking for others and making grand pronouncements that they be a bit more careful, thoughtful, and honest and seriously think through the accuracy and level of importance of their symbolism.

In closing, I do hope that it's enough for Obama to represent an historic first without others having to project onto him contrived, inaccurate, and exaggerated social narratives. Perhaps, one day, Obama will accurately represent almost everything every one of his fans wishes him to be. Until then, why not simply celebrate him for what he is, instead of what you wish him to be?

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Submitted by hipparchia on

and possibly i'm full of tripe too...

first off, i'm still mulling over your earlier point about race, xenophobia, history, and slavery. it's an important set of distinctions, and i've never figured out if obama doesn't get it, or if that's one of the many points he's elided in his efforts to not be scary to white people. if i ever figure out something intelligent to say on the subject, i will.

never underestimate the power of symbolism. it frequently works its magic on us even as we're unaware of that, even as we're sure we're not susceptible to it.

relationships on any scale are seldom smooth curves. the seismic shifts i'm hoping for will happen in the future [or not].

all little kids grow up with some mental image of president [and doctor, and lawyer, and ______] and the littlest kids now grow up with some image other than old white dude. if obama serves two terms, and hillary gets elected after that and serves two terms... wow. they're two good and decent people, even if they are moderate republicans, but just... wow.

and the next time some old white dude is elected president, the stone racists among us are going to realize [granted, not all of them will] that living in a country where the president is the wrong color and has a funny name didn't kill them after all, just like drinking from the same water fountain as the coloreds didn't kill them either.

i decided to cast my vote for obama not because of his [possible] symbolism, but because the people on both sides of the color divide who are most important to me have chosen him as their present-day champion. it's not my place to tell them yabbut, dennis kucinich would have been much better for you, cuz he would have given you full access to great health care and brought your sons and daughters and moms and dads home from the war.

in spite of my bad feelings about the green party, was going to vote for cynthia mckinney she's black! she's female! she's for single payer! she's against the war! [not to mention that we seem to have the same opinion of authority].

but this is florida, patient zero for stolen elections, and not only did the republicans appear to be pulling all the dirty election-stealing tricks in the book, the democrats appeared to be sorta clueless about all that. on election eve, it still looked like florida could go either way, at which point it looked like the strongest statement i could make with my vote [weak though that statement is] was to keep florida out of mccain's reach.

so my statement changed from look, you stoopid democrats, we need to go left! to i'm standing in solidarity with the people who matter to me [even if i think they're wrong].

sappy, i know, but i've already started back in writing sternly worded letters to various democratic party ptb, which is yet another mostly quixotic gesture, but it's about the only other thing i'm any good at.

and yes, a great number of white people are truly going to think that this is the end of racism. it's going to take a lot of work to disabuse of that notion and continue to fix what's wrong on the racial justice fronts.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

"i decided to cast my vote for obama not because of his [possible] symbolism"

Then, I fear that my point(s) was/were missed or missed; either that, or these words weren't meant for you. What I'm cautioning against is the purposeful misrepresentation and contrivance of symbols and narratives that I've seen created to make one feel better about something be it someone or something else or themselves. I'd like to make clear that this really isn't so much about Obama as it is the misrepresnetation of who he is/who he can be.

In other words, truthiness is bad even when it's motives are to meant to uplift.

And, as to what he ultimately means to my community, the verdict is still out. He actually has to do something, because his past record on our behalf is unexceptional, to put it nicely. While he was around courting Joe the Plumber and James the Professor, there was no talk of Jamal the Janitor, no talk of an urban agenda. There seemed to be a discussion with every community but ours. As far as I'm concerned, he has to earn his symbol status.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez's picture
Submitted by nezua limón xol... on

he symbolizes something not just to blacks, perhaps. but to other people of color, as well. we all have our takes. i appreciate what you are saying. just as i appreciate what my friends of color (many black) are saying in their joy.

let fools think this is the end of racism. doesnt matter. its not, and what is, will be. and those who are ignorant of it will learn. or not. we dont have to center it on whites. who cares if they have the wrong idea. lets focus on what truth we see in it, as you are doing, even by calling Truthiness.

i dont speak for blacks that would be wrong and silly of me. but i do have my own feelings on it as a "mixed race" person. and it does mean something.

and next week i am hosting a week of african american writers guest posting at my blog so that the nuances of views can speak for themselves.

.delusions of un mundo mejor.

ElizabethF's picture
Submitted by ElizabethF on

for if it were a woman who was elected President of the United States of America, I would feel the same way.

I would find personal satisfaction and much pride if I were represented, finally after years of abuse and marginalization, by a person of my gender. I am sure my children, particularly my daughter would would find joy knowing that she too, could some day be President of the United States.

I congratulate Obama supporters however, I won't take a back seat to the fact that I as a woman, was stepped over and on for him to accomplish this historic moment.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Spot on!

The fact that some fools will think that electing a single person of color heals all wounds doesn't negate the potent symbolism of this moment.

Our Manichean culture urges us to see the world as a set of polar extremes and to ignore nuance.

I remain deeply skeptical of Obama as an advocate for progressive issues, though I do hold out hope that this era of crisis can motivate him away from right-center corporatist "caution" and imperialism; I had little such hope for McCain.

It is with great regret that I had to vote based on hope for change, rather than a rational expectation for it.

Damon, of course, I don't begrudge your not being moved by the moment. In this get-with-the-program / get-over-it campaign too many people have told us how to think and how to feel. It's oppressive, and it doesn't smell like progressivism to me.

Still, many are moved, including this Obama skeptic. I'm moved, but not blinded.

We start the Obama presidency on a note of symbolic change, for those of us who care to see it that way.

Whether you do or you don't, the ball is in his court to be more than a symbol, because we need much more to repair the damage done by the Bushies and their enablers in both parties.

Obama's got the gig. Let's see what he does with it, praise him when he gets it right, and lean on him when he doesn't. Perhaps we can all agree on that.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

I watched BBC America's coverage from other parts of the globe and it is obvious that although it won't undo the past, the symbolism is very important.

Although we haven't had a woman leader yet - as have so many other "First World" countries and actively slagged the best chance we ever had for that - we are the first out of the developed world to have a black (or even any ethnic minority if I'm not mistaken) leader.

And that is very telling.


Around these parts we call cucumber slices circle bites

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

Speaking of ethnic minority leaders.

Horse of another color, I know. But I bet we could come up with others.

We can't afford not to have single-payer!

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Reminds me of the progress we made in the Oscars.

One year, African-American Halle Berry was Best Actress, and a mere two years later it was a native African, Charlize Theron. That award wasn't just for her, but for every tall, thin, beautiful white woman who never believed she could be recognized in Hollywood.

goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

First of all, there are other movers and shakers behind the scenes pulling every string imaginable for Barack Obama. The government really "is run by a small, evil group to which no one we know belongs". They put Obama in the position of being a man without character posing as a symbol of racial equality.
But the most amazing thing happened: the nation voted for him. People were ready for that symbol to become real. They could have been the racists that the Obama camp said they were. But they weren't. Maybe it was hatred of all things Republican that contributed. Maybe it was the unfair, misogynistic treatment that Palin got that did it. But the results are absolute. For African Americans, the barrier has been crossed and there will be no going back. They have done it.
Now it is time for women and gay people. We are faced with the next civil rights struggle. And African Americans should remember that it was a white woman who worked her ass off for them. They need to honor her and tell the media to knock off the misogyny.

Come together at The Confluence

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

kind. How are the fools who think that electing a single person of color heals all wounds different than the fools who thought that Bush's false patriotism actually stood for love of one's country?

What will it matter if we call Obama out on what he does wrong when there's no chance of being heard over the roar of Amens! to Obama's worldwide absolution communion for all our sins against equality?

People want simple, happy solutions to complex problems now more than ever. How is pretending, in the world's biggest frat party, that we've solved racial inequality and oppression not going to make it harder to achieve in fact?

The symbolism of Obama comes with some mighty heavy baggage. It inextricably linked with the symbolism of misogyny and homophobia -- no less potent and now even more insurmountable. Obama's symbolism sold more indulgences (for himself, too) in the last 2 days than the Catholic Church ever did.

Whoever brought the 'What if Bush Did It' question into the conversation was brilliant. I think we should expand that to include a couple more players on the other side. Had McCain been elected, would anyone be arguing that the symbolism alone of electing a female VP be cause for a worldwide party? Would people be rushing to argue that the symbolism alone of a woman in power was cause for mass exultation and celebration, regardless of her policies? We'll never know, but I just don't see it.

Submitted by lambert on

... and it would be interesting to hear from somebody who was.

What I think is that all symbols are both true and false at the same time, and also (in the main -- Christian cross vs. Nazi swastika) good and evil at the same time. That's why they are inexhaustible and potent. That's also why they are so important in the process of doublethink.

I think that indeed Obama, as a symbol, is important and cause for celebration -- and especially important to children who need to be shown possibilities in symbolic terms. (Just as what Obama did to Hillary, as a symbol, is cause for mourning, at the very least -- especially important to children who need to be shown possibilities in symbolic terms.)

But I'm very focused on concrete things right now, as are a lot of Americans. I can't cash a symbol -- well, not the symbol of Obama, anyhow -- to pay my fuel bill. And I can't get care at the health center with an Obama sticker.

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

tying Obama so falsely and tightly to MLK and real civil rights leaders and fights--which are all ongoing.

Obama has never had any part of those fights and in fact has personally helped restrict rights and respect for others.

That's the problem. It's presenting Obama as the end and as the success of all the fights--and very clearly was designed by Axelrod to appeal to whites--who by a very large majority thought racism and inequality was all over, and in the past.

"... Only 19% (of Blacks) report that racism is not frequently found in any of the four domains. In contrast, 45% of Hispanics (and 63% of whites) say blacks do not frequently encounter racism in any of the areas tested. By the same token, only 11% of Hispanics and 3% of whites believe that blacks often experience racism in all four areas.
..." --

It's dangerous;y false, and a slap in the face, to present Obama as the ultimate success or legacy of civil rights fights and previous leaders. And it totally accords with what non-blacks alone think of racism and its existence and persistence today.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

here and everywhere.

I've posted tons of them here--about his previous experience and how his community organizing work didn't help people, and how Axelrod's m.o. in associating his candidates with "validators" and associations to reassure whites has been followed.

As well, it's crystal-clear too, that the sexism and homophobia and accusations of racism came directly from him and his campaign--and that he took actions that hurt women, LGBT folks, and others--including other African-Americans.

If you weren't aware of any of it, i'm sorry--they all exist and were done--and not on a symbolic level either.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Humor me.
Oh, and I'll post a link with a quote describing his record as the opposite of what you said.

Here's the quote:

Obama was known in the Illinois Capitol as a consistently liberal senator who reflected the views of voters in his Chicago district. He helped reform the state death penalty system and create tax breaks for the poor while developing a reputation as someone who would work with critics to build consensus.

He had a 100 percent rating from the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council for his support of abortion rights, family planning services and health insurance coverage for female contraceptives.

and here's the January 2007 CBS News source

Those three issues right there --abortion rights, family planning services and health insurance coverage for female contraceptives? Those raise him a notch in my eyes.

That says to me that he is willing to consider practical (as in, cause-and-effect) solutions. There's a note in there that he worked for tax breaks for the poor, and that he worked on reforming the state's death penalty.

Hmm. Eight years in a state lege. Hell of a lot more experience than W had.

So he seeks consensus, eh?

Well, damn, after the last eight years, maybe we ought to give that a try, reckon?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

On the AUMF, Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, FISA, and the Big Give. Democrats really don't get enough credit for their generous reaching across the aisle. Post-partisanship is a beautiful thing!

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

on the AUMF (I, personally, in 2001 /02, thought the Congress ought to go on and declare a war, so we could get the damn thing over and done with. I should've known better ...) and the country got corncobbed on the Patriot Act. {That one I can almost understand. But I'm one of the people who isn't 100% convinced that that thing being all ready to go doesn't give a modicum of credence to the notion that Bu$hco DID NOT do all they could to stop 9-11-01 (and took hella advantage as soon as it happened).} The Military Commissions act was icing on that cake (can you imagine if some of those Gitmo and Abu Ghraib prisoners actually got to TESTIFY in open court, ON THE RECORD?) for Bu$hco. And then without FISA to keep us afraid to say anything and the Big Give to keep us from being able to afford, say, HR676, Cheney & Co. would've had to ... gasp ... relinquish control.

Can't have that, it'll lead to a Democrat being elected (and the world will end in all five flavors).

Sure, many progressive Dems were less than thrilled that Obama was the nominee. We wanted somebody different -- Kucinich, Dodd, Edwards, Clinton, Richardson (he's my neighbor), some people probably even wanted Gravel -- but we got Obama, and we got Biden.

So, first, I hereby give thanks we're not stuck in an America that elected McPalin.

'Cause that would, indubitably, indicate to me that not only did my countrymen royally screw up in '04, they MEANT it, and to me that would mean that, yes, the USA sucks. On purpose. Constantly. I don't think I'd like living in a nation where I knew the vast majority of people meant to do the suckiest possible thing, EVERY TIME. In fact, based on the last 7 3/4 years, I know I wouldn't like it. Been there, done that, wore the damn tee shirt out. It doth suck most puissantly.

Thing we gotta do now is the best we can where we are with what we've got (pretty much like always). Short of the second coming of FDR and the resurrected Kennedy brothers as his veep, with maybe LBJ as his House Speaker and Sam Nunn as Senate President Pro Tempore, NO national ticket's going to be able to quickly fix the problems it took the GOP 8 years to install, much of it behind closed doors, never mind the de facto control they've held over Congress since '94.

You want consensus? I got your damn consensus, right here in Texas. I've got people bragging on TV in my hometown that they're flying their flags upside down to signal the nation's need for help (since the Obama win, naturally).

I talked to one of these nimrods the other morning in the dentist's office. These people aren't just prejudiced haters -- they're PROUD, "Christian" white straight "business-oriented" haters in living color with surround sound, on a big damn screen.

UT kicked a backup lineman off the team for breaking team rules. Much speculation is that the infraction was his Wednesday morning Facebook posting (the page has since been deleted and the player has written and delivered an apology for posting that) of a "hunting buddy's text message" that was, predictably, not just offensive but stupid. That a football player should chose to promote such racist garbage floored me; that Mack Brown would dismiss him from the team (the kid's a white scholarship athlete, so finding a lawyer to treat this as actionable won't likely be hard. It is still, sigh, Texas we're talking about here, and playing football is The Holy Grail) struck me as not merely appropriate -- he's got the right to say anything he wants, but the team and the University have the right to disown any of his statements they want, and dissociate themselves from him thereupon -- but a little understated.

Of course, this is Texas, and that idiot who came up with the "Vick 'Em" T-shirts didn't get expelled from my alma mater, either.

Damn it.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

I live in oh-so-blue Manhattan, and I tend to lose sight of what's going on in the rest of the country. (That whole map thang.) You provide a much needed perspective, in the way that (dare I mention?) the late Molly Ivins did.

I appreciate it.
We can't afford not to have single-payer!

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

allowed him to get all the credit on all the bills there while doing none of the actual work (something he tried to do in the Senate as well, which i've posted on before)

"... Jones appointed Obama sponsor of virtually every high-profile piece of legislation, angering many rank-and-file state legislators who had more seniority than Obama and had spent years championing the bills.

"I took all the beatings and insults and endured all the racist comments over the years from nasty Republican committee chairmen," State Senator Rickey Hendon, the original sponsor of landmark racial profiling and videotaped confession legislation yanked away by Jones and given to Obama, complained to me at the time. "Barack didn't have to endure any of it, yet, in the end, he got all the credit.

"I don't consider it bill jacking," Hendon told me. "But no one wants to carry the ball 99 yards all the way to the one-yard line, and then give it to the halfback who gets all the credit and the stats in the record book."

During his seventh and final year in the state Senate, Obama's stats soared. He sponsored a whopping 26 bills passed into law — including many he now cites in his presidential campaign when attacked as inexperienced.

It was a stunning achievement that started him on the path of national politics — and he couldn't have done it without Jones. ..." --

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

"... After weeks of arduous negotiations, on April 6, 2006, a bipartisan group of senators burst out of the "President's Room," just off the Senate chamber, with a deal on new immigration policy.

As the half-dozen senators -- including John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) -- headed to announce their plan, they met Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who made a request common when Capitol Hill news conferences are in the offing: "Hey, guys, can I come along?" And when Obama went before the microphones, he was generous with his list of senators to congratulate -- a list that included himself.

"I want to cite Lindsey Graham, Sam Brownback, Mel Martinez, Ken Salazar, myself, Dick Durbin, Joe Lieberman . . . who've actually had to wake up early to try to hammer this stuff out," he said.

To Senate staff members, who had been arriving for 7 a.m. negotiating sessions for weeks, it was a galling moment. Those morning sessions had attracted just three to four senators a side, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) recalled, each deeply involved in the issue. Obama was not one of them. But in a presidential contest involving three sitting senators, embellishment of legislative records may be an inevitability, Specter said with a shrug....

Immigration is a case in point for Obama, but not the only one. In 2007, after the first comprehensive immigration bill had died, the senators were back at it, and again, Obama was notably absent, staffers and senators said. At one meeting, three key negotiators recalled, he entered late and raised a number of questions about the bill's employment verification system. Kennedy and Specter both rebuked him, saying that the issue had already been resolved and that he was coming late to the discussion. Kennedy dressed him down, according to witnesses, and Obama left shortly thereafter.

"Senator Obama came in late, brought up issues that had been hashed and rehashed," Specter recalled. "He didn't stay long."

Just this week, as the financial markets were roiling in the wake of the Bear Stearns collapse, Obama made another claim that was greeted with disbelief in some corners of Capitol Hill. ... "

Submitted by lambert on

Anyhow, the days of Emil Jones are long gone. We need to look at what's happening now -- which I am sure will provide ample grounds for critique, as Nancy and Harry are already showing.

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

I thought I was in ALM's thread, where she was very concerned with OT. My bad.

More... caffeine...

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

at some point I've got to get myself an "ignore" button.

Amberglow, quit whining. Pick an issue -- any issue that suits you, and DO something.

If what you really want to do with your life is whinge about how your idea of perfect is so much better than what has really happened, that's your problem, not mine.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

is not whining--by any means.

stop insulting me, and others--and it's not for you to decide what's important for me or not.

what you call "whining" and "idea of perfect" is simply the reality of our lives--you do yourself and the rest of us a grave disservice when you repeatedly demean, denounce and dismiss me and others.

those links were in direct response to your request. that's not whining.

again--stop it.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I don't think it's a fair argument to demand that some blogger or commenter shut up and become an activist.

The opinions are defensible and well-written or they're not. That pseudo trump card could be applied to virtually any and all mass-debating on the internets.

Submitted by cg.eye on

flags upside-down, does nothing to eliminate the evidence that Obama did slide in with great advertising, and a lack of real leadership where he actually risked disapproval. You asked for proof and you got it -- to ask for activism after receiving that proof is a form of dismissal, and of changing the subject.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

"... The Rev. Joel Hunter, an evangelical pastor in Florida, said many religious conservatives felt more urgency about stopping same-sex marriage than about abortion, another hotly contested issue long locked in a stalemate.

“There is enough of the population that is alarmed at the general breakdown of the family, that has been so inundated with images of homosexual relationships in all of the media,” said Mr. Hunter, who gave the benediction at the Democratic National Convention this year, yet supported the same-sex marriage ban in his state. “It’s almost like it’s obligatory these days to have a homosexual couple in every TV show or every movie.” ..." --

(relevant in multiple ways)

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

or anyway, doesn't mean what it seems to mean on its face. It has nothing to do with families being good places to grow up in and to nurture each other. It means men and women not sticking to their "natural" roles.

That's part of what I was talking about in my post, and why I think gay issues are just about impossible to separate from women's issues in practice.
We can't afford not to have single-payer!

Submitted by jawbone on

been sayng through its MCMers and by picking man and woman in the street quotes that since Obama won the presidency now every little black boy could wake up on Wednesday and believe that he too could be president. Over and over, parents were quoted saying their baby sons, little boys, teenage boys could now believe they could be president.

Not one has been quoted saying their daughters could feel that way.

Just an oversight....but highly symbolic.

And I'd been hearing that the previous night and all day yesterday, but it didn't hit me until late afternoon that girls were simply not in the picture. Gee....

Submitted by lambert on

... is worth a post, jawbone. Just to set the record straight...

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

It's something else I've noticed, and it's the handpicking of who gets a voice on what Obama means to the black community and the country's past.

Tavis Smiley, a prominent black political commentator and author, and brilliant even when I disagree with him, was ostracized by a lot of black media for daring to to hold Obama's feet to the fire. What he dared to do was ask that we hold Obama accountable.

This is my problem. It's the narrowing of the narrative to force a happy ending. It's forcing out legitimate critique because it doesn't meet the criteria for a happily ever after. When Jesse Jackson remarked on more than one occasion about us making Obama accountable, he was relegated to joke status, and there he was Tuesday night crying in the streets because that's all he or I will ever get from Obama; forced symbolism and words.

You know, when you don't legitimately earn your symbolic status, it can be just as easily taken away, and that's not just dangerous for him, but for us, too.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

I wonder if in California the rights-restricters were more easily incensed by marriage equality than the abortion proposition because the anti-marriage was a big, easy to understand issue -- rights at all -- but the abortion proposition was just fiddling around the edges.

I'm not saying this well but maybe they cared more about defeating gay rights as a whole than about parental notices, which is just one restriction of many. Or at least, it was easier to whip people up about the former easier than the latter.

For instance, it's probably easier to organize a huge anti-war protest against going to war at all, versus say, against sending over an additional 5000 troops.

Anyway, it is an odd result, that the anti-gays and anti-choice people didn't vote together and I know there's a very important and profound lesson in there, I just can't quite put my finger on it. I mean, aside from a little night's point about the inextricability of gay issues and women's issues.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Interesting: breakdowns by age, income, party id, gender, race, and education, but nothing by who you voted for as president.

update: oops, it does have breakdowns by presidential vote, on page 5.

haelig's picture
Submitted by haelig on

I do hope that it’s enough for Obama to represent an historic first without others having to project onto him contrived, inaccurate, and exaggerated social narratives. Perhaps, one day, Obama will accurately represent almost everything every one of his fans wishes him to be. Until then, why not simply celebrate him for what he is, instead of what you wish him to be?

WORD, WORD, WORD. This is exactly how I feel: It's one thing to acknowledge all of the pioneers who paved the road for Obama, and the historic first he has attained; and it's entirely another thing to drape him in those leaders' monumental legacies as their undisputed heir. He hasn't laid his life on the line for human rights like MLK or Malcolm X, he didn't serve 25 years in Congress and become "Master of the Senate" like LBJ, and he isn't a universal symbol of peace like Ghandi. He is Barack Obama, with his own oratorical gifts, political talents, and intelligence.

I also hope he will build his own memorable legacy, but until then, I am supporting his presidency with a clear, skeptical eye on the man himself.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Illinois legislature is only part time. So I'm thinking GWB did have more time in.

Not that it matters, it's what you do with your time and whether you learn from your experience.

PPFA ratings are only based on actual votes. They don't (unfortunately) capture 'presents' and no-shows. Or pesky chatter about supporting the right to choose after approval from the pastor-husband-doctor-family committee. It takes a village, you know.

Speaking of Villages, anyone know how many of the record-number 12 anti-abortion Dem candidates the DNC was pushing this year actually got into office? Talk about symbolism...

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

finally remembered enough of it to find it--very relevant--and very real.

"Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one's conscience tells one that it is right." --

Submitted by lambert on

"Bloom where you're planted."

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

since the event was a New York Review of Books event, and they publish Didion, and they also snorted the Kool-Aid dry (or at least some of their more prominent writers did). Sad, since if we can't get critique from the NYRB....

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by jawbone on

Eeva @ 6:03 PM
Last week, just after the election, I went to a talk given by Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein. They are friends of and advisers to Obama, and yet both were quite restrained about the whole thing.

Sunstein described Obama as a visionary minimalist, an idea I was really taken with, and one Didion would like as well.

I have no idea whether Didion would like that description--but it makes me even more uncomfortable about ever seeing universal healthcare from this president.

C'mon, Hillary! Step up and push UHC, please.