Posted on January 29, 2008, Printed on January 29, 2008
My wife and I keep having the same argument. It's not
exactly a sophisticated debate, but I have a feeling other
people are covering similar ground.
Me: Maybe he can win after all. He's likable, and smart
and good-looking. And he didn't blow his cool when she
attacked him in South Carolina.
Her: You don't have any idea what people in the rest of
the country are like. Nobody in this liberal suburb does.
Americans won't elect a black man -- not yet -- no matter
what they tell pollsters.
Me: I know there's a certain percentage of people who
wouldn't vote for a black candidate if you tied them up and
held boiling oil over their heads -- but I don't think the
percentage is high enough to guarantee he'd lose.
Her: I think it is. I think the other side is praying
he's the candidate. They may even be working behind the
scenes to get him nominated, by attacking her and leaving
him alone -- because they assume they could beat him with
one hand tied behind their backs.
Me: What about all those college kids who are so excited,
so optimistic? Maybe this time their audacious hopes will be
Her: If he's the candidate, they're in for an eye-opening
experience. (Unspoken: Just like we had in 1972, and 2000
and 2004. Not to mention 1980, and 1984 and 1988. Poor
Me: I don't buy your argument. Charisma wins votes -- and
that could overcome the racism factor.
Her: So you're going to vote for him?
Me: I don't know. He's not really as progressive as I'd
like. And I worry that he's too nice to survive the
last-minute dirty tricks.
Her: What about her?
Me: Sure, I'd love to see a woman elected -- and she's so
smart -- and she's learned so much about how to play the
game. I think she could actually survive the dirty tricks.
Her: There's a "but" coming.
Me: But the percentage of people who hate her may be
bigger than the percentage of people who wouldn't vote for a
Her: I disagree.
Me: Well, we could go back and forth forever on that one.
Her: She could get a lot done. She knows how.
Me: I think so too. But she's really kind of
conservative. And I worry about her outmachoing the hawks,
in Iran and other unforeseen places.
Her: What about Edwards? Remember when we kept asking our
friends who they were going to vote for, and they all said,
"Well, I really like Edwards, but ..."
Me: I don't know why he's not doing better.
Her: Er ... money might have something to do with it.
Me: And he was talking kind of angry out there for a
while. It didn't sound good.
Her: And he lost last time, sort of. There's a taint.
Me: Maybe his biggest problem is that Democrats won't
allow themselves to make him their candidate, when a black
man and a woman are running. It would seem racist and
misogynistic. Or, at least, insufficiently progressive. It
would look bad. Even though he wouldn't have any of the
negatives -- no accusations of dynasty or inexperience. And
he has a Southern accent. That alone could win the White
Her: So who are you going to vote for?
Me: I don't know. Who are you going to vote for?
Her: I don't know.
Me: I don't even know how to decide. Do you go for the
one you agree with the most, or the one with the best chance
to win in November?
Her: Are you kidding? The one who can win!
Me: And that would be ...
Her: I don't know.
Me: Me neither. But the truth is, at this point, any one
of the three would be a dream come true -- like a cool
bubbling spring after eight years in the desert.
Her: That's a mirage you're seeing. If one of them gets
elected, you'll be annoyed at half the things he or she
Me: I would be so happy to be annoyed!
Her: Ah, well, maybe the decision will be clearer by the
time our primary comes.
Me: We said that a month ago.
Her: True. Well, it's not as if our votes will decide
what happens in the end.
Me: Right. Except -- it sort of is.
Michael Laser, a novelist, is the author of Dark &
Light: A Love Story and the forthcoming young adult novel
© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/75249/