I had a very strange dream last night. At around 10:45pm I went to bed (hey, pregnancy makes you tired), bemoaning the fact that the New Hampshire primary results would be available in Germany at 1am. I am a bit of a political junkie, but not enough to stay up until 2am. When I went to bed there were some mighty confident commentators predicting an Obama win. Me, I was not so sure and decided to hit the sack. Over the past few weeks I have been having more dreams about my coming baby. Last night was no different. This time I dreamt that Hillary Clinton was holding my baby and we were talking about the difficulties of labor. I woke up around 6:30am and thought, "What the . . . Hmm, I wonder what that means . . . Could it be?" I went down to the kitchen and turned on the radio. Sure enough, Hillary had pulled out a win in New Hampshire. This was not surprising to me as it was to some of those confident commentators on the TV.
For several months I have been anticipating the party primaries. Although I was too lazy to get in my absentee ballot, I will participate in November. For several months I have also been trying to explain the crazy U.S. election system to many Germans who are baffled by this primary . . . stuff.
Baffled German: What are these primaries about?
Claire: This is when people vote for who they want to be the party candidate for president in November. Each state is different. In some states you have to be in a party to vote for their candidate and in other states, you can just walk up and say, "I want to choose the Democratic candidate," even if you are a Republican.
Baffled German: So, what your saying is that a Republican could choose the Democratic candidate?
Claire: That is what I am saying.
Baffled German: Well, that's dumb. Why don't the parties just do it themselves?
Claire: In the 60's they thought it would be more "democratic" to open up the primaries.
Baffled German: They sort of shot themselves in the foot with that one.
Claire: Yeah, you could say that.
Baffled German: But why do they have to pick the candidates by February if the election is in November?
Claire: That is a very good question.
I love these discussions because Germans have an excellent way of pointing out the oddness of the U.S. electoral system. One of their favorite questions though is, "Who is going to win?" I do not have the answer to this. However, even when the press was tooting Hillary's horn in November and December, I knew that the Democratic race was going to be closer than expected. All you had to do was look at the donation numbers. Obama was able to raise as much money as Hillary, but in smaller amounts from more people. This was, for me, a clear indication that Obama had a strong grassroots support that should not be underestimated. And yet the press continued to shout about his demise and about Hillary's rising star. Why?
Contrary to what many Republicans say, the press is motivated by money and not by a liberal bias. Hillary sells newspapers. And boy if she is the candidate, think of all the things that they could say about her. Also, those in the more conservative press really want Hillary to be the candidate. Why?
That is simple. Hillary will be easier to beat in November than Obama. Yesterday I downloaded a video clip on MSN.com and listened to a Republican strategist talk about how all Republicans had to do was increase Hillary's negatives and then the national election would only be decided by a few percentage points. My view was reinforced this morning when I saw Bill Bennett on CNN say that, "We should never count Hillary out of the race." That's right, Bill. I am sure the Republicans will not. So, why did the press shout about Hillary's impending doom after the Iowa caucus last week? That is simple, too. It sold newspapers. I think those who follow politics closely, knew that NH would be closer than what the press predicted.
So, after two elections the score stands at: Hillary 1, Obama 1. My father-in-law (aka FIL) and I had a lively discussion about the candidates last weekend. As is the case with many Germans, he is enamoured with Hillary. Me . . . not so much.
"Well," he argued "it is because she is a woman. Germany can elect a woman (i.e. Angela Merkel) and the Brits can do it (i.e. Margret Thatcher), but the U.S. is not ready for a woman."
I grunted. "FIL, I think the U.S. can elect a woman, but I am not sure they are ready for this woman."
He was perplexed by this. "Why?"
"Well, in the U.S. you either love Hillary or you hate her. There is not much middle ground and I just don't know if she could win the election in November. Also, don't underestimate what it would it would mean and how significant it would be for the U.S. to elect a black man."
I am definitely an Obama supporter and have been since he was elected to Congress. I find him inspiring, which is something I cannot say about a lot of politicians. I will definitely keep my eye on the races to see who the candidate is and you will probably here more about it. If you don't like my political stuff, well . . . skip it and come back the next day. I am sure there will be more about something else then.
You are probably wondering why I am not writing about the Republican side. Well, I am probably not going to vote Republican in November and thus my interest is in deciding the Democratic candidate. Also, the Republican candidates are a bit . . . boring. Unless we are talking about Giuliani, who is just a tad crazy. But you know, crazy is fun.
This article at Newsweek is an example of what I mean: How Two Campaigns Rose from the Dead. Did anyone actually think that Hillary was dead, or was it just a ploy to sell more papers? Also is Obama's fight really "uphill" is he the "underdog" again? Let's get real people. It is an even playing field that will not be clear until after Super Tuesday. However, nothing beats a good headline. Now, McCain rising from the dead . . . that is something I might get behind.
Oh, wouldn't it be cool if Little Dude was born on Super Tuesday? Do you think I could name him Politico?