Transcending the “old style of identity politics” in LA

Laurie Ochoa in the LA Weekly:

[W]hen Barack Obama first came onto the scene, some of us were suspicious of his beautiful words, which at first weren’t backed up with the kinds of detailed policy positions that Edwards presented. But as we’ve watched the unprecedented turnouts in Iowa and beyond, especially among the young, who have always been considered unreliable voters, it’s become clear that we have the chance to be part of a new historical era — if our cynicism doesn’t get the better of us.

If I were to vote in the old style of identity politics, I would feel obliged to vote for Hillary Clinton. As a woman who could relate to her teary-eyed New Hampshire moment, a Latina in a city where the Clintons delivered a lot of political goodwill, and a journalist who isn’t supposed to get caught up in emotion-driven movements, I should logically choose Clinton. She’s paid her dues with her party, and her man; it’s her turn to run. But last Saturday, as I listened to Obama deliver his victory speech in South Carolina, I knew that I would be voting for the senator from Illinois. And it wasn’t just the prettiness of his words that persuaded me….

Obama isn’t just asking Americans to vote for him; he is asking that Americans help him lead…..I understand that Barack Obama is a mere politician with flaws and potentially troubling conflicts of interest. He’s not going to lead us to some imagined promised land of unity and unicorns. But of all the people running for the White House, he can put out a call for sacrifice and service and, unlike Jimmy Carter in his tragic cardigan sweater, get people to listen and to act. This is what Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy picked up on when they endorsed Obama. And it is the real hope behind his candidacy.


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