Thursday, October 09, 2008

Political Stategy 101

Peace and blessings,

Nov. 4th, 2004. I can remember it like it was yesterday. A couple of weeks prior, I had watched two of the preseidential debates between John Kerry and George Bush. With regards to the issues, it seemed to me that John Kerry won both debates hands down. His ideas seems to make more logical sense, and his rhetoric was more coherent. Although he wasn't dynamic or charismatic, I didn't think that come Nov. 4th, that would matter. I was wrong. The way John Kerry got "smashed" by Bush told me that I knew little to nothing about American politics. Granted I've never taken a political science course, and I typically do not pay much attention to political news, I naively thought that when it's all said and done, what's most important is the issues. While I feel like Kerry was on point regarding the issues, Bush spoke with a confidence and conviction that in my opinion connected more with his supporters, making them feel more comfortable with keeping him in office another four years. What I also remember about Nov. 4th 2004 was the morning after, when my boss (who was very disappointed in the voting outcome), asked me if from my opinion, what accounts for Christians' support of Bush (She knew I was a Christian). I first told her that Christians are a diverse group, and therefore we are not homogeneous when it comes a variety of issues, political views included. I also told her that as a Christian, I (and most of my Christian friends) personally disagree with Bush and do not think he should be leading the country.

Unlike the 2000 and 2004 elections, I find myself not only more attuned to the candidates' positions, but I'm actually excited about this political season. It seems like the differences between the two directions our country can go in during the next four years could not be more clearer: either we're going to try to handle things at home and abroad differently, or we are going to continue to "ride things out" as they are. In addition, I am also paying more attention to the amount of strategy involved on both sides. The example I want to talk about here is each candidates' VP pick.

McCain and Palin: When I first heard about who McCain chose for his VP, I was thinking about how "smart" the choice was in a political sense. Although she doesn't have much experience in vital areas, she has something else in her favor. She seems relatively young, she's a woman, and she's snappy/hip. In other words, she's everything that Republican candidates are usually stereotyped not to be.

Obama and Biden: When first heard about Obama's choice for a running mate, I didn't think much of it. I mean I knew it had to be a well-thought out choice because Obama strikes me as someone who is very methodical. However, in terms of political strategy, I thought that McCain's choice represented a more "out-of the box" choice than Obama's. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that Obama's choice was just as politically strategic as McCain's. While on the surface it may seem kind of "suspect" that Obama would choose Biden, someone who in the past has said that he does not thing Obama is ready to lead, a closer reveals otherwise. Aside from Biden's experience (the fact that he has more than McCain was surely a factor in his choice), I think that Biden's initial uncertain of Obama's readiness for leadership is the reason why he was chosen as a running mate. Why? Because having someone who didn't think you had enough experience is consistent with Obama's overall message: that people can out aside differences and come together on principles.

So there it is. Two politically strategic choices for two (seemingly) different reasons. McCain wants to give off the notion that he and the republican can embrace significant change when necessary. Obama wants to give off the notion that at the core, people have more commonalities than differences. I personally think that it's the latter reason that is going to be more important come Nov. 4th.

What do you think? Take care and speekonit...

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