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People and Campaign:
Democrats, Republicans,

Natalia J. Garland

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Kentucky and Oregon had their state primaries last week. While the news media tended to focus on the votes for McCain, Obama, and Clinton, there were a significant number of people who remained uncommitted or who voted for other politicians or former candidates. Why are some people unhappy with the front runners or presumptive nominees? And what will they do when the Democrats and Republicans officially elect the presumptive nominees?

Let's take a look at exactly how the votes were distributed. The following charts show 99 percent of the votes for Kentucky, and 100 percent of the votes for Oregon.



Candidates Votes % of Votes Delegates Won
Clinton 459,145 65% 37
Obama 209,771 30% 14
Uncommitted 18,029 3%  



Candidates Votes % of Votes Delegates Won
McCain 142,855 72% 0
Huckabee 16,239 8% 0
Ron Paul 13,439 7% 0
Uncommitted 10,630 5%  
Romney 9,151 5% 0
Giuliani 3,126 2% 0
Keyes 2,138 1%  



Candidates Votes % of Votes Delegates Won
Obama 360,728 59% 31
Clinton 252,270 41% 21



Candidates Votes % of Votes Delegates Won
McCain 280,030 85% 0
Ron Paul 49,905 15% 0


Among Democrats, there is a tension between Obama voters and Clinton voters. Although there have been various explanations for this, including racial prejudice and feminist preference, it must be noted that both Obama and Clinton are hardcore liberals with almost identical political platforms. Aside from race and gender, and equally important, there seems to be a cultural divide between the Obama and Clinton voters.

It is reported that Obama voters are more highly educated. In other words, they are products of America's public school and university systems. These systems often tend to employ hardcore liberal teachers, to emphasize extreme views of multiculturalism, and to blame America for all the social and political ills of a global society. In contrast, Clinton has developed a populist following. That is to say, the everyday working people seem to feel that Clinton understands their struggles and values. This may be a political contrivance, or it may reflect a genuine cultural divide between pseudo-intellectuals and average citizens.

Whereas the Democrats are divided, the Republicans are fragmented. Independents, whether registered as such or just voting independently, are a staunch group of people who do not feel obliged to express party loyalty for its own sake. These voters are splintered into the elements of conservatism which they apparently perceive McCain to lack: particularly the religious values of Huckabee, the civil liberties of Ron Paul, the financial expertise of Romney, and the strong anti-terror leadership of Giuliani. The votes cast for Keyes would seem to indicate that there is not racial prejudice among these Republican and Independent voters--a black conservative candidate can attract a following even if he has no resources.

In addition to the Kentucky and Oregon primary results, let's take a look at how social workers would have voted in February of this year. The following information was taken from the N.A.S.W. (National Association of Social Workers) website. This was an online survey which the N.A.S.W. ran for a while. The following results are accurate as of the 02/08/08 online posting. If a candidate's name does not appear, it is because he did not receive any votes or, for reasons unknown, the N.A.S.W. did not include that candidate in the survey.



Candidates % of Votes
Obama 40 %
Clinton 31%
Edwards 6%
McCain 5%
Huckabee 4%
Romney 4%
Giuliani 1%
Ron Paul 1%


With the exception of the votes cast for Edwards, Ron Paul, and McCain, social workers voted similarly to the Oregon Democrats and to the Kentucky Republicans and Independents. The N.A.S.W. categories do not add up to 100 percent, but the survey is nevertheless noteworthy because it shows there are possibly more conservative social workers than might be expected. The N.A.S.W. survey would have had to rely on participants who visit the N.A.S.W. website (the survey was open to non-members). Since the N.A.S.W. is a liberal organization, and since much of its website material is available to N.A.S.W. members only, the survey might be skewed toward dues-paying, probably very liberal, N.A.S.W. members who regularly visit the website.

However the Kentucky, Oregon, and N.A.S.W. results are interpreted, it would seem that the era of Reagan conservatism has ended and the Bush political dynasty has ended. At this point, it may be accurate to predict that the Clinton political dynasty has also ended (unless Senator Clinton becomes vice president or unless the Democratic Party reinstates the Michigan and Florida votes). Likewise, it would seem that the era of political endorsements has ended--in terms of having any real impact or validity. Because so many leaders have a tainted past, or have accidentally spoken a controversial word or two, and because each competitor seeks to expose or exploit the other campaign's weaknesses, endorsements are now risky.

The current problem with the discontinuation of government philosophies and dynasties is that there is nothing to replace the past. There is no clear definition, program, or vision of what is to fill the discarded spaces of Reagan, the Clintons, and the Bushes. Let's go back about 20 years and listen again to Reagan's hope for America.



I've been reflecting what the past eight years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one--a small story about a big ship, and a refugee and a sailor. It was back in the early eighties, at the height of the boat people. And the sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck and stood up and called out to him. He yelled, "Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man."

A small moment with a big meaning, a moment the sailor, who wrote it in a letter, couldn't get out of his mind. And when I saw it, neither could I. Because that's what it was to be an American in the 1980's. We stood, again, for freedom. I know we always have, but in the past few years the world again, and in a way, we ourselves--rediscovered it.
[End of quotes.]


The outcome of the Iraq War will largely determine whether America stands for freedom. Bush did not achieve victory in Iraq, and this opened the Republican Party to criticisms of incompetence and of using a politics of fear in order to stubbornly continue military strategical errors. The Democrat demand for withdrawal from Iraq, coupled with massive denial of the full intent of terrorist jihad toward America and the world, is the core element of the Democratic pursuit of the presidency. The Republicans have no rallying vision for America, and the Democrat's hope-and-change movement has already proven to be void of any new ideas.

How can Americans rediscover unity at home and a meaningful position in global society? As noted, McCain, Obama, and Clinton do not adequately represent the voters. In the 2008 presidential election, it could be the candidates' choice of vice president that will enable independent voters to feel more confident of the candidate. Normally, the role of vice president is not an influential one. Given the shortcomings of the candidates, however, a promising vice president could balance the president's lack of attributes or qualifications, and provide a competitive advantage. Regarding the imperfection of presidential leadership, John Updike offered the following insight.



But Polk and Lincoln, too, had their doubters and mockers and haters by the millions; perhaps it lies among the President's many responsibilities to be unconvincing; to set before us, at an apex of visibility, an illustration of how far short of perfection must fall even the most conscientious application to duty and the most cunning solicitation of selfish interests, throwing us back upon the essential American axiom that no divinely appointed leader will save us, we must do it on our own. Of all the forty-odd, handsome Warren Harding was in a sense the noblest, for only he, upon being notified that he had done a bad job, had the grace to die of a broken heart.
[End of quote.]


If neither presidential candidate develops a true and workable vision for the future of America, then our post-Reagan/Clinton/Bush government will proceed as a 'work in progress.' This learn-as-you-go mode will either eventually create an appropriate philosophy of government for our times, or result in chaos. If the government deteriorates, then there could be a reform movement in 2012 to bring back the values of the Reagan, Clinton, or Bush eras (although it seems unlikely that anyone would identify with George W. Bush unless he is able to produce stability or victory in Iraq and vindicate the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy to the world).

Although Reagan and Clinton devotees might disagree, a total return to any past era might not be wise. The challenge is to solve the problems of our current era, and that will require both innovation and adjustments peculiar to this moment in history. Anyway, it is certain that McCain, Obama, and Clinton will not or cannot apply all the traditions and policies of the past to today's problems. There will be administrative and emotional stress in Washington, D.C.--at best, there will be a formation of a fully functioning government or a transition period toward a national identity for 2012; at worst, there will be deep regret among Democrat and Republican voters. It may well be that the independent voters and thinkers are uniquely capable of saving America from megalomaniac or incompetent leadership, and will steer a new course through extremely difficult national and global problems. (Written 05/26/08: bibliography available.)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2008 Natalia J. Garland